You have probably heard me talk about FFF (fight/flight/freeze) response. If not here’s a recent blog: the 3 F’s.
If you can’t be bothered reading that, here’s a quick summary. We’re being stalked by a tiger, the FFF response is activated. Let’s say we decide flight has the greatest chance of keeping us alive. In choosing our escape path we’re scanning for other potential dangers – loose rocks that could slow our progress, small (not dangerous) animals that could be startled and run across our path potentially tripping us, a pool of water of unknown depth that could slow us down – the list goes on.
This scanning is great when we’re in real danger.
This scanning is not great when we’re not.
Luckily, for most of us, most of our threats are toothless tigers – the fear of not being good enough, being rejected, not liked, overrun by germs, gaining weight, having a panic attack and passing out in public etc etc etc.
What we scan for is highly dependent on what our ‘tiger’ is.
If your ‘tiger’ is not being liked then you will scan for looks of disapproval, not having your calls returned, friends being too busy for you. You may even do conversation autopsies – going back over everything said and looking for where you went wrong.
If your ‘tiger’ is having public panic attacks you might scan rooms for exits in case you need to get to somewhere private quickly. You might scan your body for signs of panic so you can catch it early. You may even scan the past for times when you either did or nearly did have a panic attack in public.
This is all perfectly normal. But also perfectly unnecessary.
These ‘tigers’ are constructs of our minds – toothless tigers. They can’t really hurt us.
So the next time you’re scanning for these ‘dangers’, ask yourself “Who’s my Tiger?” and see if it really has teeth.