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4Fs of the Fear & Trauma Response - Fawning

Posted by Christie Donn on

fight flee freeze fawn trauma

Most of us are already familiar with the concept of the "fight or flight" response to perceived danger

However, there are two other responses to threat which are less well known. These are the Freeze response and the Fawn response.

Here's a quick break down -

  •  Fight - We could fight the tiger and hope to kill it before it kills us.
  •  Flee - We could run away from the tiger and hope we're fast enough.
  •  Freeze - We could freeze up and look for the nearest place to hide.
  •  Fawn - We could try to become friends with the tiger and convince him not to eat us.

As time has gone on, the threats we face regularly have changed.
We're unlikely to come face to face with a tiger that wants to eat us while we're at Parent Teacher Conferences. But our brains' instincts still react to threats in the same ways, even when the "threat" is just our someone asking us to do something we don't really want or have time to do.

We want to be polite. So we can't fight, we can't flee, we can't freeze and hide. The option left for our brains is to choose Fawn and say "yes" to whatever is being asked of us.
*Even when we know that it is a huge inconvenience to ourselves and our families.*

Women, especially mothers, are particularly prone to saying "Yes," when we really mean "No." We are most likely to acquiesce to someone we look up to or admire, feel an obligation to, or otherwise want to like us.

We de-prioritize ourselves in order to say yes because we don't want anyone to feel like we don't like them.

But we don't have to. In fact, we shouldn't simply say "yes" simply to avoid saying "no."

Today in The Purple Fairy Garden - Boutique Community I talked about the value of learning how to say "Let me check my schedule, and get back to you."

This can help you deescalate the situation, reduce your stress, step out of the moment, and truly evaluate your choice before you commit. Maybe you can't do it today, but you could fit in in next week when your schedule is less full? Or maybe not at all!

Fawning is your brain's response to comply with the threat to save yourself. Sometimes the act of saying "No" feels too dangerous and confrontational, so we submit instead.

Saying "Let me check my calendar and get back to you," can be a great tool to help you prevent over-scheduling yourself, which is particularly helpful during the busy holiday season!

What's something that you've agreed to do that you later wished you had said "no" to?


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