“A psychiatrist once told me early in treatment, “Stop trying to make me like you,” and what a sobering and welcome smack in the face that statement was. Yet somehow, every day of my life is still a campaign for popularity, or better yet, a crowded funeral.” – John Waters
We all want to be liked. No matter how secure you are in yourself, the idea that somebody might not like you is, at the very least, a little disheartening. This is human nature, we all crave connection and positive energy, but the fact is, we can’t have it all the time.
Others liking you is good for many things; you feel validated, it is easier to obtain help and to get things done, it fosters a constructive atmosphere and you are reassured that the way that you are, the way that you behave, is met with positivity. However, getting bogged down in the need to be liked by another person, or other people, can also get in your way. Let’s have a think about how this might impact you and why you will better off if you let go of the need to be liked.
1. Apologising For Yourself
Needing to be liked sometimes leads people to dumb down aspects of their personality, which has a huge impact on self-confidence and can put people into an apologetic headspace. Apologising for who you are by lacking conviction in who are helps nobody. It will not help your wellbeing and self-image, but most notably, it will not convince people to like you more, so you might as well be yourself!
2. You Are Not A Known Quantity
Another problem with editing yourself for the benefit of other people liking you is that others are not getting a true representation of who you are. Sure, your edits might mean that somebody likes you more, but they do not like the true you. This creates a few problems. First of all, are you going to be fully satisfied with having to be someone you are not in certain situations? Second, maybe one day you will have a strong opinion about something that contradicts the image you have been projecting. How will this outburst look to those whom you have ‘won over’? One should never edit ones-self for the benefit of others. It is better for wellbeing, and is far less messy!
3. Not Everybody Will Like You
We are all different. If we were all exactly the same, the tapestry of life would be very uninspiring indeed. You have head this cliché before, and it is as true now as it has ever been. In this context, it is a useful cliché to dig up, as accepting it will help you to let go of the need to be liked.
We are not all the same; therefore, not everybody is going to like you. Accepting this, truly accepting it, is a very helpful step. There is nothing you can do about it, whatever measures you take. So, be OK with some people not liking you, and make more time for those that do.
4. You Can’t Be Honest
If you are worried about your likeability then it is hard to get anything done. How many times have you held back on an opinion or just let something go for fear that someone might not agree with you? If you are happy with who you are and the way that you feel about things, don’t hide it. If others disagree with you, then you needn’t give them more time than is necessary.
5. Wasting Your Time
Once again, how many times have you found yourself doing something you didn’t want to because you didn’t want to upset somebody? The concern over likeability often sees people using up a lot of their time doing things that they are not completely comfortable doing. Look after yourself. Let others know who you are. Don’t say yes if your brain is saying no!
6. Making Decisions Based on Reward
The need to be like can be oddly self-involved. If you are operating on the basis of being liked, you are in danger of hard-wiring your brain only to show interest, compassion, empathy or willing based on reward. This is not a great mind-set to get into. If you put the need to be liked aside, you are much more likely to be able to show genuine emotional behaviour towards others without the expectation of thanks or reward.
By Chris Thomson
Sometimes others react negatively to us, not because they don’t like us, but because they have other stuff going on. Conscious empathy is a hugely useful thing to foster in yourself: Conscious Ways to Develop Empathy
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