The Fawn Response Dilemma

Keywords: Fawn Response

When you are constantly looking for validation, you might easily overextend yourself. You will cross your own boundaries to get that validation, and in the process, lose your own sense of self.

That mechanism rests on the hurt of not feeling sufficiently validated—perhaps through chronic neglect or some form of abuse you went through—and you adopted a fawn survival response to cope.

The Need for Validation and The Fawn Response

As that need of validation comes out of a hurt, any direct validation you might get will never be enough. 

Your mind will more likely be focused on spotting or even creating rejection—as in self-sabotage, or messing things up—as that is the pain you fearfully try to avoid.

When you are constantly looking for validation, you might easily overextend yourself. You will cross your own boundaries to get that validation, and in the process, lose your own sense of self.

The overextension and doing too much to be liked might be perceived as false, and your expectation of positive emotional feedback can be exhausting for others.

Reacting Out of Hurt and Setting Boundaries

When you aren’t getting the validation that you want or expect from your efforts, or you get feedback that appears like criticism, you might well get upset and swing to the extreme of setting boundaries that are too strict in an attempt to reestablish your sense of self and dignity.

The problem is that your reaction will be out of proportion as it does not necessarily relate to the person or circumstance, but more to your loss of boundaries, your need for validation, and your core hurt.

Cyclic Patterns, The Fawn Response, and Healing

The above might become a pattern in which you constantly move between giving up too much of yourself, followed by the need to reestablish yourself and pushing people away from you in the process—followed by guilt and shame—and then back again to the need for connection, validation, and overextending yourself.

Once you start to become aware of these processes, that in itself takes away some of the persistence of the pattern.

If you can see that your core hurt—a lack of validation either from abuse or neglect—is at the root of that behavioral pattern, you can then start to face that and work through it.

Your cyclic reaction of overextending yourself, followed by setting too strict of a boundary or lashing out, can start to lessen as you move through the different layers and access and process your core emotional pain.

  • Do you want to reduce anxiety, hyper-vigilance, and being “ON” alert constantly?
  • Do you want to move out of a dissociated, fatigued and depressed state?
  • Do you want to work with anger and reestablishing boundaries?
  • Are you interested in sleeping better, having better relationships, and being able to live a normal life?

I have created The Trauma Care Audio Guided Meditations which address the most fundamental insights into the processes of trauma and dissociation and how you can work through them.

  • Agrippa Mwale says:

    Thank you so much Roland for u have contributed so much to me,the way I feel now it’s totally different from the way I was feeling 2 years ago, and this is because of your messages u send,
    Thank you so much

  • James says:

    Thanks Roland. This one really resonated. Keep up the good work!

  • Kimberly Skach says:

    Roland, every time you send out an email, I race to read it. I often tape them to my mirror or spend several days journaling and rereading. You have far more insight than everything else I have done. Trauma-informed practices are just beginning to be taught here in Washington state. I so hope you will put all of this in a book!

  • Joseph says:

    Thanks Roland, I often notice this pattern in myself, although it seems to be linked first to getting ‘righteous’ about something/someone, which then results in rejection. Which one of your meditations do you think is the best to tackle this pattern? I feel like I have been aware of this pattern for some years without it actually changing…

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