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  • Writer's pictureEmma Coyle

“Sorry seems to be the hardest word” (unless you’re a ‘people pleaser’ that is...)

In that case, the hardest thing is not saying sorry, as to not say sorry risks upsetting someone else and making them feel bad. A people pleaser doesn’t want that. Rather they want to avoid conflict, they want everyone else to be happy and they will go out of their way just to make it so.

Their need to always apologise, is a habit that’s usually taken a lifetime to form. In fact they probably don’t even realise they are doing it until it gets pointed out to them by someone else, maybe even years later. “Stop saying sorry!” or “Why are you apologising (again)?” Yet perhaps always saying sorry lessens the impact of an apology when one is really called for…

So, where does this need to please others come from?

Well, often it starts in childhood. In desperately wanting to make others happy and proud of them, the people pleaser will always act in ways that are kind and thoughtful. It is as if they are saying:“I am here to do whatever you want to do. Please stay calm and don’t get upset.” Of course it then becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, as whenever they behave in a loving, caring way, they notice that others indeed respond positively, offering protection, safety and even love in return. However, whilst it can sometimes be good to take on the role of peacemaker (and who doesn’t like someone who is friendly, helpful, supportive and generous?!) it can also mean that others may take advantage of their good nature (perhaps unconsciously), letting them take responsibility for things that are not really of their doing or expecting things from them that are not always within their capability to deliver.

The other problem is that in looking after everyone else’s needs, one’s own needs may be overlooked. In fact they may no longer know what their needs are, having neglected them for so long. In losing faith in their own ability to be loved just for being them, and instead placing conditions around their being ‘lovable,’ they have lost parts of themselves and even some of their self-esteem along the way.

I’m not going to lie, this script once written, is very hard to edit. But the good news is that it can be pointed out, acknowledged and worked on. It just takes time.

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