by Lori Deschene
âIf your number one goal is to make sure that everyone likes and approves of you, then you risk sacrificing your uniqueness, and, therefore, your excellence.â ~Unknown
We all know at least one hardcore people-pleaser. You know the signs: She sleeps out in the rain and gets sick so her friendâs dog can fit in the tent. Sheâs 100% Republican but pretends sheâs Democrat solely because her friends are.
If a friend calls her stupid, she whips up a batch of cookies and makes a card that reads, âIâm sorry for disappointing you.â And despite all her efforts to be liked by everyone, many people disrespect her.
Maybe thatâs you, maybe itâs notâbut odds are, you can relate at least a little to the desire to be well-liked. Who doesnât want to feel accepted, respected, and appreciated?
For most of my life, my need to be liked overshadowed all my other needs. I was always trying to manipulate perception, adapting myself to receive validation. It was draining and counterproductive, since very few people actually knew meâthe real meâwhich is a prerequisite to liking me.
Iâve since learned itâs actually a good sign if there are some people who donât accept or agree with me.
Iâm not suggesting we should be rude, inconsiderate, or disrespectful. This post isnât about disregarding other peopleâs feelings.
This is about releasing our stress about other peopleâs opinions.
When youâre comfortable not being liked by everyone:
1. It allows you to be true to yourself.
The biggest disservice you can do yourself is shapeshifting to please your âaudienceâ of the moment. Itâs exhausting (even to watch) and, more importantly, pointless. No one will get to know who you really are, which will leave you feeling empty.
2. It gives you the power to say no.
I believe people are good at heart. Still, itâs human nature to test each otherâs boundaries. When youâre willing to risk being disliked, youâre able to say no when you need to. Your yeses and nos shapes your future, so choose them wisely.
3. Youâre more comfortable exploring your feelings.
Doesnât it feel good to just be where you are without pretending for someone elseâs sake? Iâm not saying you should act in anger or fear, just that itâs pretty exhilarating to say, âHell yeahâIâm terrifiedâ (or lonely or weak or struggling) regardless of what people will think.
4. Your candor can help other people.
An angst-filled younger me made a fake voodoo doll for a middle school teacher who was hard on me, but forever changed my life (not my proudest moment). Itâs often the least popular people who strike the deepest chord in us. Be unpopular when necessary and push people to be their best. You just may save someoneâs life.
5. You can freely express your thoughts.
One of the kindest things you can do for someone else is listen without judging. You deserve that same kindness, but you wonât always get it. People will form opinions as you speak. Talk anyway. Let your words be kind but fearless.
6. It prepares you for greater success.
Pick a popular Twitter user and look at their @replies. Odds are they field their fair share of harsh comments. The higher you rise, the more attention youâll receive, both positive and negative. A willingness to be disliked helps you deal with the added scrutiny.
7. It teaches you to offer kindness and compassion without expectations.
Itâs not difficult to offer compassion to someone who treats you with respect and kindness. Whatâs more valuable for your personal development, and to humanity as whole, is the ability to do whatâs right because itâs rightânot because you get something in return.
8. You can inspire other people.
There is someone I know who has the uncanny ability to keep going even when others try to pull her down. I learn from her every day. To this woman, anyone who doesnât appreciate her assertive, over-the-top personality is a reminder that she is unique and unafraid.
9. You can use your time wisely.
If you want to be liked by everyone, odds are youâre spreading yourself way too thin trying to keep them all happy. We need to use our time judiciously to enrich ourselves and others, instead of worrying about everyoneâs perceptions.
10. You can choose to smile anyway.
You could use your energy to make daily inventories of everything thatâs wrongâthe money you donât have, the esteem you didnât earn, the people you disappointed. Or you could commit to being your best, and then just sit back and smile. Life will always be a balancing act. Learn to teeter in serenity.