People Pleasing and Fawning

In a world that often emphasises the importance of being considerate and avoiding conflict, the tendency to please others can become ingrained in our behaviour. This people-pleasing inclination, while driven by good intentions, can sometimes take a toll on our mental and emotional well-being.

One aspect of this behaviour is the fawning response, which involves going to great lengths to make others comfortable at the expense of one’s own needs and boundaries.

Understanding the Fawning Response

The fawning response, often associated with complex trauma and post-traumatic stress, involves a strong desire to keep others happy and prevent any form of conflict or disagreement. Individuals who exhibit fawning behaviour tend to prioritise the needs and emotions of others over their own, often at the expense of their well-being. This can manifest in various ways, such as agreeing to things they don’t want to do, suppressing their own opinions, and overextending themselves to accommodate others.

The Negative Impact of Fawning

While the intention behind fawning behaviour is often rooted in the desire to maintain relationships and avoid confrontation, it can have several negative consequences:

Neglecting Self-Care: People who constantly prioritise others may neglect their own self-care and well-being. Their focus on external validation can lead to burnout, stress, and a sense of emptiness.

Diminished Self-Worth: Constantly putting others’ needs before their own can lead to a diminished sense of self-worth. Fawning individuals may start to believe that their needs and opinions are not as important as others’.

Boundaries Erosion: Fawning behaviour often involves disregarding personal boundaries to accommodate others. This can lead to blurred boundaries and difficulty asserting oneself in various situations.

Resentment and Discontent: Suppressing one’s authentic feelings and opinions to avoid conflict can lead to suppressed resentment and inner turmoil. Over time, these feelings may manifest as passive-aggressive behaviour or even explosive outbursts.

Reduced Authenticity: Fawning can lead to a lack of authenticity, as individuals may find themselves constantly adapting to the preferences of others. This can result in a loss of personal identity and a sense of disconnection from one’s true self.

Breaking the Cycle of People-Pleasing/Fawning

Recognising and addressing fawning behaviour is a significant step toward reclaiming personal agency and well-being:

Self-Awareness: Developing self-awareness is crucial. Reflect on situations where you feel compelled to please others at your expense. Recognise the triggers and patterns that prompt fawning behaviour.

Setting Boundaries: Learning to set healthy boundaries is essential. Understand that it’s okay to prioritise your needs and assert your boundaries even if it may lead to temporary discomfort.

Authentic Communication: Practice open and honest communication. Express your thoughts, feelings, and preferences respectfully while considering the impact on both you and others.

Prioritising Self-Care: Make self-care a priority. Engage in activities that nurture your well-being and help you reconnect with your authentic self.

Seeking Support: If you find it challenging to break the cycle of fawning on your own, seeking support from a psychologist can be immensely helpful. Therapy can provide tools to address underlying beliefs and behaviours.

Remember that nurturing healthy relationships involves a balance between considering others’ needs and valuing our own. By breaking the cycle of fawning, we pave the way for more genuine connections and a greater sense of self-worth.

At Haven we foster a space for open and honest expression that promotes inclusion, compassion and connection. Contact us today to book a session.

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