Fear can be absolutely paralyzing–freezing us in our tracks, sometimes for a few minutes–other times, we can stay frozen and stuck for years. How do we change that? I’ve been there, ready to make big decisions and feeling so worried about “getting it wrong”that I freeze and do nothing. And as I’m sure you’ve heard it before–No decision IS a decision.

When I feel stuck, I tend to do two things: freak out and flee OR overthink things to death. You too?

Here’s why we do it…

So, what’s our response to fear and how to we change it? To get geeky for a minute–when our brain is presented with a stimulus that has us feeling anxious, we do one of two things that I’m sure you have heard of–“fight or flight”. We either avoid and run from what is upsetting us or we prepare ourselves for a fight. That’s our defenses. This response is our protection. Our inner narrative tells us that we have a reason to require protection so we respond in kind. Researchers, psychologists, and scientists have now also discovered a third response we have and it’s called “fawn.”

Fawn is when we shrink ourselves in response to a fear or anxiety provoking stimulus. What does this mean? Ever find yourself in patterns of people pleasing or not speaking up because you want to avoid conflict, confrontation, or your perception of being embattled with someone or a situationBINGO, you’ve experienced fawning.

It was a huge ah-ha to me when I learned about trauma research and the third response to fear/stress/anxiety. I would find myself so worried about keeping the peace and making everyone around me happy that I would shrink, I would out everyone before myself never considering what I wanted or how I was feeling about it. I just called it “shoving things into my suitcase.”

And guess what…ultimately, it didn’t work.

I told myself a story that everyone else was happy and taken care of so everything was okay but it wasn’t. I was never on the menu, no one understood how much I was suffering AND frankly I hardly realized how much I was suffering because I was so busy with everyone else. And most of all, the thing I wanted more than anything was to feel connected with others and because I was so busy people pleasing, people never actually go to know the real me.

Even as I write this to you now, I realize that this blog will definitely be a 2 part series. In reading this, I need you to identify your response to fear/stress AND what it’s costing you.

Do you avoid?

Do you run?

Do you fight?

Do you point fingers?

Are you defensive?

Do you try to make everyone else happy?

Do you try to avoid conflict?

Are you trying to always be right?

Are you trying to always make it “perfect”?


In our next part, I’ll share with you some of the ways to identify your behaviors/responses AND what to do about them.

In the meantime, our theme for Mindrise this month is Fire Your Fears: Brain Science on Fear…we’ll be practicing this mantra,  “When I feel my fears, I release control + awaken the possibility +willingness.” I suggest that you practice it this week, I’ll be practicing it too.

Ready to make a change and learn how to get out of your own way? Let’s talk, setup your 20min coaching consult with a Mindrise Coach now!