Fearing Consequences: Double Binds

Targets of "Narc. abuse" often feel like they've lost themselves because they were conditioned to fear consequence from controllers.

What we do, as human animals, when there's a threat in the area:
We stop doing what we're doing and freeze, like deer, like cats, rabbits, and like dogs and wolves; like most land mammals, and other animals as well. We freeze and assess the situation with all of our senses; that's one of the main reasons our senses exist.

So we switch our focus from whatever we were doing to the threat. It's a survival mechanism that's kept us and other animals alive for eons.

Since we are humans with complex brains, some of us learn very early, either subconsciously or consciously, that humans respond to other humans this way also.

When we're in this response, our subconscious has taken over, we are not fully "conscious" and purposeful. We are no longer "Pro Active", we are REACTIVE.

We freeze and wait to see what's going to happen. We wait for a signal, a sign, a movement, in order to react with either fight or flight. Humans more often choose "flight", unless our subconscious believes that the threat is not a real danger.

When we are in a double-edged situation, where we receive consequences EITHER WAY, whether we run or stay and fight, we are in a "Double Bind". This is when our survival reaction switches to another mode: Submission. We submit to the situation we're in, because it's the best option for survival. We'll figure out how to get out of it later, but for now, whatever we try to do will give us a consequence, so we stay put.

Horses and elephants have been "trained" this way.

This submission response is not the LAST resort-reaction, but it means the situation is dire; we feel trapped in place, it's a "no-win" situation. If we fight back we'll receive serious consequences, and if we run away we'll receive serious consequences; the best option really is at this moment to stay in the situation and try to just humor and go along with the "threat".

Kind of like giving a grizzly bear your backpack because you don't think you can outrun it. You fight the bear, you're done, if you run away, it will catch you, and besides there's another bear on the path. Best option: give the bear what it wants, your food. All of your food. Every crumb, and hope that the bear becomes satiated or distracted so you can slip away. Talk sweetly to the bear, get it to calm down, try to get it to stop freaking out, and give it something it likes so it will stop focusing on YOU.

So you get a moment and casually slip away while the bear is chewing on your backpack, trying to open all the pockets. But you know it can smell you, track you, you are on its mind. Now you are not only something to chase, but you are the bearer of the food.

From now on, as long as you've got food to give the bear, it might not attack you.

So do you have any food left? Ahh yes in your jacket, some power bars and some trail mix.

So you run, as fast as you can, somehow get past the second bear, but the first bear catches up with you. So you try to climb a tree high enough so the bear can't reach you, and you take one of the power bars, break it in half, and throw it as far as you can. The bear doesn't notice it... You wave the other half so the bear can smell it, and you throw it near the other one. It works, the bear runs after it.

Now: Do you stay in the tree, or do you run? If you stay there you'll probably die, but then again the bear might get bored after a long while and wander away. But then again the bear can probably knock you out of the tree. But... then again, that's not the only Grizzly around here, when the others smell you and your food, they'll come. Another double bind: stay in the tree, or run?

You're exhausted by now, but you BETTER NOT eat any of that food, you have to save it to give to the bear. And if the bear sees you eating it, it will probably freak out and try to climb the tree or knock it down, or make a racket so the other bears hear; that's supposed to be BEAR FOOD.
Better to hide it in your jacket until you're going to give it to the bear.

Your food is no longer yours, you are giving it to the bear to keep it from attacking you. You do nothing at all except focus on keeping the bear calm and happy. You wait for a safe spot to make your move, but does it ever come? You wait for the bear to get agitated again because if you don't give it food and keep it calm, it will come after you. You worry that your food will run out and then the bear will come after you.
This is survival, and it's how Narcissistic abuse and Codependency works in a general analogy. After a while the dynamic between the bear and you, and the other bears in the area as well, becomes normalized, and is incorporated into your subconscious belief system. "The most important thing is keeping the bear calm, and avoiding drawing negative attention from other bears. Fighting the bear is too dangerous, running away is too dangerous, and dealing with the other bears is too dangerous. This is my only option until I can find a way out."
But that way out never comes, because you are waiting for the bear to make the decision. The fear, anxiety, and fatigue has worn you down, and now your getting too cold, and the sun is going down. You're subconsciously giving up, and resigning yourself to this fate. You sit in the tree, in a kind of strange camaraderie/truce with the bear on the ground below you, (but not really camaraderie). Darkness is closing in and you figure you're going to just be here for the rest of your time on Earth. You can see what's going to happen; either you'll fall asleep and fall, and either break something or the bear will eat you, or both. Or you'll run out of food and the bear will freak out and climb the tree, or knock it down, and eat you. Or you'll freeze to death, sitting in this tree. Or a pack of Grizzlies will join the one bear and knock the tree down.

This is "resignation", and losing yourself. You no longer feel like there are any viable options that will result in you having a real life again, even realistically surviving. ]

The resignation that you feel is a combination of the double-bind submission reaction, and your fatigue and exhaustion.

It's not actual reality; you don't actually know what's going to happen, and you are probably assessing your own capability and strength as lower than it really is, because we do that when we're exhausted to convince ourselves to rest.

There are many other things that could happen. The most likely scenario will be that the bear gets tired of standing there and goes looking for food somewhere else before you fall out of the tree or freeze. You could stay there till the sun comes up, or you could climb down when the bear wanders away and get out of there. You'll be scared, sure, of course. But keep paying attention to the trees around you in case you have to climb one again quickly. If you have to stay in a tree till the sun comes up, then so be it, in the morning there might be another human who hears you and helps you get away. You are probably much stronger than you think, and there are many scenarios for the future that you didn't think of. That doesn't mean there's no threat, it does mean that there are things we didn't think of, people we haven't met yet, and events we can't foresee that could change the situation. When we get stuck in place, we lose hope, so we stay there and assume there's not going to be a way out, but there will be, and there is.