People pleasing is a fear based response. There are 4 main ways that all mammals respond to threat –
Fight, Flight, Freeze & Fawn
People pleasing comes under fawn.
“Basically, people pleasing is the fear of other people’s responses”
This originates from threats to the attachment relationship with our caregivers when we were young.
Let me explain.
You’ve probably heard of the fight and flight stress response of our nervous systems.
But for many of us, these responses were not an option. Instead, submitting (fawning) or freezing were the only options available to navigate childhood with a relative degree of safety.
Afterall, when we are a little person, we are completely dependent on our caregivers. Running away or fighting are not options that are available to us when our environment is unhealthy, dangerous or unsafe (physically, emotionally and psychologically).
Or maybe pleasing Mum or Dad was the only way to have some form of relationship with them (which is essential to our survival). This could be because they were busy, unwell or had perfectionist standards. So we learn to become helpful and self-sufficient to stay attached.
We learn to please and submit in order to stay as safe and connected as possible.
The problem is, this becomes an unconscious, automatic way of relating to others. And it usually never gets revised when we become adults. This limits us as adults, big time!
What was once a super smart survival strategy is now a noose around our necks. It stops us expressing our full potential and enjoying deep satisfaction in life.
Instead, anxiety, depression, fatigue, frustration and often illness, are common companions.
I know because I’ve been there.
When I started my personal development journey, I didn’t understand any of this.
I was clueless that I couldn’t just read a few books and then use willpower and affirmations to be more assertive, say no and fearlessly advocate for myself and my needs. I didn’t even know this was the problem.
In the end I burnt out and went through severe anxiety, depression and chronic fatigue before I learnt what it really took to be able to stop people pleasing and start truly setting boundaries and taking care of my needs.
After much study, including post-graduate studies in psychology, counselling, trauma and becoming a Somatic Experiencing Practitioner; working with hundreds of clients; personal therapy and spiritual seeking; I figured a few things out.
Underlying a people pleasing pattern is residual biological fear.
This fear remains undischarged in the mind-body system long after the original threat is gone, wreaking havoc on our thoughts, emotions and all bodily systems.
To be free we need to discharge this (often now unconscious) fear on the level of the nervous system.
We also need to repair the damage done to our attachment system so that we can feel safe to be authentic in relationships.
I have developed a methodology I teach to my clients and successfully use myself to transform a submit defensive response into assertive and authentic self-expression.
So if you find yourself over-committed, over-responsible and OVER pleasing others, and you want to feel safe to be YOURSELF, put an end to self-sabotage and finally realise the success and love you fully deserve, then download my Free Guide. This guide goes into greater detail on the Fawn Response and the methodology I use to successfully work through it.