What happens when you freeze instead of fight or flee? Is there anything you can do when you simply can’t function? In the first segment, I talk about the inability to move or sometimes even think when something or someone triggers you or you become stressed.
Freezing can often come from childhood when you felt like you could do nothing during a traumatic event. Learn to train yourself to stay aware of what’s happening so that the freeze doesn’t come.
In segment two I talk about how what didn’t work in your last relationship is something you can take with you into your next one. Do you know what didn’t work? You should explore that if not, otherwise, you may end up with the same problems as before. It’s about becoming wise for the future of your happiness.
In segment three, I talk about the suffering from a breakup and how you can feel empty inside. A breakup or divorce can leave a hole in your heart that needs to be filled. I talk about what it takes to start rebuilding what’s missing so that you can start to heal your emotional wounds before you drown in the void of emptiness.
You are the first person I’ve seen to add freeze to the flight or fight of the primitive part of the brain known as the hypothalamus. However, I’ve never thought to search for it since it has always seemed to be the only spoken response to conflict.
Your article deals with “freezing” in regards to relationships, but I am curious about freezing when looking for a new job, taking any leap of faith, or any making any major decision. I have been “frozen” while looking for a new job. Since I spent over 30 years on the same type employment track I was laid off.
I tried becoming a cashier (which, even since high school, I’d never done), to see if I could be less stressed. I spent the better part of my career that included working 80 hours per week in order to maintain deadlines. I didn’t mind doing the work, or the overtime, but the constant pressure was more than I could handle even though it took someone else to make me realize it.
Since trying to work as a cashier, I’ve been almost more stressed since I couldn’t make a difference. I loved working with the public, but couldn’t stand being treated like a teenager who hadn’t spent a lifetime learning. I actually admire the other older employees, who had also had other careers, but endure being treated as if they had nothing substantial to offer.
I’ve spent over a year living off of my 401K (and paying the penalties to do so) because I’ve been “frozen”. When I look at the opportunities available that request skills or certifications in data analysis I feel like I don’t have a chance. I am old school and don’t understand why it takes a degree or certification to make beneficial recommendations – specifically if you know the business and their objectives.
Seeing all of the requested or required qualifications causes me to freeze and look for a position that has fewer pre-requisites. I’ve always believed in under selling and over delivering. Because of that, I’ve never disappointed any employer I’ve ever worked for.
Even though I know so many people oversell the skills they have, I don’t feel like I should have to lie to compete with them. Therefore, I freeze – and would love to know what your thoughts are.
I love questions about going after work. One of the most relieving steps I took in my entire work life was stepping out of trying to impress anyone and just showing up as myself – full of “I don’t know that, but I can learn it” and showing them my true personality.
My interviews were less about my qualifications and more about enjoying the conversation. I’ve found that many employers look for intrinsic personality characteristics (even subconsciously) instead of focusing solely on qualifications.
Yes, qualifications are important. But in my experience, if you have basics to do the job, and you have a great personality to go along with those qualifications, you are more likely going to get the job. I don’t think it works this way at NASA or if you’re applying to be an engineer, but for the most part, people want to be with people they like.
I once applied for a job where the person I was up against had super skills that I did not possess. While in the waiting room, I made the decision to show up in full authenticity and just let my personality through.
We got along great!
A day or two later I got a phone call from the manager. She said the other person they interviewed was exactly what they were looking for. He had everything they needed. But… they were choosing me.
I asked why. She said, “Because we liked you better.”
This completely reinforced what I already started believing: People want to be with people they like. And ever since then, whenever I applied for a new job, I showed up as me, not someone I wanted to impress them with. I don’t have to do that anymore now that I found a vocation I enjoy and fits me perfectly.
I realize this isn’t a resolution to the freeze you may be going through, but I want you to install the idea that people like working with people they like. If you truly want to let the pressure off, show up not trying to get the job, show up as you whether you get the job or not. Don’t rely on getting the job, rely on being yourself without an attachment to the job. It’s SO much easier and helps you enjoy the interview process a whole lot more.
Now obviously the freeze you are experiencing is more than just what I’m talking about here. It’s deeper than that, I realize. I’m sure we could dig into the cause but what I like to do is just try different behavior and see if the cause even matters anymore.
For example, sign up for a job you know you’re not entirely qualified for making it your goal to have a good time during the interview and be honest about everything you know or don’t know. This is so freeing.
I once applied for a job that I knew I wasn’t fully qualified for, and it turns out neither were the other candidates! In fact, not only were they not qualified, they were barely present in the interview. When I showed up, not caring if I got the job or not (I didn’t say that to them, I just presented an air of confidence and no attachment), it was a breath of fresh air to them. They found someone that communicate well and had a good personality. This was another lesson that I could be the most qualified of the candidates even though I wasn’t fully qualified for the job!
The bottom line is about attachment and thinking you have to sell or impress anyone. When you aren’t desperate for a job, you tend to show up as more authentic.
