Skip to content

Fight, Flight, Freeze, or Fawn

Aging is an interesting process. Some people seem to get stuck. I’ve been trying to get unstuck. Four or five years ago I found a therapist. I experienced a lifetime of serious trauma that I hadn’t processed but never realized to what extent it impacted my life. I’m sure my therapist was very aware right away and she’s been helping me slowly uncover more and more of it in manageable portions. But she’s had a strange summer and hasn’t been around much. I’m taking things into my own hands a bit more. I know a lot of what I need to do but I have trouble getting out of my own way. I’m not big on a lot of woo-woo business. Evidence-based approaches resonate with me (which is one reason I really gel with my therapist). But there’s something to be said for ideas like vision boarding (I blame/thank Ron Funches for that). And that’s how I found Christie Inge and her site. I knew I was on to something when everything I read on her site caused me to burst into tears. Why yes, I would like to work on “transforming unprocessed feelings, limiting beliefs, bad habits, and self-sabotaging patterns.”

Coincidentally, a close friend gave me the heads up about “fawning” and we both had the same reaction to it (IT ME). 7 Subtle Signs Your Trauma Response is to ‘Fawn’ and, from the same author, People-pleasing can be a result of trauma. It’s called ‘fawning’ — here’s how to recognize it. TOO REAL.

To avoid conflict, negative emotions, and re-traumatization, people who “fawn” when triggered will go out of their way to mirror someone’s opinions and appease them in order to deescalate situations or potential issues. For me, this meant that the more invested I was in an emotional connection, the less likely I was to criticize that person, vocalize when my boundaries were crossed, express unhappiness with their behavior, or share anything that I felt might damage that relationship. This could come across as being excessively nice and complimentary, overly-concerned with another person’s happiness

Again, that is so close to my own experience it feels like I could have written that myself. But knowledge really is power here. Understanding how and why we respond the way we do can help us break bad habits. That is a work in progress for me. I’ve gained a lot of insight so at least I can recognize when I’m falling into unproductive patterns. Now I just need to be kinder to myself when I do backslide. And to realize that some of my coping skills have been beneficial. Sometimes I beat myself up about splurging on travel but I know it’s critical to my well-being. And reading this helped reinforce that: How to Plan Your Most Joyful Trip, According to a Happiness Expert

Why is unscheduled free time so important to our well-being?
There are studies showing that people who have unscheduled time, and who commit to unscheduled time, tend to be happier overall than people who don’t. Overly scheduled time can make us feel anxious. Unscheduled time allows us to have more of a journey.

And I will close with Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies (subtitled Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas). It was a card-based method for promoting creativity. I don’t have the cards (if only) but there is a web-based randomizer version. My last pick yielded “turn it upside down.” That’s a pretty good one!

Goldenrod Soldier Beetles

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *