April 15, 2021

What’s your default response to danger: Fight, flight, freeze, or fawn?

I’m totally fawn. I’m so fawn, I should live in a forest. Which would fit my aesthetic, incidentally – but that’s beside the point.

The point is, I’m a people-pleaser. My brain tells me that the best way to keep people from getting angry, or even annoyed, is to do everything just right.

That’s unsustainable.

I don’t think the solution is to adopt a different danger response, though. What I actually want is to more accurately identify threats.

Someone is waiting for me to reply to an email? Not a threat.

Someone honks when I fail to notice that a traffic light has turned green? Not a threat.

Someone gives me a judgmental look, for my appearance or movement or mysterious reasons? Not a threat.

Real threats exist. But they are rooted in people’s actions, not their feelings. How they feel is not directly a danger to me.

My body doesn’t believe this yet, but I’ll keep reminding it. When I know that I’m safe, I want to act like it – even if I don’t feel it in my bones.

This may result in some late emails.

P.S. I write from my personal experience as an autistic. What I share is not a substitute for advice from an autistic medical professional. Also, some of my opinions have changed since I first wrote them.