Faced with challenging circumstances the predominant human response is most often flight or fight.
“Flight: people (who) deny pain altogether and refuse to carry the shadow side of anything in themselves or in their chosen groups…There will be no problems. It is a form of narcotic, and at times probably necessary to get some people through the day.”
“Fight: people who want to change, fix, control, and reform other people and events.” Richard Rohr
In my experience our flight response is rooted in avoidance over accountability. Choosing, often at great personal sacrifice, to “go along to get along.” Choosing to disengage rather than to engage when navigating a difficult situation.
Our fight response on the other hand in my experience is rooted in a deep sense of self righteousness. The pursuit of “correcting” is often understood as a higher calling and as such is worth whatever the personal or professional cost.
There is however a sweet spot between pollyanna and the prosecutor, between no accountability and self righteous accountability. Richard Rohr describes it this way, “The best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better.” The sweet spot, this third way, is being present. When we choose to be present, to lean into the difficult place, we respect both our own and others’ integrity. When we choose to be present we are in a listening, learning posture rather than win – lose. When we choose to be present we are engaged in bringing our perspective and honoring the perspective of the other.
Pollyanna wants to avoid. Prosecutor wants to win. Present wants to reconcile and ultimately bring forth transformation for all.
“And with each encounter, new possibilities of collaboration are presented, and new ideas are born.” I Want to Age Like Sea Glass – Bernadette Noll