Feel bad saying "no"? Signs You're In Survival Mode + How To Get Out
If you tend to say “yes” to things (because you feel bad saying “no” and like helping out) even though it makes you feel overwhelmed or resentful, this may surprise you…
That’s a sign of the “fawn” trauma response (aka you’re stuck in survival mode)!
A trauma response happens any time you encounter more stress than you can process in the moment. Soooo really everyone can relate to at least one of the 4 F’s (fight, flight, freeze, or fawn).
Basically, your brain has decided that the fawn response is the best way to keep you safe. Since it is super devoted to you and its ONE mission in life is to keep you safe and loved, it has chosen “fawn” as its default setting. And it has gotten a little bit too protective (it’s interpreting things that aren’t actually threatening - like someone asking you if you want to go out for dinner after work when you really just want a chill evening at home - as threatening and responding as if it’s a lion about to attack).
But here’s the thing about trauma responses that’s making your life more uncomfortable than it has to be…
When you’re stuck in survival mode, the thing you need the most when things are feeling hard is the opposite of what your brain automatically does.
As soon as you say yes, you probably feel good for a second and then you’re immediately filled with regret. That’s because your nervous system’s default setting is to say “yes” before the logical part of your brain can think about what is happening.
When something feels hard or you’re stressed, your default is to focus on how you can help others or to be appreciated/liked. You have a ton of empathy for others and you’re very in tune with their emotions, but you have little empathy for yourself (you’re actually really tough on yourself) and have difficulty expressing or talking about how you feel.
What you really need when you’re in “fawn” mode is going to feel most unnatural:
To have the same amount of empathy and compassion for yourself as you do for others.
These patterns developed because you feel safe and loved when you’re helping others and receiving praise, but instead of relying on external validation to feel good about yourself what you really need is internal validation that you are worthy of love just as you are.
You also need boundaries (as intimidating as that sounds) - starting with the way you’re treating yourself. And to start learning how to connect with and process your own emotions instead of trying to help others feel better.
Here’s how this pattern may be impacting your health....
You’re living in a state of stress and feeling over-extended, and it’s taking a toll. You’re exhausted, right? You probably don’t feel like you have time to prioritize healthy habits (including time just to yourself or to relax), because you’re “too busy” taking care of everything and everyone around you. Even when you try to make time for you, something comes up. You’d love to have some help, but you feel bad asking and wish people would just offer (or not ask you to do things).
You’re your own worst critic when it comes to how you feel about yourself and your body, which means you tend to self-sacrifice basic necessities (like healthy food and sleep) because your body isn’t cooperating anyway. You constantly worry about what others think of you and brush off compliments as them “just being nice”.
You find it hard to make healthy changes when you’re around others who aren’t making healthy choices or speaking up for what you need, because you don’t want to seem difficult or high maintenance.
Since these tendencies are automatic, they’re not going to change unless you decide to change them.
Both staying in a trauma response and overcoming it feels hard. You can’t avoid that.
However, the RESULT of doing the hard thing feels very different between the two:
- Staying in a trauma response will further drain your energy and continue to feel disappointing and uncomfortable
- Working to overcome a trauma response will ultimately give you MORE energy and help you to get closer to what you truly want (and need) every step of the way
How to start breaking the cycle…
Overcoming a trauma response and the automatic patterns that have been draining your energy and keeping you stuck doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process.
But every process involves just one small step at a time! And each small step that frees you from the patterns that have been draining your energy and making life harder than it has to be will give you more energy and motivation for the next smallest step.
The problem with most approaches is that they do the opposite of what you need: they add stress to your life which just keeps you even more stuck in the trauma response you need to escape.
That’s why my approach is designed to decrease your stress, not add more to your plate!
My programs are designed to feel like a breath of fresh air.
My LBC (Life Boosting Change) Approach transforms the way you experience life. It gets you out of survival mode, off the hamster wheel (of working hard, yet exhausted and not where you want to be), and on a path that adds pleasure, energy, and fulfillment every doable step of the way.
We get to the root of why things haven’t been working and what has been feeling hard so you can create the change you’ve been wanting - no willpower or discipline required. And you most definitely don’t need to be on your best behavior (that’s actually not helpful unless you want to be stuck trying to be on your best behavior your entire life).
My goal is to help you to feel better today instead of living in the “things will be better once...” mindset.
Here are ways to get started:
- Use my favorite 1 minute anti-anxiety tool to start signaling to your body that's it's okay to shift out of survival mode. Faster EFT is an amazing way to start being gentle with yourself and to release the stress and emotions you’re keeping bottled up.
- Send me an email at email@example.com and let me know what part of this resonates with you, so we can start a conversation and identify what resource or program sounds most doable and helpful to you. If you prefer to chat, you can schedule a complimentary 30 min “curiosity and connections call” to block out 30 minutes for us to connect and to address any questions you have.
- Visit my website (www.lifeboost.today) to learn more about my LBC approach and the programs available! Did you know my programs require as little as 10 minutes per day? What if you swapped 10 minutes of time on your phone scrolling through social media for 10 minutes on your phone feeling like a huge weight is being lifted off your shoulders as you shift out of survival mode and finally start making the changes you’ve been wanting but have felt “too busy” for? That's an option that's totally available to you.
My approach is holistic, so that we can get to the root of what hasn’t been working + create a new norm that does:
“Amelia and I were able to have deep conversations to get to the root of why I was so stressed. I realized through talking to her that I have “people pleasing” tendencies and I would never say “no” at work even if it meant that I was being either overworked or was uncomfortable with situations. We also learned that my sleeping habits were getting disrupted by having my dogs in the bed, once they were no longer sleeping with me and sleep improved greatly which also improved my stress levels cause I wasn’t so tired!
Amelia has helped me so much pay attention to my body. I started picking up trends that I didn’t notice before, it made me go see a doctor and I found out that I had Celiac’s disease. Without Amelia’s help I don’t know if I ever would have gone out of my way to get my health checked out because prior I was always “too busy” and made excuses to not go to a doctor.” (Katie, past client)