Horses have 2 basic responses to stress; fight, or flight. Us people do the same. Often we get ourselves out of a situation that feels uncomfortable, which is great natural response to danger, if we were actually in danger. Unfortunately, our brains respond with flight mode to situations that make us uncomfortable, and to grow we need to get ourselves through these uncomfortable situations. Therefore, we are sometimes battling our own instincts to be able to grow.
Now fight mode, another tricky one. Another instinctive response to danger. And again, a great response if we were actually being attacked by a predator and we needed to fight for our lives. However, in our modern world this is usually not the case anymore. However, we do tend to respond to something we perceive as danger with anger. And this is not a good thing.
2 years into the pandemic, 2 years into a lot of stress, there is a lot of anger. People calling others dumb or stupid. Personal attacks, threatening strangers online. I don’t just see the anger; I see a lot of people stuck in fight mode. The stress has put them in fight mode and they are stuck in it. Besides the point that it is never nice to treat others without respect, it is unhealthy. It is unhealthy to continuously be in fight mode.
It is so important to recognize your stress, recognize what your brain is doing to you, to notice that you are in fight mode. Because only when we recognize this, we can do something with it. It is so important to learn awareness. Awareness of yourself, your responses and your emotions. This is something we can learn. We can train ourselves to recognize our emotions. To be aware what state our brain has put us in. And when we have done that, we can stop ourselves, bring us back out of survival mode and into thinking or coping mode.
If the pandemic has taught and shown me one thing it is that it is so important to learn about ourselves, about how our brain functions and how we slowly gain control over this. Practicing mindfulness, paying attention to your mental health is so important. That’s what is going to keep us going. That is what is going to make sure we keep treating others with respect. That’s what is going to keep us from making wrong decisions. That is what gives you back some sense of control, something we all need to feel some more at this point.
The one thing we keep saying over and over to each other is this: “We cannot control the horse, we can only control our response to the horse” (quote by Chris Irwin). And this is so powerful because if you truly live by this, you can feel some sense of control in the midst of a very chaotic world. No, we can’t control what’s happening around us, but I can control myself, I can control my stress and I can control my anger. I can choose to take a few hours a day where I actively don’t worry. Where I actively relax. Where I choose to feel good not matter what is happening around us.
This does not mean I don’t stand up for myself, or my rights. This does not mean I don’t disagree with others. This does not mean I just let the world go by and accept everything that happens. But I can disagree with others without being angry at them. I can stand up for myself or fight for my rights without the stress. I can worry about the world but have a good night sleep. I can keep respecting others and their different opinions. I can see what’s happening around me, but still feel that sense of control. Because I can control me, my responses and my stress.