Why People Pleasing Could Be A Trauma Response

You've probably heard of the fight or flight response to trauma but have you heard about the fawn response?


Do any of these sound familiar?


Fear of saying what you really fear

Over apologizing

Denying your own needs to meet others'

Walking on eggshells

Over explaining

Take on more if asked, even when overwhelmed

Hard time saying "no"

At the sign of conflict your attempt to appease

Forfeiting your desires

You look to others for how you need to feel in the relationship

Assuming responsibility for other's emotions

Changing preferences to align with others

Trouble setting and keeping boundaries


The fawn response is when you (often unconsciously) attempt to please, pacify and appease the threat in order to keep yourself safe. This response could have come from many different things such as growing up in a high conflict, neglectful or abusive home or from having an adult high conflict or abusive relationship.


“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, therapist who coined the term


Begin to take notice when you have an urge to people-please and sit with that for a moment.

Ask yourself if you are about to say or do it to please someone else at the expense of yourself.

Will your actions align with your values?

Will you be connecting with your authenticity?

What would happen if you chose not to people-please? What is your fear?

What would it be like to chose yourself?

What would it be like to rediscover your dreams, needs, wants and pursue them?


Have compassion on this part of you that has wanted to keep you safe. It has been working very hard to care for you. As you become aware of these areas within yourself you can begin to learn more and grow in greater health. That protective fawn part will begin to trust that you will keep yourself safe.


If you need help working through this process please reach out to a therapist! Or call contact me!











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