Fight or flight?

One of my amazing clients, who now due to the wonderful nature of this job I can count as a friend also, is off for a tough interview today. The final part of a serious selection process for a very serious job. She is beyond good and yet with all her talents and achievements at the last moment she, like so many of us, could hear the small voice inside suggesting that this was all just too much and was she really up for this?

In her job she deals with issues that would be way beyond the realms of most mere mortals and does so with a calm precision and authority that can only inspire and still when taking this one step to promote herself, self doubts arise.

When we talked I suggested that maybe in this extreme stress her mind had switched into flight or fight. Everything within us screams ’get out – you do not need to do this’ as if our lives were actually at risk. And yet it is at these times, when we stay in the line of fire and face our fears, that we are able to move on and up and help us increase our sense of worth.

This fight or flight response, brought forward from a time of more frequent physical danger always serves to remind me how amazing we are as humans. As the stress hormones are released blood pulls away from our digestive systems, hence the feeling of butterflies in the stomach, and surges towards our major muscles in our legs and arms allowing for a swift escape. Now, I can see that might feel all a bit pointless at the moments before you face a tough panel of questioners, but what also happens is that all these reactions sharpen your eyesight and hearing and render you to be hyper-vigilant. Absolutely a plus for facing that tough panel. So when the butterflies arrive I would suggest welcoming them, they are a clear indicator that you are pushing the boundaries and moving up and on with your life and it’s challenges.

And that voice in our head telling us we are not good enough? That we are in truth the most awful failure and we will fail to get what we want. Well that is just your mind trying to protect you. And you are so much stronger than that and you really do not need that kind of protection, That is the sort of self protection that holds you back from taking a chance and in the long term makes those self defeating internal messages stronger. The world is never served by you being less than you are capable of. Every experience is an opportunity to learn something. Win or lose we have the chance to understand more and in the event of a poor result we can congratulate ourselves on the effort of trying, and marvel as we see that we have, and will, survive. And when we succeed we must always remember to enjoy and saviour that moment too, never marginalising the effort it took and always remembering the new opportunities and responsibilities any success, however small, will bring.

Onwards and upwards, and as Eleanor Roosevelt said ‘Do one thing every day that scares you’

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