TRAUMA RESPONSES: ON F.A.W.N.I.N.G Day 2. Pt 2.
It's Day 3 of the #16daysofactivism2021 and Day 2 for us @isurvivetrauma.
We're still focusing on trauma responses, specifically fawning. I must confess, I've been having a thrilling time discovering the different layers of people-pleasing.
The United Nations report that 730 million women around the world have suffered intimate partner violence, non-partner sexual violence, or both, at least once in their lives. It doesn't stop there as nearly 1 in 10 women aged 15 and over are living in extreme poverty. In every sphere of society, women are grossly underrepresented and 2.5 billion of them are affected by discriminatory laws. Why am I stating all these? It's quite simple. I'm trying to show you the link between trauma and people-pleasing. Women are faced with circumstances that bring about trauma, shaping them negatively and preventing them from living their lives to the fullest. It's no wonder most women are people-pleasers. From a young age, we're taught to shrink ourselves and we do this until we disappear. We don't often hear it from physical voices but in traumatic events that happen to us. We have to adapt and blend in to feel safe. We have to predict and preempt patterns in society that can harm us. When I had a scary encounter with a security personnel earlier this month, my only option was to fawn my way out of it. He grabbed my hand out of nowhere and insisted I give him my number which I did. The reason was, I assessed the situation and I knew it could get ugly fast. Rather than say no, I obliged him thinking only of my survival at the moment.
Let me make this clear, violence against women exposes them to unnecessary trauma which leaves them with an unfair disadvantage and makes life difficult. In line with the theme, we need to end violence against women right now. Not in the nearest future or when we're finally on the same page but now. It's taking so much from women and girls.
We have unequal access to economic resources and we're victims to biased traditions and norms. Yet, even when we get to occupy leadership positions, we have to do it in a certain likable way. In a way that makes everyone comfortable and we all know it's impossible. Violence against women is costing the future of women and girls. I know firsthand how trauma turned me around and how I'm constantly fighting to make sure it doesn't define me. The truth is, we can't keep on relying on the resilience of humans as an excuse to not fix things that can be fixed. Yes, people can rise above difficulties and make something good of life despite the challenges but we should stop putting them in positions where they need to be strong in the first place. Whatever strength you see from a traumatized person comes along with several unhealthy coping mechanisms. Trauma keeps taking from you. Even when the danger is gone and you're safe, it'll take a while for your body to receive the message. As you start your journey towards healing, you'll realize how unnecessary it was for you to have suffered that violence. How Jesus is there to help you make the most of a terrible situation He didn't plan for you so that trauma doesn't become your identity.
I see your struggles. Jesus sees your struggles too. The good news is, if you're a chronic fawner, there's hope for you. I've taken the time to outline a few tips below to help you overcome fawning. The tips aren't gender-specific but I'm writing this with women at heart.
Try the following:
1. Accept you're a people pleaser.
I struggled with this because of the negative connotation attached to it. When we hear people-pleaser, we think of someone who manipulates their way out of situations by acting like a chameleon. However, with fawning, it isn't about manipulation. The desire to please everyone stems from fear and lack of safety. At that moment, we're convinced that the only way to feel safe and not be harmed is by pleasing everyone. Admit you need help in this area and set yourself free.
2. Remind yourself your needs are just as important as others.
I know your abuser was a top priority, at least mine was. His needs were always above mine but I remind myself, it's okay for my own needs to be met. It's okay for me to receive love in the way I desire. It's okay for me to want some private time away from my partner and friends to hear my thoughts. It's okay for me to take long walks as much as I need. My needs matter!
3. Remind yourself your needs don't have to align with the needs of others.
It's fine for you to desire different things. Sometimes, I share similar interests with my loved ones, and other times, I don't. There's nothing wrong with it. We're separate individuals and our relationships alone don't define us. I use to think I had to be knowledgeable in tech-related subjects to form a bond with my partner but I was wrong. I know the little I can to survive in a technology-driven world and we still share a strong bond. The only people who insist on sharing an exact interest with you, and disregard your needs are people you should run from.
4. Be patient with yourself.
I say this a lot mainly for me. If recovering from trauma has taught me anything, it's that healing is simply experimenting. I can name several things that have worked for me and haven't worked for others. You have to keep trying until you get your desired results. If you fail at establishing a boundary today, don't sulk. Stand up and try again. Try a different way of verbalizing your needs. Experiment with different helpful tips and tailor them to your challenges. Observe and see how it works, then make changes where necessary. You will fail several times at not pleasing everyone but you'll get better at it.
5. Verbalize your needs.
Never give room for assumptions. If you want something, ask for it. If someone violates a boundary, speak up even if you have to rehearse the words a thousand times in your head. Just do it!.
6. Tell Big Daddy about it in prayers .
God is interested in your trauma as much as He's interested in other parts of your life. I was overwhelmed a few days ago and I went to church on a nonservice day, knelt in front of the altar, and asked Jesus to take the burden from me. I have no reason to fear my weakness and inadequacy because that's exactly when God shows His power. Talk to God all about it and wait for His response because it'll come.
In the next few days, I dare you to join the voices of women all over the world in challenging violence against women. You can pay attention to the impact of trauma around you and educate yourself. You can also share your experience at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you".
Philippians 4:9 NLT