Your type may just be designed to rip your relationships to shreds.
Driving on ice and emotionally charged conversations have more in common than you might first think. However, it's probably best to start with an example of the lion and the gazelle.
You've probably seen a nature show in which a swift and fierce predator like a lion runs after and pounces on a relatively defenseless gazelle. Although it may run away at first, the most effective thing the gazelle can do is to become very still and quiet. Oftentimes, this will convince the lion it is dead and therefore it is not a good idea to eat it. After waiting to be sure that the lion is really gone, the gazelle will get up, do an elaborate shaking routine, and then go about eating grass again just like nothing ever happened.
In dealing with threat or conflict, the gazelle is a great example of the Freeze Personality Type. If the gazelle had a decent set of claws or teeth, it might be more suited to the Fight Personality Type, pitting its sharps against the lion's. Or, if the gazelle could outrun the lion (and many try), that would be the Flight Personality Type in action. 6 Red Flag Phrases That Should Send You Running
In reaction to peril, most animals have one of these responses: freeze, fight or flight. And we humans are no exception, having similar responses during in our disagreements and clashes. Are you wondering which Conflict Personality Type you are?
If you are the Freeze Type, when you encounter conflict, you're most likely to desperately try to make nice in order to restore harmony—even pretend there is harmony—at any cost. You smile and attempt to smooth over the squabble. Your system thinks the best way to deal with hazard is to hide it, fix it or fade it.
Or maybe you are the Fight Type. You get defensive when any dispute comes at you. You might get mean, start pointing fingers, blaming and lashing out. 3 Reasons Getting Revenge On Your Partner Backfires EVERY Time
For the Flight Type, you run away or wish you could. You often retreat by becoming silent—as in giving the silent treatment—putting emotional or physical distance between you and the threat. Flee-ers give great cold shoulder. Or you may get tongue-tied or flustered not knowing how to handle yourself or the other person. You're a Flight type when you're intentionally icy...even if it's under the guise of "taking space." A Secret For Staying Open Instead Of Shutting Down
The gazelle would lose with Fight, so it might start with Flight, yet often wins with Freezing. None of the three Conflict Personality Types are bad or wrong. However, they all presuppose that conflict warrants a red-alert warning to the system, as would be the case if a tiger with yard-long claws was running you down. Often, conflict, although admittedly uncomfortable, is a huge opportunity for some part of the relationship dynamic to be shaken loose and upgraded. We often miss or overlook the opportunity entirely, so busy are we trying to maintain our safety from the perceived threat by Freezing, Fighting or Fleeing.
If you have ever found yourself driving on ice and starting to skid, you know in your bones what I'm going to say next. There are 2 vital things you must know:
1. Don't put on the breaks, and
2. Turn into the direction of the skid, rather than away from it.
These can both seem entirely counterintuitive. I mean, come on! As you start to skid and lose steering ability, your instincts likely shout, "Oh, no! Make it stop!" (Freeze), or "Break, break!" (Fight) or, "Steer hard the other way! Get the heck outta here!" (Flight) Most people's instincts never instruct them to resist breaking or to turn into oncoming traffic. This happens, too, in emotionally-charged conversations. Why Making A Mess Can Get You Closer To Success
Ever notice that when things starts to get heated, your instinct is to make it stop, put on the breaks or steer out of the conversational skid, by getting either defensive, protective, combative or shutting down? That's your Freeze, Fight or Flight Personality Type saying hello. But here's where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. There are generally two things that dig us deeper into conflict and misunderstanding. The first is not taking the time to fully understand what the other person is experiencing and expressing; and the second is getting defensive right away by Freezing, Fighting or Fleeing. How To Be Less Defensive
When we take the time to see, hear and understand (resist putting on the breaks) and validate the other person's experience (turn into the skid), amazing things can happen. Your course corrects. The conversation doesn't spin out of control or crash into the guardrail. The emotional charge dissipates, hearts become relaxed and open and it can become easier to work out what needs to be worked out.
The next time there's a conflict and you notice yourself Freezing, Fighting or Fleeing, here are some great things to try, in no particular order: How To Ease Mother-In-Law Conflict
1. Pause. Before you clam up, defend, attack or withdraw, simply stay present and pause for a moment. Breathe. You can check to see if there is really a bear or wooly mammoth gaining on you.
2. Channel. When you begin to experience the intense sensations that come with conflict, try channeling them like a lightning rod. Imagine the sensation running through your body like electricity and then into the ground. If that electricity stays in your body, you're likely to fry. The key is giving the emotions and sensations a place to go, and the stable ground is a great place for them. 5 Relationship Skills For Resolving Conflicts
3. Repeat. Repeat back what was said, as you heard it. You can say something like, "If I got that right _____ (repeat back what you heard)," or, "What I heard was _____ (repeat back what you heard). Did I get that right?" So often, what you heard is different than what they said or what they meant.
4. Clarify. You can even ask them for more, as in, "Let me see if I got all of that?" or "Is there any more you want to say about that?" Or even, "What else?" This will likely feel like the last thing you want to do. Much of you will still want to Freeze, Fight or Flee, but instead you'll turn into the skid! Hold any "red flags" that come up for you, and discuss them later. Dating Red Flags: Do You Ignore Them? [VIDEO]
5. Relate. Try stepping into their shoes and validating their experience. You could say something along the lines of, "You make sense because ______," "I can see how you could see it that way," "I can see what you are saying..." or, "I imagine that you could also be feeling ______." You can understand their experience without it being your experience. This is a subtlety that most of us humans miss and it costs us dearly in our relationships.
Of course, none of this applies when you are in serious emotional or physical danger. Get to safety as your first priority. All my suggestions are for perceived threats, not for real ones.
Although unintentional, Freezing, Fighting and Fleeing can have the effect on the other person of leaving them feeling unheard and/or unseen. Putting up your dukes can cause them to put up theirs, their own version of Freeze, Fight, or Flee. Then you're in a skirmish or a war, rather than a conversation or an intimate interaction. Avoiding Your Pain Cuts Off Your Passion
So, what is the key to getting along with human beings? See and hear them...truly! Do the counterintuitive work of understanding them. Step into their shoes and validate their reality. No matter the bluster or shine covering it up, all that any one of us really and truly wants is to be seen, heard, understood and validated.
So next time conflict runs you down, do the opposite of what your animal nature is screaming at you to do. Instead of Freezing, channel it. Instead of Fighting, turn into it. Instead of Fleeing, face it.
LiYana Silver, CHC, RYT, MaNLP, has been called many names: "A relationship magician," "The archangel of intimacy, love, sensuality and evolution," "...witty and wise..." "... a bright light on The Path..." "A gifted teacher, coach and relationship expert with a huge heart and an obvious commitment to making a difference in this world by supporting more loving, healthy and fulfilling relationships." She's also been called a relationship expert, master coach and advocate for switched-on women world-wide. LiYana maintains a private practice, speaks nationally, has appeared on dozens of radio and TV shows, maintains her website and business, http://www.love3point0.com (because 1.0 and 2.0 aren't working so well) and writes for various magazines and blogs, including YourTango.com.
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