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Fight or flight - freeze or appease?

We all have reactionary instincts, which can be quite different in various situations. We won’t always run from certain challenges (flight) or panic when confronted with a problem (freeze). Sometimes we may stand our ground and represent our deep values (fight), but in other cases, we could simply go with the flow in order to keep the peace (appease).

In her article “Everything I Know About Fight or Flight, " Aurora Eliam describes how these hormonal cascades work succinctly. As individuals, the emotions that accompany the confusion and helplessness we feel when we experience fear or trauma will vary.

That said, the response to the particular emotion tends to be similar:

  • If you feel anger or frustration when afraid, your likely reaction will be to fight
  • If you feel terror or alarm when afraid, you’ll probably respond by flight
  • If you feel anxiety or desperation when afraid, you’ll likely freeze
  • If you feel dismayed or foreboding, you’ll try to appease

Whilst these can be reactionary, if we can learn to take a breath before acting (or reacting), we can condition ourselves to respond better in volatile, uncomfortable or challenging situations. There are many ways to start to reflect on our triggers, whether healthy or unhealthy, and these four classic trauma/fear responses are helpful in enabling us to identify our motivations and how they direct us.

And the sooner we realise that all of these will impact our financial situation, the better.

How we behave and show up is crucial to getting and keeping a job. Our reactions impact how we save, spend and invest, and how we communicate about and around money with our family and friends. Every life decision we make impacts our money.

As we identify why we behave the way we do, and how we arrive at our choices, we can start to choose how we might change them. In a blog on, the author offers these four helpful tips:

  • learning about and developing healthy personal boundaries (a major concern for appeasers)
  • developing safer and healthier self-soothing techniques and strategies for self-care (a major concern for flighters)
  • controlling mood and managing emotional responses (a major concern for fighters)
  • improving self-esteem and learning grounding techniques to lower anxiety and dissociation (a major concern for freezers)

If you want to experience more freedom in your finances, it’s helpful to explore how you can experience more freedom in other areas of life where you may feel like you have lost control, and learn to become healthily unattached to experiences and situations that are outside of your control.

(Inspired by: