Ep. 7: Fight or Flight? ...Neither


In episode 7, Amadon DellErba talks about the fight or flight response that arises for us when we are met with certain situations in life. Ultimately, we should neither fight or flee. We need to shift our attitudes from reactions to responses; reactions being more emotional. He talks about being an aggressive soul, with a fighting spirit, who still tricks himself into avoiding some challenges in life.

We must be responsible and accountable for our actions, attitudes, and emotions. The "Fight or Flight" response is linked with victim-mentality. It must be acknowledged consciously. Our thinking is based on our beliefs and we can become delusional as we project our imagination into our reactions.

Amadon uses a passage from The URANTIA Book to illustrate the concept of changing your understanding through changing your perception. He also references the book, The Diamond Cutter by Michael Roach. He discusses the process of imprinting on our minds and the need to live with intention to transcend our past mindsets. Amadon speaks of reactions as being thoughts of our past and responses being thoughts of our present and future.

There is a good assertion that people can use to assess situations, adapt perceptions, and act with strength and compassion. This requires humility and self-control on the path to self-mastery. As he shares in this episode, "If you want to progress into an optimum spiritual human being, take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Don't cast blame."



Oftentimes our fight and flight instinct and our reaction is actually based off of past situations, past imprints in our mind. To me, emotional reaction is the past.  Intelligent response is the present.

“Nothing You Do Matters Unless What You Do Matters”

I’m Amadon DellErba and this is “Get Real or Die Trying”

What up tribe? Amadon DellErba here.  It’s Episode 7 of my podcast "Get Real or Die Trying”

Nothing you do matters, unless what you do matters.

Today I want to talk about fight or flight. What is fight or flight to you? It's a common saying. It's a common question. It's a common understanding and misunderstanding—fight or flight. I wanted to talk about this because I was having this conversation with my wife actually, and it was her idea. You got to give credit where credit is due. Just having a good intellectually and spiritually stimulating discussion about fight or flight and about our emotional responses; about our less than perfect reactions vs. responses.

As human beings, I think we all deal with the fight or flight situation in our lives. For me personally, it's been something I've been contemplating because in my life there are certain areas where I have this reaction. There are certain individuals, circumstances, topics that create this reactionary fight or flight mentality. But the thing is, what I'm finding is that fighting or fleeing are not the answers. It's really about responding. It's about analyzing the situation and responding appropriately. All situations have different qualifications for what the response level is and how you respond to it.

I think for me, I tend to be someone who is more aggressive, more alpha, more reactionary, more emotional in my reactions, and I'm not as responsive as I'd like to be. I am more reactionary—not to all things, but to certain things. Fight or flight. I'm naturally one of a fighting spirit. Some are not. Some people avoid conflict; avoid challenge. Some people tend to charge right into it; aren't afraid.  But even though I am more of a fighter, I still have areas in my life where I flee and I trick myself into thinking that I'm not fleeing. But I am.

I'm fleeing the responsibility to deal with the emotional response and the circumstance in the highest way.  You see with fight or flight, the act of fleeing and fighting is linked to a mentality of being a victim. And again, not taking accountability and responsibility. And so when you think you're a victim, you then give yourself permission, and you have an excuse to either fight this person, this circumstance, the situation...or you give yourself an excuse to run from this person, circumstance or situation. You take the responsibility off yourself and you put it on the amorphous situation; because you're a “victim” of the circumstance.  And so overcoming that emotional, childish response—I have found for me—has to do, again, with wanting to take responsibility for myself—for my actions, for my thinking, for my doing.

We as human beings tend to desire to control circumstances that are outside of our control. The only thing that we can control is ourselves. And even then, it's the biggest and largest challenge that we might ever face in many ways.  That's why the pursuit to self-mastery is the whole theme of my podcast because I am constantly blessed with the opportunities to realize how I lack self-mastery; how I lack self-control in certain areas of my life, and how I need to practice those things more. And so if a situation comes up and I have the fight or flight reaction, I then need to go to the mature spiritual place of understanding that I need to have self-mastery in that moment and I need to respond rather than react.

One thing I feel too is that our thoughts are dictated often by our beliefs. Our beliefs qualify and quantify our thoughts. We can believe something that actually really is not true. We can believe something about somebody, or the way they said something, or about a circumstance. We can believe that this is happening, and it feels this way, but it's actually not fact.  And so our belief dictates our thoughts, which dictates our emotional response; our emotional reaction.  Responding vs. reacting.  And this happens all the time, every day in people's lives.

You see, the difference between being conscious and unconscious is that at some point during your life you start becoming conscious of your every action.  You pull up to the stop sign and the person who's behind you is mad because you didn't slow down fast enough, or whatever. Some type of car rage situation...they pull up to you and they throw you the bird; they start cussing at you. When you have consciousness, you decide in that moment how you're going to react or respond to that person. Do you return the negative reaction to them?  Or do you respond?  Or not respond at all?  A simple, very basic, crude analogy. But we are faced with these circumstances all day long throughout all of our day and our interactions with our loved ones, family, coworkers, random strangers, everything. And so we can make a choice to conduct ourselves appropriately through our days.

Belief. I want to talk about belief and how belief, for me, has distorted my thinking in some ways.  You see imaginary hurts and having delusional thinking about people in circumstances is a real thing, and you begin to believe it. And so I think sometimes we make the mistake of addressing these lower patterns in ourselves in a logical way of trying to address the psychological response. But really there is a spiritual understanding that we've convinced ourselves and belief comes in.  Because the belief, again, dictates how we think—the belief of something. When you believe somebody is out to get you, when you believe this person is doing this, when you believe this person is going to hurt you because your perception sees it that way, you react according to your beliefs, which dictate your thoughts and reactions.

I want to read a passage from The URANTIA Book that illustrates this in a beautiful way and has really helped me over the years to redefine my thinking process around these situations. The URANTIA Book is a book that I've studied daily, that is a huge part of my life, that is a very important tool for my spiritual growth and my religious lifestyle.  When I say religious, I don't mean any dogmatic, antiquated, evolutionary religion and religious lifestyle that most of you people are thinking about when I say that word, I'll leave it at that.

This is from The URANTIA Book [Paper 100, Section 4, Paragraph 5]:

“In the mind’s eye conjure up a picture of one of your primitive ancestors of cave-dwelling times—a short, misshapen, filthy, snarling hulk of a man standing, legs spread, club upraised, breathing hate and animosity as he looks fiercely just ahead. Such a picture hardly depicts the divine dignity of man. But allow us to enlarge the picture. In front of this animated human crouches a saber-toothed tiger. Behind him, a woman and two children. Immediately you recognize that such a picture stands for the beginnings of much that is fine and noble in the human race, but the man is the same in both pictures. Only, in the second sketch you are favored with a widened horizon. You therein discern the motivation of this evolving mortal. His attitude becomes praiseworthy because you understand him. If you could only fathom the motives of your associates, how much better you would understand them. If you could only know your fellows, you would eventually fall in love with them.”

Once again, that's from The URANTIA Book, Paper 100.  So there it's depicting that we see this situation—we have this narrow perception, we see this man snarling with hate, animosity, and this club—and that's all we see and we think, “Wow, he's angry and he's so primitive and this and that. What is he doing?  He's violent.”  But then we step back and we widen our perception, and we see more of the reality; the real tangible reality.  There's a saber tooth tiger. We step back even further and widen our perception and we see his wife and his child and he's protecting them, and all the sudden what we thought was anger, animosity and lower traits becomes higher traits of nobility and courage and strength.  Nothing changed. What changed was our perception. What changed was our perception of the circumstance. What a powerful thing.

And so in our lives we have many, many opportunities to have that perception change, to have our consciousness expanded, to have our reality of a circumstance adjusted. Take a minute, think about something in your life—someone, a situation, anything—where you feel like your perception may be like this—a narrow little box—and you're not seeing the wider, bigger picture. You're not seeing all of the factors involved. You're not seeing the saber tooth tiger. You're not seeing the wife and child behind him that he's protecting.  All you're seeing is his face and his club, and that's all.  Step back.

How does that relate to fight or flight? It relates because I think our perception of the reality and circumstance before us dictates our reaction or response. And so then, once again, the accountability is back on us as individuals. The responsibility is back on us as individuals to change and to adjust our perception.

There's another great book called The Diamond Cutter.  I've been studying it for about three and a half years now. It's by Michael Roach. Michael Roach was the first westerner, white man, to reach the Geshe terminology and status of a Buddhist monk, which means he spent 20 years in a monastery studying Buddhism—20 years straight. And so he became very versed in the Buddhist philosophy and teachings and spiritual principles as a monk.  He was assigned by his teacher to go back to America and work in business.  And to go back to New York and specifically work in the diamond business. Wow, what a strange thing to go from a monastery to the diamond business.

