The psychology behind being perpetually late

Punctual people may believe that late people are passive-aggressive and that their time is more valuable than those who wait for them. But reasons for lateness are generally more complex. The reason may be the opposite of arrogance. It could be that they don’t value themselves enough. If this is the case, might they be unable to see how others could possibly mind their non-appearance?

This explanation may work for social situations, but why miss planes, boats and trains? Perhaps it is an unconscious testing of the theory: “If I were a worthy person, the train would wait for me.” Since it doesn’t, the feeling of not mattering is reinforced.

One client I had kept thwarting her own attempts to succeed in her career, and bad time-keeping was part of this. When we unpicked what success would mean to her, she uncovered an old family belief that people with money were evil, bad people. Faced with a choice of not progressing or being evil, it was no wonder she kept up with the self-sabotage programme.

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