When you get older, you feel much less able to defend yourself against physical attacks or simply run away as fast as you can.
The fawning trauma response, which is often described as motivated by a “need to avoid conflict”, can have a lot to do with that. It’s what you do when you can’t fight or flee and when freezing is not part of your mental make-up.
The fawning response serves to keep you physically unharmed, helps you avoid physical trauma.
This is the phenomenon that I have noticed in older women here in the UK who live on their own. I didn’t know that there was a name for it. As soon as you turn 45, you’d better make sure that you have a black belt in judo that you keep up or quietly fade into the background and smile a lot, right?
Wrong. But this is what we are taught.
The way to overcome this fawning response is to very deliberately risk physical harm in conflict situations. What do I mean by that?
If you stand up for yourself in conflict situations that are often the result of older adults being widely ridiculed and demonized in the UK and you very deliberately risk getting injured, knowing very well that there won’t be a thing that you can do against it anyway, you radiate strength.
You radiate “I don’t give a fuck what you do to me, I’m gonna say what I want, I’m gonna say how I feel about how you are behaving and if I end up on a hospital ward with a broken arm, a concussion and a black eye as a result of that, so be it.”
You likely feel that you don’t want to spend even a second of your time on the abusive fools that you encounter and prefer to ignore them and contentedly live your life.
But until you do spend those few seconds on them and let them know what’s what, they may well continue to force you to see them if these are people who you encounter on a regular basis. Because people who are abusive desperately want to be seen and heard. They want a sense of power and if you ignore these people, you motivate them to keep bugging you.
The fawning response, on the other hand, may feed their addiction to a certain feeling. That too can keep them coming back for more.
Also, get as fit as you can. Do what you can to stay fit. Even if it’s just a daily Tai Chi session that someone teaches on Vimeo or YouTube. You’ll feel so much better. It’s not true that old age comes with muscle weakness and illnesses by definition. You do have to work harder at staying fit, or so we think, but the reality is that we simply were much more active when we were younger and may have gotten lazy.
I don’t think that older adults should need to get nose and eyebrow piercings or start wearing chainmail and biker jackets just to discourage aggression and feel safer.