So the reason why this was his assignment was he was asked to apply everything he had learned—all of the Buddhist principles, all of the spiritual principles—into a business environment; into a cutthroat, terrible environment.  But one of the principles in The Diamond Cutter—one of the Buddhist principles—talks about every decision, every action is a seed that is planted; it's an imprint and it's planted in our mind, and then it grows into something.  And it really illustrates the power of thoughts, and control, and intention, and changing those and creating positive imprints; creating positive change within our minds.  Oftentimes our fight and flight instinct and our reaction is actually based off of past situations, past imprints in our mind. To me, emotional reaction is the past.  Intelligent response is the present.  When we respond intelligently, we are in the now, we are in the present, and we are even in the future.  When we react with emotions and lower traits of anger, and whatever else, we are in the past; those are imprints from the past. Those imprints dictate how we respond. Again, this is a spiritual principle of being in the moment and understanding that we are in control.

Thus enters the need for the relationship, an active desire to be in God's will. And you see, for me, being in God's will is literally a moment to moment thing. And it's a conscious decision and prayer and adjustment of ourselves and our thoughts and our reality. And so we're not thinking, “Oh, this person just came in and said, “F you to you.  Oh, I'm going to be in God's will right now and not respond, I mean not react.” Our first thing is to respond or to react in a way that probably isn't the highest.  What would separate someone who responds in a higher way and someone who doesn't. Well, I think what separates them is self-control, emotional-control, and the commitment to practicing the spiritual values that they wish to live by.  And in order to practice those spiritual values, you have to have intention, intention. And so the intention to do better, to be better is a daily thing. It's a daily practice.

I want to read another quote here that I came across recently. It's by Charles F Glassman. “The aggressive person fights.  The passive one runs away.  But the assertive person stands ground, assesses the situation, adapts, and acts with purpose and passion.  Be that person.”

Assesses a situation, adapts, and acts with purpose and passion.  An assertive person. There's a good assertiveness that we need to have because that assertiveness links back to responsibility and accountability, and not having a victim mindset in a certain situation, and understanding that you need to assert yourself and take control of your emotional reactions, your responses.

So much plays into the patterns in our mind, and our thinking, and our emotional response patterns. For me personally, analyzing certain situations in my life where I can react a certain way, I'm reacting in a childish way that was imprinted in my heart, mind, and soul from, literally, childhood. And my perception of this situation is still childish—it has not evolved, it has not ascended, it isn't changed. So it is only through, 1) recognizing it, 2) actively trying to change it, and 3) changing it in union with a spiritual power, and changing it in union with God, can I overcome this.

You see, I can logically understand that I have this weakness—I can logically identify it, know when it’s going to come up and when it's not going to come up—but I can't change it until I change my beliefs about this situation, or this person in this circumstance that triggers the past.  And so I'm stuck in the past when I respond like that.  Again, reactionary response is the past; intelligent response is the future.  Reactionary response is past thinking. It's going back to Egypt. Intelligent, loving spiritual response is being in the present and being in the now—not allowing what's happened in the past to cloud your vision, your perception. You go back to that perception being narrowed down into a tiny little box—you're not seeing the bigger picture, you're not seeing everything.

So I think this is important for us human beings—on this pursuit to self-mastery, this pursuit to growth, this pursuit to maturing spiritually, this pursuit to being the best human beings we can—it's important for us to think about these things, to have these conversations with our friends, our family, our loved ones, the people we struggle with. To begin identifying our reactionary emotional responses, those imprints.

Check out The URANTIA Book. That paper has a lot of great stuff in it— Paper 100.  The book I mentioned earlier, The Diamond Cutter. Wonderful book about this blending the spiritual principles of Buddhism into our daily life.  Now, he wrote this in a way that addresses business problems in a business environment, but they're really human problems.

One of the biggest Buddhist principles is compassion. It's easy to talk about compassion, but it's difficult to practice compassion with people you're not compassionate towards.  It's quite simple.  And, this show's about being real, so let's get real. There are people in our lives that we have no compassion for, we have no tolerance for, we don't want to be around. We don't like them. We certainly don't love them, and they challenge us. This could be your coworker, could be your family member, it could be your ex, it could be anybody.  And so if you're in your car and you're listening to this podcast, or you're watching this podcast, maybe you think about who is somebody in your life that challenges you, that you don't like, that bothers you, that you have a hard time being around, but you have to be around because you work with them, because they live in the same house with you, because it's your brother or your sister, or it's your ex wife that you have to deal with, or your ex-husband because you have to pick up the kids from them.  Whatever it is.  These are real life situations and instead of constantly being a victim of whatever they did to you, take accountability for all you can do, which is control yourself and how you conduct yourself with them. You will be surprised what a relief it is to wake up and realize that you don't have to be in a sh*tty space because of them.  You're in control. Even if they are inappropriately aggressive towards you—even if they don't even like you, even if they're not showing you love and respect—you don't have to respond in the same way, which is actually reactionary. You don't have to have that fight or flight reaction every time you get a call from this person that triggers you.  You can take the control of your response and you can have compassion.

