Through A Healing Lens: Overactive Fight/Flight Mode

Through a Healing Lens is a Q&A segment on Surviving Childhood Trauma where I address questions and inquiries from you, the survivor living in the aftermath of your childhood and trying to make sense of your healing journey.

In these Q&As I will share my experiences and the tips and tricks I have picked up along the way and to aid in moving my healing forward.

Question: My childhood abuse caused me to have a severe overactive fight or flight response. I’m wondering how I can overcome this since it’s a huge hindrance in every day life when I’m faced with the smallest confrontation and I feel as though my body betrays me and becomes uncontrollable. I wish to overcome this.

Anonymous Survivor

Through A Healing Lens

I Understand Fight/Flight

It feels so invasive when our minds and bodies feel like they are working against us. I understand that feeling deeply. Through my own healing, learning to identify, feel, and navigate my emotions has been a huge learning curve for me. Similarly to you, when I feel I am confronted with defending myself in any way if I am not careful, I can fall seamlessly into what feels like an uncontrollable fight mode. Not physically, or even disrespectfully – but protective barriers go up, my adrenaline spikes, my mind goes foggy, and I become highly defensive and forceful.

Or, if possible – I will find a way to avoid the whole situation completely. Then I can work out all of the anxiety and negative thoughts about myself alone in my own head. Once I have it processed and know best how to keep myself safe, I reemerge.

What a ride both responses take me on.

Just remember, fight/flight is your mind and body’s way of protecting you from a perceived threat of danger. It is a testament to, and an echo of, the survival skills you learned from too early an age to remember. Fight/flight is nothing to be ashamed of, but I understand wanting to regain control of the reins.


Techniques & Practices to Help with Emotional Regulation

I wish I could offer up a magical solution that once done would rid you of all the challenges you face when navigating situations that trigger big emotions, but I cannot. What I can do is share with you some of the tools I have learned in my own healing that when used together are helping me heal my nervous system as I slowly gain a sense of control over my responses/reactions.

Somatic Healing Exercises

Any type of activity that incorporates awareness, intention, and your body can be powerful in trauma healing. As a child you may have learned to turn off and disconnect from yourself to survive. Now as you heal, moments of emotional connection can be extremely dysregulating.

Activities that you choose, which assist you in reconnecting to your body can help you learn to feel safety and trust within you body which is necessary when it comes time to support yourself through a trigger.

Yoga, intuitive dance, meditation, massage, reiki, acupuncture, tapping, and poly vagal exercises are just a few of the things that you can try.

Peer Support

There is something very magical when survivors come into the same space and connect through shared lived experiences. No one understands what it means to live with childhood trauma better than a fellow survivor. In Peer Support Groups, survivors share their experiences living with complex PTSD and navigating work, friends, and family dynamics while healing.

Peer Support is a great place to receive support, process experiences, and gain resources all while connecting with others.

Professional Therapy

Therapy doesn’t work for everyone, but it can be a very helpful tool if you find the right therapist. Having a safe space that is dedicated to you for processing out loud after years of silence is powerful and there are different types of modalities to be used so you can tailor fit your healing.

EMDR is good for reprocessing memories and beliefs while also desensitizing your mind and body to the responses of said memories and beliefs. CBT is good for learning new cognitive skills with help and support in changing your behaviors. This is can be useful when focusing on executive function challenges. Neurofeedback can assist with targeting and rewiring specific pathways in the brain.


Journaling is a powerful tool for leaning in and reflecting on your experiences and how you respond to them. Focused journaling can assist you in both tracking and recognizing: behavioral patterns, external triggers, and deeper beliefs systems that you hold about yourself and the world. All things that may be influenced by your childhood experiences in ways that no longer serve you now and that are manifesting in what feels like over reactive responses

Final Thoughts

I want you to know that you are not alone navigating fight/flight mode when you feel confronted. Or in feeling like every emotional response is an overreaction. Emotional overwhelm in the wake of childhood trauma is a beast work through. It is hard to mange emotions when you were never taught how to as a child, and it is hard to take off our protective armor even when we know we are safe. Be gentle with yourself, I am walking with you.



Ask A Question

Submit your own question to Shanon at Surviving Childhood Trauma and keep an eye out for a reply.

In submitting a question your email address will be added to the Surviving Childhood Trauma email list. You will not be spammed and your information will be kept confidential.

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Looking for Ways to Connect With Other Survivors and/or Receive Support as You Heal?

Survivor’s Circle Peer Support Groups might be just what you need. 

These small groups meet on alternating days of the week via Zoom. In these groups, survivors connect, share, and support each other through the ebbs and flows of healing. Attend a session and experience the magical healing that happens when survivors connect and support each other through shit only we can understand.

You can also book individual 1:1 peer support sessions with Shanon for private support in a closed space. You deserve support as you heal, and I am here to help. You don’t have to heal alone.

On the Journey Peer Support Monthly Package

As a part of this monthly support program you will gain access to all Survivor’s Circle Peer Support group support sessions every month as well as individual 1:1 peer support sessions with Shanon each month. 

Hi, I am Shanon 

I am a trauma informed, trained, and Certified Peer Support Specialist in the state of Wisconsin. I am also a survivor with years committed to my own trauma healing after being diagnosed with (C) PTSD due to childhood abuse. Additionally, I have a professional and personal history of community facilitation and peer work.

I specialize in helping survivors like you make connections between real time experiences and past trauma wounds, identify and communicate boundaries, create self-care plans that work, navigate big emotions and trauma responses, reparent your inner child, and embody your own self-worth through the healing process with confidence and personal empowerment.

These support groups and 1:1 peer support sessions should not replace professional therapy; they will however provide additional support and information.

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