Have you ever found yourself in a situation that seemed near impossible to overcome?
Perhaps it was a challenging work project or a personal struggle that left you feeling lost.
Whatever the situation, we all face difficulties in our lives.
How we respond makes all the difference in how we come out the other side.
- Do you feel overwhelmed when you discover you've bitten off more than you can chew?
- Do you sweep the problem under the rug for another day?
- Or do you nip things in the bud before the next problem arises?
The way we respond is either fight or flight (flee).
The fight response is when we confront a challenge head-on. Pushing through the problem, often against the odds, to overcome it.
Whereas the flight response is our desire to avoid or escape the challenge. Retreating and protecting ourselves from perceived harm.
Each approach has its pros and cons.
The fight response, if successful, can be empowering and energizing. Motivating us by proving our competence in dealing with challenges.
The downside to always being in this attack mode is that it can lead to burnout and stress.
The flight response can be a healthy way to protect ourselves from harm and allow us time to devise a more painless path.
But giving in to the fear of the problem can lead to avoidance, procrastination, and missed opportunities.
So how do we know which response is right for us?
The answer lies in our own motivations and passions.
When faced with difficult challenges, we need to find the real reason that is driving us to take it on.
- Is it a duty? An obligation? A reward? A passion? Pride?
Understanding what is truly driving or motivating us helps us to choose whether to fight or flee.
We should also consider the ramifications of each outcome - the best and worst-case scenarios.
Preparing for and accepting the outcome of success or failure requires two very different mindsets.
Here are a few tips and strategies for handling difficult situations:
- Take a break and revisit the problem with fresh eyes and a clear mind.
- Minimise the larger challenge into smaller, more manageable steps.
- Get external advice from others that have a different perspective.
- Reflect on how far you've come, rather than how far there is left to go.
All of the difficult situations we face require self-reflection and action.
When we understand our motives and passions, we can choose the best response.
The next time you find yourself faced with a difficult situation, reflect on what's driving you and ask yourself a dozen "whats", "why's" and "hows ".