What Do Opossums Have To Do With You

Kim Strobel Yellow

Survival and conflict are on our minds in these turbulent times. We are discussing life and death types of fears at a national level, from racism and from disease. 

Without taking anything from the significance of those real concerns, we experience stressors on micro-levels every day and learning to manage the stressors that are within our span of control is so key if we are going to have the mental space to deal with bigger things in a way that feels right.

You’ve probably heard of the “fight or flight” response. This is how your body reacts to danger to help you survive. Your heart beats faster. Your muscles become tense so you’re ready to spring into action. 

Adrenaline begins to pump throughout your body. This is all to get you ready to fight back or run away from the danger like we had to do in archaic times.

All of this is done automatically, completely outside of your control.

But we actually have a third stress response to danger called freeze.

What is the freeze response?

I want you to think of playing opossum.  As soon as an opossum feels any kind of threat, they fall over, frozen.

In less than a second, the brain decides that freezing (rather than fighting or running away) is the best way to survive what’s happening. 

So what does this have to do with you right now?

In light of recent events, many of us have just surrendered instead of pushing through and holding onto our visions for our life, our businesses, and even our schools before everything got so out of hand. 

Yes, the way life has changed is making us pivot. Yes, there’s a lot of uncertainty and unrest. And yes, we can still hold onto our vision we had before and keep moving the needle. 

But that means we have to take courageous action. 

  • This might mean we make decisions that are more progressive and risky than others are making.
  • This might mean we brainstorm and look for the opportunities that come from this situation.
  • This might mean you keep steering the ship even in turbulent waters because you are the captain of your ship and your family, team, or organization is looking to you to keep us moving forward. 
  • This might mean you plan, strategize, and take action just as you always have and you do so with courage and conviction.

At some point, we all have to get back on the horse…to resume the vision we once held and know that we can and will rise again. 

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