When you get stressed do you respond by yelling and shouting or do you retreat in your inside world and hope the stress goes away?

Often your body will give you  the first sign that you are uncomfortable and on the way to that slippery slide we call stress. You may feel a twinge of pain in your neck, shoulders or a pain in the gut or that horrible migraine.

When  it comes to uncomfortable or stressful conversations or personal encounters we respond habitually with our own stress signature.

Fight Or Flight?

We all respond to stress in one of 2 ways, you may become angry and aggressive. You feel you want to take down the person in front of you or control the stressful situation. This is the FIGHT response.


You may retreat and withdraw as if you were fleeing from the stressful situation. This is the FLIGHT response.

Our biology dictates that we respond with the fight or flight response.

Here are typical responses to stress.

Which one represents you?

The “fight response” to stress

  1. In the middle of difficult conversations, you get caught up in arguing and you lose sight of how you’re coming across.
  2. Your voice gets louder as you become stressed.
  3. In an argument, your voice reaches a higher pitch and you become whiny.
  4. If a conversation gets heated, you respond by being tough on the other person and you may insult or hurt.
  5. In order to get your point across in an argument, you might exaggerate your side of the argument.
  6. There are people that you are tough on because they deserve it
  7. You sometimes make absolute statements like “it’s obvious that…’ or “the facts are… “. This helps you get your point across.

The “flight response” to stress

  1. You may avoid situations or people that may cause you stress
  2. You may procrastinate and put off responding to emails from people that cause you stress
  3. You’re inclined to avoid situations that bring you into contact with people, that you find difficult.
  4. When conversations get heated, you just stop talking and go inside.
  5. Sometimes you make excuses to exit a room when the conversation gets heated
  6. Sometimes when people bring up a touchy or awkward issue, you try to change the subject
  7. When a conversation becomes stressful, you hold back rather than give your full and candid opinion.

The most important thing is the awareness of your style of response to stress and if you don’t like it, you can change it with mindful awareness.

Iman Iskander is a Clinical Social Worker with a psychotherapy practice in Sydney. She is passionate about interactional intelligence -between people and within each person. She specialises in  human interactions, mindful relationships and self mastery. Iman holds engaging workshops for the public and in the corporate sector  in Sydney CBD.

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