Tired of Playing Peacekeeper? Here's How to Put Yourself First

By Jessica Hicks
November 24, 2022

Every office, friend group, and family has a peacekeeper—the person who defuses all disagreement and smooths over every confrontation. Assuming the peacekeeper role is truly an art form—from practicing perspective-taking to balancing empathy and neutrality—finding yourself in the middle is a juggling act that requires careful attention and patience.

But while having the ability to broker harmony between friends and family can come in handy during dinnertime disagreements and other uncomfortable situations, it can also wear you down over time. Plus, say experts, the ability probably doesn’t stem from a place of impartiality.

“Becoming a peacekeeper could be the result of past trauma, but more than likely it developed within one’s family system,” explains Hannah Paull, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist at the Berman Center, in Atlanta. “For instance, when an individual was triangulated between their parents, or when one sibling or member of the family was continuously rewarded for keeping the peace.”