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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

How to Fight Back the Human Instinct to Flee When You Panic

How to Fight Back the Human Instinct to Flee When You Panic

In 2003, Aron Ralston went hiking alone in southeastern Utah. An experienced outdoorsman, the trail didn’t seem to present any danger for him. Things were going well until he slipped, dislodged an 800-lb. boulder, and was pinned to the canyon wall by it. With limited supplies and no way to call for help, he realized that the only way he’d leave the canyon alive was if he amputated his arm. Using a dull multi-tool and leverage, he managed to free himself after five days.[1]

    Aron could have lost his wits and died in the canyon. He had to be willing to fight for his life.

    We’d all like to stay calm under pressure, but the reality is that some of us panic, while others among us have the drive to fight for what they want.

    “Fight or Flight” Keeps Us Alive

    When faced with challenges, people tend to panic. Our brains do everything they can to keep us alive. When we’re afraid, it sends us the signal to either fight or flee.

    When you are afraid, your amygdala sets off a chain reaction in your brain.[2] Your amygdala is responsible for making you fight or flee, and it can even play a part in self-defeating behaviors and resistance.[3]

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    When your amygdala perceives that you’re in danger, it sends a distress message to your hypothalamus. The hypothalamus overrides the normal way your brain handles incoming information. It activates the sympathetic nervous system, which triggers what you feel when you are afraid.[4]

      We usually respond to a distress signal by fighting or fleeing. When your survival is at stake, you react without thinking. Your brain either tells you to stay on the path and fight through it, or give up.

      The Pitfall of Flight

      When you are in physical danger, your flight response can save your life. It’s not that flight is bad, but sometimes our brains tell us to flee in situations that aren’t life-threatening.

      You may feel the urge to flee when you face something that seems overwhelming. You might tell yourself a negative story about how you won’t succeed if you continue on your current path. With that mindset, failure is almost guaranteed. You don’t believe that you can make it, so you won’t. Flight can keep us from reaching our potential.

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        People who always choose flight give up quickly. At the first sign of a challenge, they jump to another task. This is the person who runs away from difficulties in their personal and professional lives because they don’t think they can deal with them.

          Make Fighting the Only Option

          You may have the impulse to run away, but you can re-frame your thinking. Next time you panic over some challenge at work, choose to fight by telling yourself a positive story. Replace your negative self-talk with hopeful internal dialogue.

          Even if your positive story doesn’t end up being true, it can be enough to keep you going. People who beat the odds often do so by visualizing an excellent outcome. When you know that your intention is to keep going, it makes you more persistent and keeps you motivated. Hope carries people through the toughest times.

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              Fight Like You’re in a Video Game

              If you take a moment to reflect on your situation, you can imagine a positive message that will override the negative story you’re telling yourself. Any time self-doubt creeps into your head, play your positive story.

              Make overriding your fear a game. Games are fun, and they break challenges into more bearable parts. Playing games that are too easy is boring, which makes challenges the perfect thing to turn into a game. Challenging games are more difficult, but they’re more fun and engaging.

              The best games have multiple levels, enemies that increase in difficulty as you become a better player, and achievements along the way. When you get an achievement, it motivates you to strive for the next level.

              As you play, you can look back and see your progress. You either fail and have to try again, or you succeed and get something good for all your effort. This process is addictive to players.

              One of the best ways to turn challenges into games is to break your big goal into smaller steps. Milestones help you check your progress and stay motivated. Achieving a milestone is like entering a new level of the game. Give yourself rewards and punishments so that you have extra motivation to move forward.

              Ralston’s brush with death wasn’t a fun game by any stretch of the imagination, but he did have certain milestones that he reached in order to decide what to do next. At first he tried to survive with the limited supplies he had. He hoped someone would find him.

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              When his supplies ran out, and it became clear that nobody would find him, had to take more serious action. After he discovered that his hand was dying from being trapped under the weight of the boulder, he realized he would lose part of his arm anyway. This knowledge combined with his ultimate goal of survival led him to do what he had to do.

              Even though his work was gruesome, he described grinning when he realized he was going to make it out of the canyon. When he freed himself, he got over the largest hurdle in his ordeal.

              Keep on Playing

              If Aron Ralston decided not to fight, he would have died. For him, there was nowhere to run, but if he fought he stood a chance at making it.

              People who reach their fullest potential don’t give up easily. They don’t run away at the first sign of trouble. They take the hits and keep going.

              However, there are some times when you do have to quit in order to win. Be on the lookout for my next article on when you should quit in order to get ahead.

