Animal Instincts

As the daughter of a former psychologist, the why behind people has always been something that has fascinated me – and as a female, I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what, exactly, you meant when you said that.  So the other night when I was talking to a friend about why people do some of the things they do, and he was saying that he just doesn’t really understand most people, it brought up something I’ve noticed about people over the years.

Just like animals (because we ARE animals),  people usually react to things with either fight or flight.  We might label it something different, something fancy, like “self-preservation mode,” – but really what it comes down to is that, when confronted with an uncomfortable situation, we either run from it or face it head on.

Animal InstinctsPhoto Source

We either try to avoid getting hurt by having a ton of friends, none of whom we deeply attach ourselves to – so if one does slight us, we can drop them (flight) and move on without too much worry because there is someone else waiting in the wings to fill their place – or we can try to avoid getting hurt by being very selective about who we let in, and holding onto that tight-knit group of people fiercely (fight).

Perhaps what’s most confusing about people then, is not why they do what they do (since it’s all coming from the same place, self-preservation), but how they go about it.

Personally, I’m a fighter.  So when I encounter people who run in the opposite direction when things get difficult – who shut down instead of communicating through problems, I am positively baffled.  Don’t you WANT to face it and work through it?  If you don’t, then you could lose someone you put a lot of trust into, and isn’t that the worst thing that could possibly happen???

Well I guess not to everyone – which, I have to be honest, I still I don’t really understand (no offense fleers!  I’m sure us fighters drive you nuts with our constant need to TALK about things).  But I’m finally coming to the realization that it’s probably not something I ever WILL understand.  And that’s okay, because people who flee instead of fight are just different than I am.

And this is where I think things actually become a little easier – since you’ll never really understand it, you can give up TRYING to understand it – and start accepting the fact that some people are going to react to things in ways that just don’t make sense to you.  But you can also stop taking it so personally, because it’s not about you – or them either, really – it’s about the fact that instinctually, we’re still just animals programmed to save ourselves, no matter what the cost.

Are you a fighter or a fleer?  Do you have someone in your life who reacts the opposite way?  How do you find compromise during struggles?


8 thoughts on “Animal Instincts

    • I have to agree. It really comes across (at least to us fighters) like, “This is just too hard, so I’m not going to deal with it.”

      The only problem with that is, dealing with things you’d rather not is part of maturing into a successful adult!

      Thanks for the comment!

  1. Most people don’t think logically, which is why they are difficult to understand. There is another rule at play here that might explain things. People are driven by two things, pleasure and the avoidence of pain. Often we must face pain in the short term to recieve long term pleasure but that is difficult for some people who are more accustomed to short term pleasure and long term pain. Just consider all the people with credit card debt.

    • That is a very good point, as well!!

      Actually, now that you’ve got me thinking about it, it seems as if the mentalities go hand in hand sometimes. If you flee, it may be because short term pleasure is the only way you know how to create a feeling of safety in your life – whereas if you fight, it’s possible your desire for long-term security overrides the temporary need for comfort.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment!

  2. Hi Andrea,
    In the past, when I was younger, I tended to flee. Now I don’t flee I fight, but I am thoughtful about it, taking time to think things through before I fight, and I am picking my battles more carefully. I don’t want conflict, but if I am facing it, I do so.

    • Monique,

      I think that’s a very good point, a lot of us fighters tend to fight EVERYTHING. Perhaps I should rephrase my above comment to say that neither fighting OR fleeing is a sign of maturity in and of themselves – but the ability to decide between what conflicts are worth fighting for and which ones are worth walking away from. Creating a giant fight can ultimately make it just as difficult to solve a conflict as walking away and refusing to address it!

      Balance truly is the key, and part of growing up is learning to find that balance, no matter what side of the line you were on to begin with :) Thank you so much for your input!!

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