Reactions and over-reactions - the 'F" patterns

An F reaction is whatever you do or say or think or feel automatically (instantly) after you have been triggered that is hot wired back to one of your negative core beliefs. Reaction patterns are regularly repeated highly energised responses that you use, without being fully aware of what is going on inside you. In some way these reactions help you deal with emotional pain after you have been triggered but only temporarily. Often the outcome is far worse than the original issue.

Core Beliefs and 'F' reactions thrive on Un-awareness
Why go to the trouble of getting to know and name your own reaction patterns? Because once you are aware of them, this will give you by far the easiest way to see, hear and be consciously aware that you have been hot wired to your negative core beliefs. Then and only then you can start to do something about the real cause. The cause by the way is not someone else or what he or she said or did to you.

Noticing and naming your triggers and then your repetitive reaction patterns are two of the best clues that in turn help you discover your own negative core beliefs. See Worksheets 4b to 4e in the Core Belief Workbook.

Most people have a variety of patterns, depending on the situation, the people involved and the particular core belief that has been triggered.

Examples: I got angry and yelled at .. I went very quiet and didn’t say a word. I started to cry. I said things to ...that I knew would make them go away. I panicked. I told ... what I thought she/he wanted to hear. I went very calm and logical and tried to explain. I tried to control him/her. I criticised (or attacked) .. about his/her faults. I smiled and made a joke about it. I felt cold and started to shake. I wanted to run away and hide. I hit him; I got drunk. I lied. I tried to think positive thoughts. I tried to do exactly what he wanted. I ‘got even’. I sabotaged everything.

Look for patterns that you can see yourself repeating and wish you didn't repeat.

Each time you see a regular pattern in yourself (or others) and particularly if that repetitive pattern produces self-defeating negative results, recognise this as a sign that, at that moment, you or that other person has been "hot wired" to one of their polarised or unbalanced negative core beliefs. The negative energy connected to this belief has taken over and is running things its own way. It's automatic, like a sprinkler system.

Most reactions are highly energised and usually negative. However, an unusually quiet reaction because the person is frozen, stifled, completely blocked or locked up is still highly energised. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep everything in this frozen state. If you listen in the background you can feel or hear a big mixer preparing batches of rapid setting emotional concrete to keep all those real feelings hidden.

Once you can see this clearly, it’s obviously much easier to chose alternate reactions that work better for you and people around you, a major step forward in improving your relationships.

There are of course hundreds of patterns, but to make it easier to identify a pattern quickly, they can be summed up under a few headings such as the ‘F’ reaction patterns.

Most people have one or two but some have up to six patterns that keep recurring.

Your core pain

Your core pain is that deep and painful wounding you feel just after you are triggered. Re-connecting your core belief reminds you of the hurt, the fear, the shame and the loneliness you experienced in your childhood.

Your automatic protection system goes to work

Your reaction patterns (your automatic responses) are the ways, until now, that your protector characters have acted to reduce this pain or if possible, stop you feeling it altogether.

Each character is a pain reducing specialist and, like most specialists, acts very quickly and almost always uses the same response.

They are like an automatic sprinkler system in the way they don’t stop to consider the after-effects of what they have you do or say. Once you are triggered, they just react! Afterwards you may look back and ask yourself why you responded that way, but by then it is usually too late.

Typical 'F' reactions are characterised by:

1. Amplification. The energy released when the belief is triggered is far more than you would expect or that could be seen as a reasonable level for that situation.

2. Separation from reality, there is a noticeable lack of valid or supporting evidence that would justify the reaction. Core Beliefs and 'F' reactions thrive on unawareness. Growing your self awareness reduces the problem.

Becoming aware that you are getting into a reaction pattern gives you a chance to hand over the issue to your aware grown-up characters. you can quickly learn to do this fast enough (with a little practice) to avoid the negative effects the old reaction pattern if it had been allowed to run unchecked as it had in the past. People around you will appreciate this change just as much as you.

Your reaction patterns also help hide your pain

At the same time as all this is going on, the protector characters handling the reaction also try to hide your pain from others in the belief that the other person caused your pain or that the other person has the power to make the pain better or worse. (This is not true.)

But while your protector characters and their reaction patterns hide your pain this means they stop you gaining support from other people. The defences that hide your real and authentic personality keep you apart from people and prevent you from experiencing the closeness and understanding you really would like from them.

An adult connection with another person helps you deal more effectively with core pain in the short term by yourself as well as assisting in easing that pain permanently. It can also bring about a closer understanding with others.

Knowing and naming your reaction patterns

Before you can start to balance or moderate your protector reaction patterns you need to be familiar with them.

A repeated pattern usually means that the same inner character is being kept busy protecting you from the same core pain that is connected to your same old negative core belief.

This was the belief which helped in the past to set up your automatic everyday ways of dealing with life’s problems. So you can learn a great deal about your core beliefs just by observing these repetitive patterns, even before you know exactly what the beliefs are.

Knowing and naming your own individual reaction patterns (Activity sheets 4a and 4b) helps you discover the unique core beliefs behind each of these patterns.

The examples below will help you to identify your reactions and responses. which in turn help you identify your negative core beliefs. On a separate page I have sent out a much more detailed (probably a bit too detailed) discussion on the many variations that you can observe for each one of these F reaction headings.

FIGHT or FORCE - Using negative 'superior parent' energy (anger, criticism, judgement, argument etc) to dominate the situation, and at the same time, reduce or hide pain and vulnerability - This kind of reaction suggests that the person is more powerful than, stronger than, greater than, better than, more justified than, more right in relation to another person. Even though in many cases this is only a bluff. it still counts as an F reaction.
Sub group
Freedom Fighter; Ferocity; Furious

FLEE TO GET FREE - Escaping or running away - Fearful. While indicating quite clearly that you feel less powerful in relation to the other person, this reaction pattern at least means that you are doing something active such as escaping, as a way of reducing vulnerability rather than surrendering or complying.

FOLD ‘n STAY- Compliant surrender often with conditions attached, to avoid loneliness or abandonment. If you fear being alone so you don’t want to ‘flee to be free, and you don't feel like fighting the third solution is to fold, to surrender so you can stay in that relationship. This reaction pattern points to core beliefs that tell you that you are powerless, helpless or unable to cope, weaker than, lower than, less than, not as good as, in relation to the other person.

FROZEN - Can’t move fear, panic. , helpless or hopeless - Responses like shutting down completely through fear, frozen by panic, totally blocked or locked up. Also giving up believing that it is impossible to do anything. Examples: I can’t win! Helpless, hopeless, powerless, no motivation, no drive to fix anything. Can’t decide, no confidence. ‘It’ll never work out ..’.
Sub group

FINE - All fixed - super confident - hiding real vulnerability - Patterns that mask or hide vulnerability by expressing an artificial attitude of superior skills, knowledge or understanding, or all three. For example an over confident "I can do it by myself", or "No problem, it’s all fixed." or the classic "I am just FINE!" Don’t know meaning of word ‘can’t’.
Sub group

FOOL ‘EM & FRUSTRATE ‘EM - Blocking or preventing others from having control. Typically this pattern includes things like blocking or frustrating controllers by refusing to recognise or accept their ability to control or deliberately disobeying and breaking rules. When it comes to preventing someone else from being in control, this pattern is extremely powerful and can block almost any of the controller patterns. Rebel, mutineer - refusing to obey the referee or the rules. Out of control, on strike, using questionable strategies or arguments to block and frustrate control by others.

More extreme examples include deliberately breaking rules but with little or no concern for safety or responsibility for outcome. This can extend as far as physical sabotage.

