Fear Responses, Fight, Flight, Freeze, How NLP Can Help

I had an interesting experience the other day that gave me such clarity about what happens to the body in times of stress.

I live in San Francisco, and for those of you who know what parking is like and parking tickets and how much the city loves to tow cars you will be able to relate to this.

I went out to run some errands and walked to where I parked my car the day before and it wasn’t there. Confused, I figured it must be on a different block, so when I walked back a block I saw some temporary no parking tow away signs that had been posted.

My heart started racing, I broke out in a cold sweat and began to shake as I imagined having to race over to the city tow lot, pay $500 to get my car back and then have to cancel all of my appointments that day so I could take care of the issue.

With my heart still racing , I called the city tow lot and the Department of Parking and both said that they did not have my car.

Now confused, I went back down the street and did find my car. I’m not sure how I missed it, ( that is a whole other story about deleting information)

So, I got in the car and proceeded to go off on my errands. For the next hour and a half my body was still in a panic. Heart racing and shaking.  I kept trying to remind myself that everything was fine now, but it wouldn’t listen.

It got me thinking about what happens to our systems when real threats of danger or possible danger happen especially when we are younger and how much more severe and impacting it must be on the body and nervous system.

These threats to survival cause our brains to either do fight, flee or freeze. Most likely when we are young” freeze” is what happens and then there are parts of us still frozen in fear back then even when the danger is gone.

These moments are when limiting beliefs about ourselves and the world start to form and then take hold as absolute truths based on experience and have a hard time updating themselves and relaxing.  Most of the things that we find ourselves stuck in now is the brain trying to make sure that we are safe way back when we are young.

One of the most powerful tools that transformational NLP uses is to re-imprint earlier trauma, and let the brain know that it survived “back then”.  It sounds funny, because logically we know that we are alive. But for the reptilian brain that just stores imprints of danger, safety and survival, it doesn’t understand time, and will store the emotionally charged events as always a threat so be afraid of them forever in order to stay safe and alive.

Letting the reptilian brain know that things ended up “ok”, allows for it to loosen its fear around it and then translates it into the present.

5 comments to Fear Responses, Fight, Flight, Freeze, How NLP Can Help

Cinthia Dennis

Master NLP Practitioner
MA Human Development