"Freeze, Fight, Flee...or Flow"
While it might not be part of your nature to attack another individual, the reverse is not always the case. Other individuals, for one reason or another, may attempt to attack us in some manner, be it physically, mentally or emotionally. Why do they do it? Who knows? It might be out of jealousy or envy, perhaps out of dislike or even hatred. They might do something deliberate and planned, or as a response to their own conditioning. Whatever the reason may be, in order to deal effectively with such attacks we need to develop our ability to counter them.
Most of the attacks we will face in our daily lives will be mental or emotional attacks, and come in the form of condescending questions or disparaging statements aimed at:
Who we are -- "You're such a geek. Why do you even bother?
What we are doing with our life or what we've done with our life -- "When are you going to quit writing music and get a real job?"
Who we are currently involved with (spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, etc.) -- "I cannot believe you're actually going out with that guy/girl!"
What we are currently invovled in, or our personal or work accomplishments, successes, etc. -- "What's so great about what you do anyway?" -- "You think you're something special."
Let's say, for example, you're at work one day when a co-worker comes up to you and without warning fires a verbal attack at you, such as making a derogatory comment about your work performance in front of others. How do you react? The majority of people will react in one of three ways:
The first is the "freeze" response -- the person being attacked stands frozen in stunned silence, like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car. Having been blindsided by the attacker's action, their response is a sort of mental, "What the hell just happened?"
The second is the "fight" response -- the person reacts by immediately getting angry and retaliates by lashing out at the attacker before even thinking about the situation and questioning the attacker's motives for doing what they are doing.
The third response is "flight" -- the recipient of the attacker immediately flees the scene in an attempt to escape.
The problem with all of these responses is that they encourage the attacker to do it again because they recognize that their attacked succeeded.
However, there is a fourth way to respond to an attack which doesn't do this --
The "flow" response -- the recipient of the attack remains calm, "flows" with the situation and responds in such a way that they effectively neutralize the negative action of the other person. By maintaining their cool, they can counter the attack by either refusing to engage the would-be attacker, parrying or deflecting the energy of the attack, or even shutting the attack down by intercepting the attacker in the midst of their action (I will discuss these countering methods in detail in a future blog).
While we might not have any control over who chooses to attack us and when they choose to do it, the one thingwe can control is our attitude and our reaction to such an attack. Developing the ability to "flow" with attacks aime against us offers a more effective and lasting way of dealing them.