I won't even comment on how long it's been since I blogged. A year? Sheesh. I've been busy.
I remember the term "people pleaser" as I was growing up. It was ascribed to me, and others around me, back then in the 70s and 80s, and I rarely hear it now. Did it get less popular? Do we still think that? Have I just changed.
I thought of it last night when I noticed my 4 year old son doing something. He apologizes quickly, and often for things he didn't do. If I step on a toy, he apologizes. "Sorry mom." And it sounds sincere. Sometimes it's twice, "Sorry, mom, sorry." And sometimes it wasn't his fault. When I tripped over my own shoe, that I left out, he said, "Sorry, mom, sorry."
My daughter and husband never do this, but my son and I do. And at first I wondered--will he get walked over? I was always worried growing up, from what people said to me, that I'd be taken advantage of. And there are moments, yes, when I do.
But sometimes, I think his quick apologies are just a reaction of being considerate. He feels sorry that my foot got hurt, or sorry that the room is a mess, or just generally, what do you say when you feel bad that something went wrong?
And recently I've been working for someone who has a tendency to not want to take blame. If they ordered the wrong item? It was listed badly in the photo. If they gave me an impossible task and I made an error, it was my fault. Every apology is considered--how will people see me if I apologize? Will it weaken my position? Will they think it was all my fault?
With that, I'm starting to think that the whole "people pleasing" is not so bad. If my son apologizes, it's part of his compassionate makeup. I can tell already he's the type to charm a room instantly. My daughter might struggle more--babysitters will speak of his being "sweet" but will note their challenges with her more. Having a personality which doesn't challenge others is not the be-all-end-all. I hope like crazy that my daughter challenges people, shakes them up, moves mountains, and gets whatever she needs. And if my son feels bad when you hurt your foot, even if he wishes he could have helped you, and even if he had nothing to do with it, I hope that stays around too.