Fawning and The Darker Side of People Pleasing – Part 2

In an ideal world, an effective relationship with your client requires that the conditions of employment are reciprocal, truthful, and respectful but if you are subconsciously suppressing a belief that you weren’t loved and accepted as a child you may default to behaviour that overcompensates in order to meet the needs of your client. 

Have you considered that you may have unknowingly found yourself in the service industry to prove you are valuable and worthy? 

Previously we touched on the defence mechanism called fawning, and in this blog, we take a deeper dive into the intricacies that make this response so prolific and enmeshed in our genetic makeup.

It started when we were children and back then, it served a biological purpose because when faced with a threat, we couldn’t really fight, we couldn’t take flight and freezing didn’t help either. So we quickly realized that by ‘keeping the peace’, we kept safe!

So let’s consider what the possible threats might be…

Maybe, the perceived threat as a child is the fear of ISOLATION from family, and from the community. As an adult, it could be that the legitimate threat is dealing with someone you have a history with, while an actual threat in the case of a carer, for example, could be interacting with someone who hasn’t necessarily been abusive but has the capacity to activate your triggers.

As a carer, fawning comes naturally as our work revolves around helping someone else and because of that, we tend to move through life having internalized the idea that we don’t matter at all! But if we can approach each experience with curiosity, validating how we feel and quietening that inner critic then we are in some part fulfilling our evolutionary responsibility, and allowing history to move forward.

Awareness is key to advocating and legitimizing your experiences while simultaneously creating a space to feel safe in order to retrieve your sense of value. Listening to the whispers of your soul, that true voice within can generate more reliable, trustworthy relationships as connections are not based on approval but rather sincere, authentic conversations

With that in mind, how do you actually protect your autonomy as a carer? Are your boundaries porous? Can you actually name what you CANNOT do for your clients? Can you discern between a request and an expectation? Are you mindful of clients who frame their needs as expectations and stifle your ability to comfortably make a choice?

There is absolute power in words and understanding the subtle differences in communication is helpful to decide when you can or cannot honour what is being asked of you. 

Uncomfortable conversations and awkward moments are a small price to pay for regaining our authentic voice. With new clients, it is vital to assert ourselves and own how we feel especially if we can notice that they are starting to benefit from our passivity and eagerness to please.

However, we do need to concede that there is a fine line between owning our sh** and drifting towards the darker side of people pleasing – insidious because it is CONSCIOUS, and born out of an attempt to manipulate or control a situation. However, pretending to be someone that we are not, and hiding how we really think and feel about someone is not sustainable and often this insincere behaviour is quickly exposed.

So, as we reorientate and begin to untangle our very first ‘security blankets’ it is those ‘accountability buddies’ who offer unconditional love to help us establish self-respect and healthy boundaries. It is in these reliable support groups that we can show up as our authentic selves, be greeted with a sense of worth and start to dismantle the cycle of our codependent tendencies by acknowledging that

we do have a choice

It is so important to allow ourselves the opportunity to heal and embrace the transformation that is undeniable when we integrate our inner child, giving her permission to lower her shield, drop her sword, dismantle her armour and shift into a new story of self-empowerment.



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