Sub-group Faking it, False data, Fake data, foul playing - manipulation, based on false data, lies, tricks to regain control or relieve vulnerability. Seduction (physical or psychological). Also Fiddling the failure; Fixed failure, Fixing the score; Faking failure; Taking a False fall, foul failing,

FORGET IT! - Avoiding awareness, using substances, activities or fantasy to deny reality. - Responses or reactions to triggering that help to avoid facing, or medicate the pain, such as ‘being busy’ or using chemicals or substances. Using substances (alcohol, nicotine, drugs) or activities (eating, anorexia, sex, gambling, fantasy) to avoid reality or reduce triggered pain.
Avoiding discussion, action or facing up to uncomfortable issues, by ‘forgetting’, by totally ignoring them, ‘stiff upper lip’ or ‘thinking only positive thoughts’
Subgroup. Failing first, Failure in advance ; Fail ahead of time; You can’t make me fail, I failed myself first. Falling or failing first (before I get pushed)
ing (following a fable to help avoid reality or to help forget).

FAIR EXCHANGE - Using positive coping skills - A positive coping skill is just a reaction pattern that has positive outcomes for both people, because it appears to set up a ‘win-win’ situation. Positive Coping Skills responses offer learned communication skills such as compromise, bargaining, negotiation, assertion, levelling or open adult communication. Yes, they can increase the chance of getting ‘win-win’ outcomes. But learned responses are not spontaneous.
Somehow in these cases the process lacks authenticity. It seems artificial. Even if the other person goes away feeling happy we don't feel satisfied because the negative core belief hasn't grown any more positive inside us. Often the other person responds with a comment "Don't try that F&#@*** win-win stuff you learned at the last leadership/ management/ communication course on me!!!"

Other highly energised reactions

Over-dramatic ‘victim’ - exaggerating role as the ‘poor victim’ (false) while actually working on other person’s guilt, fear or shame, to help blame, blackmail, manipulate and control. This is the intense energy state described as the victim-controller character. The victim-controller character uses his or her ‘victim’ position to manipulate or pressure the other person. Distorted perceptions of alleged ‘mistreatment’ help justify reactions such as ‘righteous indignation’ to heap more blame or shame on others and so get what is wanted from them or gain extra power. Typical words used include ‘disgraceful’ or ‘disgusted’.

Fiend making refers to a particular over-dramatic victim pattern. It begins with the "victim" building up an untrue or largely exaggerated image of another person as a thoroughly bad, cruel or awful perpetrator. This is accompanied by a lengthy list of accusations but still with no supporting evidence. The "victim" then publicises the accusations, often gaining sympathy and support. This may be followed by the laying of formal charges accusing the "fiend" on grounds such as harassment, abuse or unethical behaviour, still without any supporting evidence. NOTE: If there is genuine evidence then the above does not apply - what is referred to here is a highly energised "F" reaction pattern that like most of the other patterns and core belief work generally, is marked by a distinct break from reality.
Sub group
Firing from the hip -

Other reactions

Continual engine revving
Dynamiting the bridge
- Pulling the pin

Finalise it first then fling it away

Feeling Frustrated

Feedback - please e-mail me John Bligh Nutting - at

Copyright © John Nutting 1996 - - 2012 and © GROWING AWARENESS 1996 - - 2012 All rights reserved World Wide

LAST UPDATE Friday, 28 September 2012 09:57

Don't worry about these copyright notices at the foot of each page. It just means I want to hang on to legal ownership of what I write for use in future books. Until that day, please feel free to copy and even adapt them for your own use and for friends as long as you acknowledge me as the author and owner of the copyright and you don't charge anyone for them. If you want to use them professionally or commercially (charge a fee for them) or for clients, each sheet you hand out must include full acknowledgment of copyright ownership as above and if you are benefiting as a result, I would appreciate an appropriate sharing.


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What is a negative Core belief?

Why it is not easy to recognise your Core beliefs

Examples of negative core beliefs - is yours on this list

Typical over-reactions - the 'F' patterns

Fable - The case of the stolen self-esteem

Where did they come from?

The self-fulfilling prophecy trap

Why you react when a core belief is triggered
More about core beliefs - Resonance

Why you cannot remove or change or alter or engineer a core belief

Five Gifts from Your Old negative core belief

Core belief Counselling in Queensland