We all want to be liked. As children we understand the importance of fitting in and being with the popular kids. On a primitive level we recognise that the animals who are not part of the herd become vulnerable to predators and are often unable to survive alone and unprotected. We want to be safe, join in, be accepted and comfortably part of the gang.
But as we get older, we may see that many of our ‘friends’ are there through circumstance rather than being kindred spirits, with similarities in taste or style. There may be relatively few compatibility boxes ticked. We simply work in the same place, attend the same gym, have children at the same school.
The fact that there are one or two key points of shared interest may sustain our relationship for a time. But often when our children have changed school, or we’ve moved jobs, the connection is severed. Or we’re newly single and our changed status and perceived freedom is causing unease amongst our circle for a myriad of reasons. Remembering this is important if we’re in a situation where we’re feeling we’re not liked.
– We may find that not being liked is a reaction to us voicing a contradictory opinion, perhaps commenting on someone’s behaviour, values or priorities. If we’ve remarked on how someone spends their money, raises their children or continues to be with a partner who seems negative or controlling, we may find we become the ‘bad guy’ in the equation, easy to dislike even though all the information we’re basing our comments on has come from them in the first place.
– It can be hard to hold onto our self-belief when we’re mixing with people who hold diametrically opposing views and disagree or denigrate us at every opportunity. If we don’t agree or dare to contradict, we may find ourselves categorised as difficult or argumentative. If circumstances dictate that our paths regularly cross, future meetings with these people can become tense, stressful experiences, especially if other members of the group sit quietly and say nothing, fearful of any backlash that may come their way.
– Being different can cause us to be disliked and yet how often do we enthuse over items that are quirky, unusual, unique? It can require confidence to stand out from the crowd and be bold, flamboyant or high-profile and there may be fear or hesitancy at attracting the wrong kind of attention. And sometimes those extravagant looks can be fairly transitory, here today and gone tomorrow. But what is fun sometimes to wear, do, say, make something that really does set us apart from the rest. If people react negatively or don’t like it, simply keep your own counsel. Treat it as a valuable experience, you had a go, tried your best and
shouldn’t regret that.
– Success and working hard can irritate others and trigger their dislike by forcing them to face their own inaction and lack of motivation. They may be seriously annoyed even though they know that they’d never be committed enough to make the necessary sacrifices or put in the hard work. Is it jealousy? Being resentful of other’s success can manifest as dislike, disapproval and contempt. But just because they do very little with their time doesn’t mean that you should tone down to fit in with them!
– Social media has historically been about being popular, having loads of friends, aiming to have the most likes, shares and followers. It can cause us to regard everybody in our circle as a friend and yet many of those are people we’re friendly with rather than actual friends. Several social media providers have started to change their rules about likes, appreciating that many young people are negatively affected if their posts don’t receive tons of interaction.
– As we get older, we gradually start to realise that being liked or disliked is about someone else’s view of us, what’s going on in their lives, rather than being specifically about us and our behaviour. Perspective is the key. Is something about us highlighting their shortcomings, are we disagreeing with their views, something they find hard to accept?
If you’re on the receiving end of this treatment, maybe pause and review where you’re going, who you’re spending your time with. When we’re not liked we can feel criticised, disapproved of and vulnerable. It may cause us to shut down and protect ourselves in an effort to not expose too much of ourselves to others. But ask yourself, is it okay not to be liked by them? Keeping our own counsel can provide time for valuable reflection.
Why not plan to go where you’ll meet more empathic, complementary people? Perhaps a women’s group, business networking event, enrolling in classes or attending wellbeing events. When you start hanging out with people who’re similar to yourself, you’ll quickly find that you’re liked and likeable. Often dislike is a reaction to something people feel uncomfortable about or don’t understand.
Start by following your own path, being true to what feels right for you and ‘your’ people will like you for that. It’s okay not to be liked by those others.
Susan Leigh, counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She’s author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit www.lifestyletherapy.net