Fight or Flight / Tend and Befriend
Have you listened to brenebrown’s conversation with elizlesser on the power of women’s stories?
Weaving together threads of ancient mythology with modern psychology and our current reality, an empowering takeaway for me was learning about how the fight/flight response applies to women.
Originating from research by Walter Cannon in the 1930s, fight or flight looks at how people respond in times of stress - but as with much academic research, this was based on men.
It wasn’t until the early 2000s that a researcher called Shelley Taylor questioned how this might differ in the female experience of stress and trauma leading her to come up with a parallel definition - Tend and Befriend Theory.
Tend - to those in need, the young, the elderly, the less able. Either physically or mentally, as we‘re experiencing so much more acutely now with openness around mental health. We cannot simply go by where we can visually see someone is in need. We have to ask, take time, empathise.
Befriend - actively creating a sense of belonging, connection and finding common ground.
Instead of lashing out through fear based agression, the female response is often biochemically to look inwards within the community.
At many times this year we have felt restricted, isolated and sapped of our usual freedom to gather and connect, having to consult rules, numbers, tiers and timings. But the female instinct, as defined in Shelley’s research, is undoubtedly what we’ve felt embodied in our communities.
Are you ok? How are you feeling?
If the answer is not good, reach out, make a plan, connect.
With a dear friend who was needing just that, this morning was all about tend and befriend.
What can I offer?
A nudge to wake early with a flask of tea and breakfast offerings. She cycled across London in the darkness to be rewarded by a sky that was honestly the most beautiful of the past week.
We stretched, breathed deep and stood in awe. We walked, shared and listened and left eachother better than we’d found. ...