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4 Types of Survival Reactions & How To Get Out Of Them

No one wants to live stuck in a Survival Mode.

However, there is so much marketing done in the self-help industry around getting out of the Survival Mode, that it almost starts to look like the Survival Mode is all wrong.

The problem is, that to get out of the Survival Mode, it's first practical to know, WHAT is Survival Mode, and WHY it's helpful in the first place.

There are 4 psychological survival reactions:

  1. Fight - beat the enemy.

  2. Flight - escape the enemy.

  3. Freeze - disappear from the sight of the enemy (give up the fight altogether).

  4. Fawn - give the enemy what it wants to be safe.

(If you want to go deep into this topic, check Pete Walker's book: Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving)

They are called survival reactions because they are extremely practical for our survival - both psychologically and physically.

It's incredibly practical to be able to get into the Fight mode to set boundaries and protect yourself.

It's incredibly practical to have an option to go into Flight mode and know when to escape from a situation to take care of yourself until you're more empowered to handle it.

It's incredibly practical to know when to give up the fight (Freeze), because it's hopeless.

And also, it's incredibly practical to be able to sometimes let go of your own needs and desires sometimes - Fawn.

Now, the problem is not these survival reactions. The problem is being stuck in the survival reaction when you're experiencing that you don't have a choice other than the survival reaction.

When it feels like you HAVE TO fight with the person/work endless hours/play games and do drugs/please other people and sacrifice your needs and desires.

How does this happen?

You can get stuck in a survival reaction, when the environment you've been in for prolonged periods of time was stressful enough to trigger one (or two) of the survival reactions, WITHOUT having experienced the relief of calming the situation down afterward.

In fact, the entire psychology behind the Nice Guy pattern is a consequence of a Fawn survival reaction. "If I can't express myself the way I am, then I have to sacrifice who I am and find a way to give everyone what they need from me so I'm safe and loved."

In the long-term, this is, of course, unbearable and psychologically unsustainable. Therefore, every now and then, when the emotional tension of prolonged fawning is too high, the Nice Guy pattern will shift into Fight mode and have an anger outburst or a blame fest.

Being stuck in a constant Fight will make the person feel like he has to be in power and control in the relationships all the time - and it's a pain in the ass to be around such a person. Being stuck in Flight will be exhausting because he tries to escape all the tension through work, addictions, adrenaline, and other dopamine substitutes. Being stuck in Freeze will result in apathy and tuning out from the world completely through withdrawal (games and other obsessions).

And being stuck in Fawn reaction = the Nice Guy pattern.

If the person believes, that this is the only way to exist, he's stuck in the Fawn survival reaction.

To get out of Survival requires first understanding, why you're in Survival. If you're there, it's not because you were bored. You're there because you were ACTUALLY in the psychological survival situation in the past, that you haven't snapped out of.

Then, knowing how the Survival Mode presents itself - emotional flashbacks, stuckness, rage, blaming - you can recognize it and work through it with Masculine Communication (stepping into masculine pole) and Emotional Releasing.

And then you can shift into Thriving and Abundance - which is a place where you can see the beauty of yourself and others, see life as a gift and appreciate what you already have, and feel the gratitude of it all.

When you're out of the Survival Mode, this becomes easy. And it's not some "special enlightened" state, but a very natural self-loving & self-empowering state where it's a delight to work on yourself, your goals, and solve problems for yourself and others.

How does this relate to Natural Masculine Confidence?

When you're in the "out of survival" state, you have resources to solve problems, use creativity and enjoy others. When you take on a bigger challenge, you'll get triggered again. And then you'll work through it.

And again and again.

Every time you do that, you're increasing the amount of tension you can handle. You'll get triggered later and later. You'll be able to take more and more responsibility, be a better leader while staying calm - and enjoy it all!

You'll be able to handle and enjoy more tension.

That's Natural Masculine Confidence.


If you're ready to take a deep dive into your own psychology and learn how to recognize these patterns to grow your Natural Masculine Confidence, schedule a free call with me, where I'll help you understand what's holding you back and we'll craft strategy to resolve your situation. If we're a good fit, and you are 100% sure that you want to work with me, I'll invite you into my program.


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