              Reference

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              Leon Ho

              Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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              Last Updated on January 15, 2021

              Why You’re Not Interested in Anything And Have No Motivation

              Why You’re Not Interested in Anything And Have No Motivation

              Let’s clarify something before we move forward: This article is in no way meant to cure, treat, or diagnose depression. Actually, this article isn’t even about depression. Depression is the result of a combination of unique events and genetic, psychological, and environmental predispositions.[1] When you’re depressed, you lose all hope for the future, always have no energy, consistently feel sad without knowing why, and are not interested in anything. If you feel like you might be suffering from this illness, you need to seek psychiatric help as soon as possible.

              Nevertheless, what we’re talking about here focuses on something similar to yet entirely different from depression: lack of motivation or interest.

              The purpose of this article is to help you figure out some practical solutions for getting back that zest for life and motivate yourself to find and do things that interest you.

              If you’re not interested in anything and have little to no motivation, this article will help you.

              Let’s dive in to the reasons why you feel unmotivated and uninterested.

              1. You’re Stuck in a Rut

              You wake up, work, eat, and go to sleep… Wake up, work, eat, and go to sleep… Wake up, work, eat, and go to sleep.

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              Multiply those activities enough times, throw in some mindless web-surfing and YouTube-bingeing, and congratulations — you’ve got yourself in the middle of a bonafide rut.

              Being stuck in a rut is like getting stranded in the middle of nowhere with nothing but saltine crackers and water. It feels as if you have no choice but to eat the same bland, flavorless food every day. You do it because you have to, not because you want to.

              Lucky for you; you can get yourself out of that rut and reignite your interests by trying a couple of solutions.

              Solutions:

              • Get out of your comfort zone by injecting new and challenging activities into your life.
              • Do more things you’re scared of.

              Check out this article for more ideas on how to get out of a rut: Stuck in a Rut? 5 Ways to Get Out and Move Forward.

              2. You’re Not Playing to Your Strengths

              One of the reasons why you are probably not interested in anything right now is that your daily activities aren’t tailored around your strengths. In other words, you’re not doing things you’re great at.

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              To find your strengths, try my GPS Formula by asking yourself:[2]

              1. What am I GREAT at?
              2. What am I PASSIONATE about?
              3. How can I combine the two mentioned above in SERVICE to others?

              The convergence of your answers is the key to finding your strengths.

              Solutions:

              • Conduct the GPS Formula exercise described above.
              • Experiment with new ideas and potential hobbies.
              • Consider starting a side-hustle like an online business based around something you’re great at.

              3. Your Subconscious Beliefs Hold You Back

              Sometimes, we hold back and prevent ourselves from embracing exciting changes because we’re afraid of failure. Maybe you’d like to try picking up a new skill or sport, but you make up reasons for why you’re not interested in learning more. You tell yourself you’re not interested… But is that really true?

              Do you lack interest or courage?

              Often, a lack of the latter keeps us from exploring more of the former.

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              Solutions: 

              • Challenge yourself to try more activities to see if they might peak your interest, even though you think you might fail.
              • Think of them as trial runs or tests, if you will, to help you determine whether they’re worth pursuing.

              4. You’re Not Aiming High Enough

              Regardless of what we seek to accomplish in life, it’s how much we desire to achieve our goals that end up becoming crucial to fulfilling them. Unfortunately, too many people try to set limits on their desire and tell themselves and others that they don’t need incredible success.

              However, this kind of thinking is dangerous. When we limit the scope of our desire, we put a cap on what we’re willing to do to reach our goals and succeed in life. When that happens, we limit the scope of our motivation and interest on any given activity and a general sense of fulfillment.

              A lack of exciting and desirable goals easily lowers your motivation and makes you feel like you’re not interested in anything.

              The solution to this problem is what’s known as The 10X Rule,[3] which states that: You must set targets that are 10 times what you think you want and then do 10 times what you think it will take to accomplish those targets.

              While some folks will tell you that setting impossible goals kills motivation and that it’s better to “underpromise and overdeliver,” this line of thinking is foolish. 10X-targets (commonly called stretch goals) will only spur you on harder to do more and try more than you ever have done before.[4] Besides, even if we fall short of achieving our 10X-level aims and ambitions, it is still better to fall short of achieving a massive target than merely achieving a tiny one. If you aim high enough, you’ll demand more from yourself and become better in pursuit of a massive goal.

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              Nonetheless, setting a high target is only the first step. The next step is to take ten times the amount of action you think is necessary to reach that target.

              Solutions:

              • When we have small, uninspiring goals, we tend to feel lethargic and unmotivated to achieve them. On the flip side, when we have vast and ambitious goals, we feel empowered and invigorated to take action towards achieving them.[5] Bottom line? Set massive goals and take massive action.
              • Push yourself to your outermost limits. The more action you take, the more motivated and interested you become to work towards your goals further.

              Time to Spark!

              Try the methods described above, and you’ll be well on your way to reigniting the interest and motivation you need to lead a fulfilling life.

              More on Overcoming Lack of Motivation and Interest

              Featured photo credit: Joshua Rawson-Harris via unsplash.com

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