Stress Management: Flight, Faint, Face or Fight?


Stress is the response caused by certain stimuli, whether real or imagined, when we perceive danger. Nature has given sympathetic nervous system to every living being which gets triggered responding to stress. Some fishes change color swiftly to camouflage. Rat tries to escape when threatened, but will fight when cornered. While being attacked by dog, cat’s heartbeat accelerates, pupil dilates and piloerection happens standing hair on end for conservation of heat. What about humans who are blessed with a lot of privileges and claim to possess the most and the best brain?
Everyone knows that we have two possible responses of either “fight” or “flight”. In other words either “face” or “flee”. And given a chance what will we take? I just heard you whispering the correct answer, “run.” Yes, you are absolutely right and someone must be a complete fool not to pick the obvious, easier, peaceful and more comforting choice of quitting. But does running solve anything ever? Not really. So what other choices we have?

Looking closely and deeply there are broadly there are four categories of response to stress or rather anything. Below are them with some of the typical characteristics separating them from other possible options:

1) Flight: Quit. Run away. Evade. Duck. Avoid. Give up. Leave. Quitting is of two types: permanent forever or temporary quitting for time being.
2) Faint: Do nothing. No courage to face. Don’t even run. Just stays and bears. Take no control or charge. Pretend as if the issue or problem does not exist or wishfully think that things will happen differently by itself without taking any action or changing anything. This can also be called “freeze” or “fright” response. This is a state of indecision where individual can be confused or lost unable to take any clear decision.
3) Face: Confront. Talk. But most of the time no action or very little inadequate action, not solving the issue completely and permanently. One can face with “fun” or with “fright.” But at least one shows some braveness. Start to make some attempts to correct and shows willingness to take some responsibility of consequences.
4) Fight: Confront. Think. Plan. Act. And committed continuous improvements until the desired outcomes are manifested. This is the only way to fix anything. Sometimes attack is the best defence. One can never receive anything without taking action. No output is ever possible without inputs. Right inputs are needed for the output we want. We might win or lose the fight but at least it is worthy to try if being done for the right causes and reasons. Relentless efforts with thinking, planning in right direction without giving up is the key and secret of any successful life, relationship, career or business.


Quitting is the easiest option. Quitting does not require much efforts and can be done anytime depending on what the resistance bearing capacity is of the particular individual. And quitters graduate to become “professional quitters” when they become good in rationalizing their quittings with believable one-sided stories which are in actuality not the reasons but mere “excuses.” Quitters are also smart people where they choose to exercise another choice to apply and waste their intelligence in giving themselves a respectful face-saving fancy name of “Leavers.”
These leavers leave and move from one place to another, one person to another, one job to another and one business to another, trying to find the short-cut, an easy way to be successful, happy, respected and contented. The hopes of getting lucky in life is a mirage and the earlier someone accepts the realities however hard and the fundamental truths however bitter, the better it is for that individual.

These so called leavers, do they ever reach anywhere? They like to be too busy so that they ensure that they never have any time to think where they are? Where they are going? What do they want? The consistent rush of doing a task in the least possible time builds unnecessary stress. Even doing the task which can be a very pleasant relaxing activity becomes a pressure ordeal to run and finish hurriedly to move on the next one. The life can become an endless vicious loop of tiredness, frustration, stress and depression. One of the ways to break the trap is to give a thoughtful meaningful contemplative pause. Again not running away on a vacation or on the next project but analysing, isolating, focusing and fixing the real issues.

Meditation is a practice of “facing.” Meditation is to face the “SELF”, to be really with the true self and not to quit or evade. To be able to sit quietly in the midst of multitude of thoughts, bad and ugly, hitting continuously is not easy. Getting affected, giving up, getting off and discontinue is again another easier choice, if we want to pick that.
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