In my previous post, My Fawning Yes Brain, I realized that my brain is going through a trauma response called fawning. Fawning is the official term, but I am still calling it my “Yes Brain.”
After discussing this with my therapist, specifically around my upcoming trip, I would like to work on changing my “Yes Brain” to “No Brain.” I will be traveling with a large group (the last time I do that) and will be in another country, so the anxiety is HIGH. Therefore, anxiety triggers the “Yes Brain.”
I will be trying to make EVERYONE HAPPY EXCEPT MYSELF. And what ends up happening then? Me being miserable. Because when I (anyone one of us really) puts others’ needs ahead of our own, the only one who loses is me (or anyone who does this). With all of that anxiety and pressure, my brain instantly Yessing all over the place. I need to stop that.
What is fawning?
“In a nutshell, “fawning” is the use of people-pleasing to diffuse conflict, feel more secure in relationships, and earn the approval of others. It’s a maladaptive way of creating safety in our connections with others by essentially mirroring the imagined expectations and desires of other people. Oftentimes, it stems from traumatic experiences early on in life…” 2
I Am Not Responsible
The other day during therapy, I had a realization. If others are not having a good time, it is my fault. Therefore, I must take care of others to ensure that they are having a good time. If I am not taking care of other people’s needs, I feel guilty if I have a great time.
Huh, well, that was an interesting revelation. My therapist asked me what the lies were in that statement. And here is what I came up with:
- How others are feeling is not my responsibility
- I am not responsible for other’s emotions
- Other people’s emotional states have nothing to do with me (see #2)
I know exactly where all of this originated. I can hear my mother’s words in my brain as I write this. I was held responsible for her emotional state. If I was smiling and she wasn’t in a good mood, she would criticize me for smiling. So it was when I started to hide how I was feeling, especially if I was happy. If I was miserable, that was good for her. Misery loves company, after all.
“In the context of a possibly dysfunctional bond with a spouse or parent, an attempt to manage stress might, on a baseline level, result in adapting your personality to cater to your loved one, often at the expense of yourself.” 1
Yes, to No
Saying “No” is such a foreign concept to me. How do I do this? Mainly when Myggy (my name for my amygdala) hijacks my brain’s higher thinking part. What do I do? That was the question I asked my therapist.
Wait for It
My therapist has me practicing taking time before I respond. That’s it. Sounds so simple, right? It is not. At least it isn’t for me. I think it’s because anytime either of my parents focused on me, my brain shut down (disassociate for survival), and I would say “yes.” That carried me through some tough times, but I don’t need it now.
My therapist had me start with thirty seconds. After that, my brain was spiraling with all sorts of thoughts. That indicated that thirty seconds was too much. Give my brain an inch, and it will take a mile.
Then we tried fifteen seconds. My brain did not spiral into a million different thoughts. So we determined that fifteen seconds is my golden ticket to not yessing all the time. Then I practiced during the week. I was able to do this twice. TWO TIMES! OMG! I have to say it felting amazing.
My truth, two days ago, I successfully said “No” twice.
I came up with adding a bead bracelet. I have one that I can use to touch each bead and count to fifteen. Then my hubs suggested that I make one and use different textured beads. The texture keeps me grounded. My hubs! He gets me and helps me.
With the counting and textured beads and the questions outlined above to ask me, I can see some good changes down the road. There is a path to change my disassociating “Yes Brain” to a grounded “No Brain.”
My truth today is I will continue to use counting and textured beads to pause my brain and remain grounded BEFORE I respond to any query.
- Gina Ryder (January 9, 2020). “The Fawn Response: How Trauma Can Lead to People Pleasing.” psychcentral.com https://psychcentral.com/health/fawn-response#definition
- Sam Dylan Finch (September 30, 2019). “7 Subtle Signs Your Trauma Response is People Pleasing.” Healthline.com. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/7-subtle-signs-your-trauma-response-is-people-pleasing#1.-You-struggle-to-feel-seen-by-others.