Do You Fight or Freeze?

1 Timothy 3:4-5 – He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?

When there is anxiety in the family, the members commonly respond in one of four ways. In flight, some people choose to avoid the anxious person or situation, hide in their room, put their headphones on, leave home, or even run away. 

In fight, some people choose to take a side, form an alliance, and escalate an argument against a family member, which ends up pushing the whole family into a tense situation that can even result in physical confrontation in addition to cursing and raised voices. 

In freeze, some people are overwhelmed by all the anxiety and do not know what to say or do as they start to shut down and possibly even disassociate, as they are incapable of controlling their emotions. 

In caregive, someone makes it their responsibility to carry the emotional burden of the person in the family carrying anxiety. 

The person assuming the role of caregiver in the family falls into some common traps. One, they are so focused on the problems of the present that they cannot plan for the future, and so they are indefinitely stuck in enmeshment, unable to differentiate from their birth family to leave and cleave and start a healthy new family. Two, they are so focused on the needs of others that they overlook their needs, and the needs of their spouse and children, as their priorities are out of order. Three, they become exhausted trying to care give for both their extended and immediate family, which leads to burnout, sickness, and general unhealth. 

In extreme caregiving situations, a person can develop a savior complex. They feel like they alone can save a family member from some terrible fate. They take upon themselves the success or failure, or even life or death, of other family members. Like the real Savior, Jesus Christ, they lay down their life so that others can live. The only problem is, of course, God never called anyone but His Son to be a Savior. 

Are you more prone to choose fight, flight, freeze, or caregive in stressful situations?

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