And so, for me, I'm always logically analyzing my psychospiritual responses, my psychological responses, and I'm trying to bring in spiritual values into how I conduct myself.  And I fail all the time and I'm reminded, luckily, by my friends, my family, my wife, “Hey, you're being an idiot. Hey, you're being chauvinistic.  Hey, you're being prideful.  Hey, you're being aggressive.  Hey, you're being too opinionated. Hey, you're being a bulldozer and just forcing yourself into this situation.”  Wow. All those things are being told to me. So what do I do?  Do I take that in and think about how I can control, adjust, change, adapt those things?  Or do I react defensively and defend my life?  Which is what we all do as human beings.  If you want to progress into an optimum spiritual human being, take responsibility for yourself and your actions. Don't cast blame. I still cast blame. I'm not saying I'm someone who's figured it out to perfection in any way. I can talk on this because I have suffered personally and I have kept myself in bondage, in chains.  I have kept my perception small in certain situations, and I have suffered because of it.  And I have just turned some corners in some areas, and other areas of my life I turned those corners a long time ago; so I can talk about it.  But this is a lifelong pursuit, my friends.  We're all in this together.

And so breaking out of these confines—that we actually put on ourselves and then we blame others for it—breaking out of these confines is liberating. It takes courage. It takes strength.  It takes humility; it takes tremendous humility because it's easy to sit there and think you're chained up and that this other person has the key when you're holding the key the whole time. It takes humility to admit that you're wrong.  It takes humility to suffer with dignity, to accept fault with dignity.  Humility is not, not having dignity. People will mistake this word “humility” like it's weakness. Humility is the strongest thing you can act in; it really is.

And so, whatever it is in your life—again, you're listening to this podcast...there's this person—my goal is to hope that these words help you deal with your next life circumstance differently. I'm not here trying to teach and pontificate upon realities that are so far fetched that they don't actually happen in your daily life. I'm here to talk to you about how you can respond differently when the person drives up to you and says, “F you” and throws you the bird because you didn't drive properly.  In that moment you have a choice. Now this is life. Simple, simple situations like that happen all the time, and then bigger situations happen. But if we can't contain ourselves and conduct ourselves in the simple situations of life—the challenges—how can we contain ourselves and conduct ourselves in the big challenging situations in life?

Start small, my friends.  ABC—conquer those; work your way up. Challenge yourself to do things differently. Fight or flight, my friends. To me, it's not...you don't have just those two options—to fight or to flee. You have the option to respond with love. There's the third option, the fourth option, the fifth option. 

In conjunction with the higher spiritual circuitry that we are gifted with we can respond in a higher way all the time.  And I fail, and that's why I know we can do it— because when I do it, it's so much more freeing and relieving than responding in the lower circuitry, in the anger, and the fear.

So, my friends, that's my little spiel on fight or flight. I'd like to say it's not about fight or flight.  It's about being present for the moment.  It's about being humble enough to respond rather than react in defense. It's about being spiritually intelligent enough to see the bigger picture—to pull back the blinds, to expand the perception, and to see it all—to analyze the situation with love, compassion; compassionate thinking is so freeing and I'm finding that out so much.  Defensive thinking vs. compassionate thinking—where do you want to be?  Do you want to be a compassionate person?  Or do you want to be an angry, defensive person? It's up to you. Nobody else. You can choose to respond to the exact same situation in two different ways, compassionately or defensively.

So, in closing, I challenge you to go about your day—today when you're listening to this, or tomorrow or the next day, or any time—with these mindsets in place with these principles in place.  And the next person that pisses you off, respond in the right way.  Respond with compassion and see how it works for you.  I know that I'll fail probably tonight, after this podcast.  But I'm going to try to do better and you can too.

I’m Amadon DellErba and this is Get Real or Die Trying, Episode 7:  Fight or Flight.

Check out my website at http://getrealordietrying.com

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And remember: "Pain is Temporary. Victory is Eternal."