Don't like slowing down? Signs of the flight trauma response and how to get out
If you have perfectionist tendencies and you’re the kind of high achieving person who usually chooses checking one more thing off your to-do list over rest, this might surprise you…
That’s a sign of the “flight” trauma response (aka you’re stuck in survival mode)!
A trauma response happens any time you encounter more stress than you can process in the moment. Since life has a lot of stressors and the norm is to keep them all bottled up, everyone can relate to at least one of the 4 (flight, fight, fawn, and freeze).
Basically, your brain has decided that the flight response is the best way to keep you safe. Since it is super devoted to you and its ONE mission in life is to keep you safe and loved (so sweet, isn't it?), it has chosen “flight” as its default setting. And it has gotten a little bit too protective (it’s interpreting things that aren’t actually threatening - like rest - as threatening and responding as if it’s there’s a lion about to attack: “just stay busy, don’t stop, and you’ll be safe!”).
But here’s the thing about trauma responses that are making your life more uncomfortable than it has to be…
When you’re stuck in survival mode, the thing you need the most when things are feeling hard is the opposite of what your brain automatically does.
With flight mode, it’s like your “off” switch is broken and the trickiest part is that society has rewarded you for it (and if we’re honest..you’re proud of your incredible work ethic and drive). You’re always busy and you live in an “as soon as I achieve this or finish this, then things will be better and I can relax” mindset. But you never rest or feel truly satisfied because the combo of your busy brain and unrealistic high standards means there’s alway something more to do or something you could be doing better.
When you’re stressed, you do even more things because checking things off your to-do list is comforting and feels way better than rest. Simple things like sending an email often end up taking a ridiculous amount of time, because you want it to be perfectly worded (which makes you frustrated with yourself because it shouldn’t take that long). You’re always worried about making a mistake and despite all of your success, you feel like an imposter.
What you really need when you’re in “flight” mode is going to feel most unnatural:
✨To stop being so hard on yourself. To have compassion for all that your body has done to try to keep up with you. To start training your brain to see all of your successes and beauty instead of only seeing your “fails” and imperfections.
✨To prioritize rest (even though it feels uncomfortable) and the basic necessities your body needs to function and to start noticing how that gives you so much more energy and focus so you actually save time and effort when doing the things you need to do.
✨To give yourself permission to start letting go of some of the rules and unrealistic standards that have been preventing you from enjoying the life you have right now.
✨ To start learning how to trust yourself and your body instead of trying to control everything.
✨ To get to know the real you instead of the version you think you’re supposed to be.
Here’s how this pattern may be impacting your health....
You’re living in a state of stress and feeling over-extended, and it’s taking a toll. You’re cruising down the highway at 90 mph ignoring the check engine light and that you’re about to run out of gas. You’ve probably noticed GI issues, headaches, brain fog, exhaustion, or other random things that don’t feel quite right in your body, but you’ve been “too busy” to deal with them. The longer you ignore them, the more likely it is that you’re going to get sidelined at a really inconvenient time.
You’ve probably had times in your life when you were super healthy and consistent (although still not satisfied with your body), and you probably like super intense workouts versus something boring like yoga where you don’t even break a sweat. You’re good at the discipline and willpower thing for a while, but when things get busy and you cave and eat something “bad” you judge yourself hard and tend to go totally overboard since you’ve already “ruined” the day. When life is extra crazy, you tend to turn to whatever is convenient (or skip meals) and put off making healthy changes until you have more time since you want to be able to do everything perfectly.
Staying in a trauma response makes your life harder than it has to be and negatively impacts all aspects of your life, but since it’s automatic it’s not going to change unless you decide to change it.
Both staying in a trauma response and overcoming it feels hard. You can’t avoid that.
However, the RESULT of doing the hard thing feels very different between the two:
- Staying in a trauma response will further drain your energy and continue to feel disappointing and uncomfortable
- Working to overcome a trauma response will ultimately give you MORE energy and help you to get closer to what you truly want (and need) every step of the way🙌🏻
How to start breaking the cycle...
Overcoming a trauma response and the automatic patterns that have been draining your energy and keeping you stuck doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process.
But every process involves just one small step at a time! And each small step that frees you from the patterns that have been draining your energy and making like harder than it has to be will give you more energy and motivation for the next smallest step.💪🏻
The problem with most approaches is that they do the opposite of what you need: they add stress to your life which just keeps you even more stuck in the trauma response you need to escape.
That’s why my approach is designed to decrease your stress not add more to your plate...
My programs are designed to feel like a breath of fresh air.😮💨✨
My LBC (Life Boosting Change) Approach changes the way you experience life. It gets you out of survival mode, off the hamster wheel (of working hard, yet exhausted and not where you want to be), and on a path that adds pleasure, energy, and fulfillment every doable step of the way.
We look at all aspects of your life and get to the root of why things haven’t been working and what has been feeling hard so you can create the change you’ve been wanting - no willpower or discipline required. And you most definitely don’t need to be on your best behavior (that’s actually not helpful).
My goal it to help you to feel better today instead of living in the “things will be better once...” mindset.
Here are ways to get started:
- Use my favorite 1 minute anti-anxiety tool. Your body needs a pop-off valve for stress and this is a really powerful one! This is a perfect way to practice pausing in your day. Adding moments of mindfulness like paying attention to how the water feels when you're washing your hands or noticing how the temperature of the air changes as you breathe in versus out can help you to start being more present, decrease stress, and helps to quiet your inner critic who's probably the one making you think you can't slow down in the first place.
- Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to share what part of this post resonated and to learn more about my programs or schedule a complimentary 30 min “curiosity and connections call” to see if we’re a good fit and to chat about what program sounds most exciting and doable to you.
- Visit my website (www.lifeboost.today) to learn more about my LBC approach and the programs available!
P.s. Here's a glimpse of what the process is like:
How a client was feeling before we started working together:
“I was stuck in the same pattern of staying on track and going way off track with eating and losing weight. I was up and down with my weight, my mood and my stress levels. I could not figure out why I was not happy when I have a great life with so many blessings. I did not feel good about myself in any areas of my life. I did not know who I was.”
While working together:
“The thing that has been most helpful in being coached is the process. I just wanted to know how to lose weight, but I have since learned that it is a process of learning to connect with yourself: body, mind and heart and to really get to know yourself in order to reach the goals you are wanting to reach. When you listening, learn and use the tools that Amelia provides, everything else will follow.
The thing that surprised me the most about this program is if you get curious and really listen, your body will tell you what it needs. It also surprised me how you can learn to put up roadblocks to stop living in the same pattern of habits and/or same pattern of thought. It also surprised me that it helps in all areas of your life including relationships with yourself and others, daily habits of meals, exercise, sleep, learning to listen to yourself and get curious about what things are within yourself, recognizing your daily successes that help you to feel proud of yourself, learning to love yourself and know who you truly are and so much more.” - Sue (client)
If you missed signs of the other trauma response you can read more here: