You’re likely familiar with the term, “fight, flight, or freeze.” It’s what happens to all sentient beings when we experience fear for our survival. The sympathetic side of our autonomic nervous system turns on, and a whole network of physiological reactions engage to help us survive a potentially deadly situation.
Even though we usually talk about “fight, flight, or freeze” in that order, I’ve noticed that in nature, most animals work their way through those survival reactions in the opposite order. For example, let’s say you’re hiking in the woods, and you come across a deer. If you happen to notice the deer before it sees you (unlikely, but it could happen), once the deer does see you, it will first freeze in place to hopefully “disappear” from your awareness. It perceives you as a threat. Then, if you don’t go away and the deer still feels threatened, it will run away at lightning speed. If for some reason the deer can’t run away, or perhaps you’re physically too close for comfort, the deer will fight with hooves and antlers to defend itself. (Also unlikely, but it could happen! Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=332NKyfklY0)