Most people have heard of fight, flight and freeze but did you know there is another trauma response called fawn?
In short fawning is using people pleasing to diffuse conflict, to feel more secure in relationships, mirroring others opinions, ignoring personal boundaries & absorbing others wants as your own to earn their approval.
When we fawn we subconsciously mirror what we think others wantfrom us which leads to the complete abandonment of self.
It can be very hard to break this pattern as these responses are deeply wired in the psyche because it was once a coping mechanism that was *needed* in order to survive and feel safe.. so trying to tell the brain to do it differently can be really hard. As with any any trauma, it is not linear and takes time, patience and commitment to create substantial shifts.
If you struggle with codependency it is likely that you also experience the freeze or fawn response.
This term came into my awareness a few months ago and has continued to unravel itself more and more. It was first coined by Pete Walker when studying PTSD survivors..
“Fawn types seek safety by merging with the wishes, needs and demands of others. They act as if they unconsciously believe that the price of admission to any relationship is the forfeiture of all their needs, rights, preferences and boundaries.”Pete Walker, The 4Fs: A Trauma Typology in Complex Trauma
This coping mechanism starts during childhood. Most children either fight/rebel or fawn/please when growing up in an unhealthy environment.
I have been able to acutely see the reasons I had to fawn as a child. I am grateful to have a clearer understanding as to why I had to do this as it helps me make sense of it and also learn how to unravel this pattern.
Once I realized how strong of a people pleaser I was a year or so ago, I swung the pendulum to the other side where I became very assertive with my boundaries and even sharp at times. It was what I needed to do to not let the people pleaser come out.
People would even call me the boundary queen👑& share how impressed they were that I was so clear and knew what my edges were and could communicate them in the moment.
I knew this wasn’t “balanced” but it felt so much better to be able to use my voice and say no to things & have my own opinions, needs and desires instead of loosing myself completely.
Well, a couple of weeks ago my fawning came out so strong that I felt like the pendulum swung back times a million!
Recently I haven’t felt strong and in my center. I had been moving through a deep depression this winter and was stuck in a collapsed/freeze response.
It makes since that in this state I would regress back to old habits but I didn’t realize what the consequences would be and wow, they were detrimental.
The things that were happening when I was fawning were so subtle but when multiple small things keep happening over and over they build up. It was all taking place so fast, I was with people I thought I was safe with & it didn’t really ‘seem like a big deal’ so I kept surrendering and going with it. I ignored the red flags🚩
It’s interesting because there are certain people that trigger my fawner more than others. In no way am I saying it is their fault or that they did something wrong. It makes me curious and I find it fascinating as to why this response comes out with certain people and not others.
When the brain is wired to fawn it can be almost impossible to realize it is happening because it is such an inherent response.
That weekend I was able to realize it was happening but it was so hard to actually pause, come back into my center, make new choices & communicate what would’ve been best for me that it continued to play out. I kept seeing myself be able to do it in my mind but I was not able to translate it and follow through with it in real time.
This created me to abandon my truth over and over and over again.
Which lead me to waking up on my birthday in one of the deepest self hatred spirals I have *ever* experienced in my entire life.
How ironic that on the day I was born I was literally angry that I even existed. I felt so fucked up, so alone and didn’t understand why I was on this earth.
And it rippled into the most challenging & scariest week of my life.
This pattern took me into the depths of the consequences of what happens when I don’t listen, when I ignore my needs, when I don’t communicate and I abandon myself completely & it was so excruciatingly painful that I pray I have learned this lesson and hopefully I will not have to go through an experience quite like that ever again.
So once you know about fawning, what can you do to begin to heal?
✨Learn to communicate needs
✨Learn how to be okay with letting others down
✨Know everyone is not going to like you
✨Learn your values & who you really are
✨Have layers of support
✨Learn how to name & express your feelings
✨Learn to love yourself
✨Inner child healing
✨Conscious Celibacy & Womb Clearings
And for a deeper & more thorough explanation, check out this amazing article:https://letsqueerthingsup.com/2020/02/02/unlearning-fawn-response/
Healing trauma is not easy.
Re-wiring our brains takes commitment, effort and consistency
As well as compassion and gentleness for ourselves as we become more & more aware of these old ways that are not serving us anymore.
I pray that we are all able to continue to be gentle & loving to ourselves as we unravel these patterns and to do our best to embrace these fragile pieces with the utmost care knowing that they once helped keep us safe but are no longer needed anymore for who we are now.
Something I heard recently that really stuck with me was to listen to your inner child like you would be listening to a dear friend that is sharing something vulnerable & to give yourself that same depth of attention and presence to really hear what the wounded little one needs.
Wrapping my little one in so much love & reminding her that she is so loved, she is so held, she is so safe & that I got her & I am with her, listening to her and care to understand her in all new ways.
How can you connect with your little one today and listen to what s/he is needing in order to feel more safe, cared for and loved?
I am also excited to share that I will be offering another Womb Clearing Ceremony this New moon! This is one way to really clear out old energy and to bring more awareness to these patterns within. Send me a DM if you’re interested. The event link will be up soon xo