Did you know that people pleasing is a trauma response?
Yes. All the ways that you bend over backwards for others, deplete and neglect yourself to make them happy, and struggle to say no, are actually traits that are associated with trauma and are often linked to something from your past.
When you hear about responses to trauma, it’s usually fight, flight or freeze that are talked about.
But did you know there’s a fourth response? It’s called fawn.
Let’s break them all down. Fight is when you become aggressive. Flight is when you run or flee from the situation. Freeze is when you’re unable to move or make a decision in the moment.
Fawn is when you try to please the other person in order to avoid conflict.
Are you uncomfortable with the thought of a fight taking place? Or worried about making someone mad and feel as though you have to walk on eggshells?
There’s a possibility that you fawn; flatter the person and do everything in your power to make them comfortable, even if it’s at a detriment to yourself.
This can involve ignoring your own needs, agreeing with everything that someone says or saying what someone wants to hear.
It’s a pattern that can carry on with you in life, unless and until you seek help for it.
If before you make a move, you think about what someone else would think about your decision, you’re worried that you’ll make someone mad or that they’ll stop talking to you because you decided to make a decision without their input, it’s very likely that you’re a people pleaser and you fawn to make others comfortable.
Want to know how I know? As someone who was diagnosed with PTSD, I’ve jumped deep into the exploration of what it means to react to trauma and found out that I was guilty of fawning in response to it.
Let me share a life changing and heartbreaking moment I had that showed me that I was a fawner, who needed to start cutting toxic people out of my life.
When I went on a trip to Thailand with a “friend” in grad school, she was demanding and bulldozed me on our trip. She told me that I had an ugly smile and turned me into her photographer.
And guess what I did? I did everything she wanted! I bent over backwards for her.
She wanted to wake up early to take pictures for Instagram and act like she meditated when the sun rose. When in fact, it was all just to snap the shot. Then she critiqued every single one of the photos I took of her. I took everything with a smile because I was in Thailand and wanted to enjoy the country.
And then guess what happened? When I had to borrow her laptop to submit my final paper for school, she decided to message her friend and say that I was “trying too hard”, copying her and started to insinuate that I didn’t have my own thoughts.
I was CRUSHED. I confronted her and was given a half-assed apology. I spent the rest of my time in Thailand miserable, crying when I was alone and ready to get out of her presence. It’s safe to say we aren’t in contact anymore because I completely cut her off after I learned who she really was. A bully.
But that bully taught me sooooo much about myself and the bullshit that I was often putting up with in order keep the peace with others. When I realized that it was time to remove her from my life, I felt bad about it.
“What if she gets mad at me?” “What if she gets upset?” “What if I can’t be friends with other people who associate with her?”
Well my love, frankly, I don’t give a damn!
Sometimes you need to cut people out of your life for your own sanity. Someone who tells you are ugly in ANY capacity isn’t worth your time or energy. Someone who only cares about likes on the “Gram” has motives other than enjoying the space they’re in.
It wasn’t easy to remove myself from someone I saw almost everyday for two years, but it was freeing to be able to only associate with people who see me for who I really am.
If someone tries to bring you down to make themselves feel better, they aren’t your friend. They aren’t worth your energy.
And if you’re a fawner, you likely to make excuses for why they said and did the things they did.
And that’s when you need to have a third party perspective. Whether that’s a coach, therapy or connecting with someone you trust who really knows you as a person.
Bullies will try to gaslight you and attempt to tell you who they think you are. But my love, only you know you.
And if you have a tendency to put the blame on yourself, it’s time to move past the toxic people and places in your life.
That’s how I got involved with energy work, reiki and breath work. To tap into what I want, before thinking about someone else.
If you resonate with being a people pleaser, a fawner, or someone who generally keeps the peace and you feel like you’ve neglected your own needs in the process, it’s time to focus on you!
I’m so excited to share my new offering that will do just that for you too. In a one hour Reiki Recover Session, that includes 20 minutes of Reiki healing, a 20 minute mini tarot session and 20 minutes of grounding meditation, you will walk away feeling relaxed, at peace and connected to yourself. You’ll also sleep better!
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Do you relate to being a people pleaser? How are you prioritizing yourself?