If you honestly didn’t care if you got the job or not, do you think you would still freeze?
There’s also perhaps some fear of the judgments of others in you (and maybe a bit of perfectionism?)
Lots to talk about there. Here’s the episode on perfectionism (if it applies):
It seems to me that a bunch of companies are storing our information in a database and then sorting by the number of and years of skills they are looking for. The personality traits, values and attitudes weren’t taken into consideration until you actually got an interview.
I’ve always been an undersell and over deliver type of person. It always seemed to get my foot in the door. I’ve never embellished my skills because I didn’t want to be in a position where I couldn’t deliver on time (even though I don’t think it takes much time to learn something new based on something you have a strong foundation in).
For instance, I applied as a receptionist at a digital marketing firm. After about a month and a half, I moved into the engineer department and almost doubled my initial salary. On the other hand I subsequently applied for a data analyst job and was immediately given the thumbs up because I had over 13 years of experience. The pay was about 1/2 of what I was making at my prime, but I didn’t care because I moved to a small town where I didn’t need or even want a huge salary.
Since moving to a small town near family and friends and owning my own house outright, I’ve found that the downside is that there aren’t many jobs that need the skills I have. I have no interest in relocating or traveling since I live in an almost perfect location.
So not being able to travel and not wanting to relocate, I’ve frozen again. I can still afford to start at the bottom and work my way up, but my physical location seems to be a barrier to even be considered. In a world where most IT jobs can be held “offsite” (especially when you consider work outsourced to other countries), I wish employers could take into consideration that it’s not only money that motivates someone.
I like to think I have a great relationship with anyone I work for. In fact several employers have asked me if worked for my relatives because of the recommendations my previous employers gave me. I don’t play politics, I enjoy making people laugh and I especially like to deliver more than anyone expects. 20 years ago I that it would be bragging. I was used to letting my work and my references speak for themselves.
I’m in uncharted waters trying to “sell” myself even though I know I can be a great asset to a company. I guess it’s time I start to un-freeze and sell.
😀 Thank you for sharing this – very inspirational to those that might find themselves in a frozen place.
I used to tell potential employers “I don’t bring drama to work”.
They loved it. There can be much pettiness in an office and the last thing the typical manager wants to deal with is petty drama.
The true freeze is a feeling of uselessness (and other things that veterans seem to face, not that I am one, but I have a few things in common with).
If I can actually get an interview I’m 75% sure I can get the job – as long as the company is willing to comply with the 2 requirements I have: I can’t relocate and I don’t travel. Is that too much to ask for if a personal appearance isn’t necessarily needed?
Along the same train of thought (of remote jobs), I see changes I can make everywhere I look. For example:
As a traffic director for radio stations I can definitely do a better job than what appears to be happening (not the helicopter traffic, but the art of scheduling commercials for breaks). The traffic director is in charge of not having the same commercial running twice in one break and not having competitive ads running back to back – as in having two different car commercials running one after another.
When I place orders with Walmart.com, they send an email that contains the items purchased, the total price and the delivery date(s). The problem here is that when an order is split up, the emails don’t necessarily contain all the purchase information (i.e. taxes). The same is true when all items have been delivered – the email totals don’t necessarily add up to the price charged in the original email.
In the job seeker sites, there are many configuration changes that can be made. These changes would be beneficial for both the employers and prospective employees. It is easy enough for employers to post their jobs, but infinitely more complicated for the job seekers. There are times when you may apply for 10 different jobs and each opportunity requires you to dissect your resume and/or work in 10 different ways. Sometimes the application process is so encumbered that applying for that specific job would take hours more than applying for a job with an easier interface.
So as a freezing point I have not only the sadness of working at a job where I can’t make a difference and trying to get an interview with a number of companies I know I can make a change in. And that doesn’t even take into consideration the jobs I truly want to have.
So yes, if I find a job that could be completely out of my skill range I would gladly apply if it didn’t take hours to finish an application. Even doing the footwork I still think it takes something else (like a personal reference) to get an interview.
I got most of my jobs because somebody knew somebody else. When the employment pool becomes nationally or even globally defined, it’s hard to use the personal references you might have collected.
Some of my Facebook friends told me I was too entitled to take a lower paying job. With the exception of physical requirements I would be happy to take those jobs (again), if I could actually make a difference.
Not only that, but there are way more teenagers who need those jobs to put on their resumes in order to become upwardly mobile.
In re-reading this post it looks like I am whining and need to apply for any and all jobs. It also seems like I need to settle for a job that uses maybe 5% of my skills. (This is part of what I spoke of when I talked about veterans)
I’ve always thought the things I was good at would be things I would always be good at. On the other hand, I always thought the bad things that happened to me would always happen.
It’s time I torched my soapbox and dig into reality. I never wanted to imply that I was a better employee than anyone else. No matter how hard it is, however, I need to become more humble. I hope I can get a job where I can make a difference but if not I hope I can do the best I can at any other job.