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How to get over the need to be get liked by everyone you meet

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Wanting to be liked by everyone

Many people go through life desiring everyone to like them – not just a boss or a co-worker but strangers – the customer-service reps, cab drivers, or people in the grocery store.

Just telling yourself, it doesn’t matter if the others like you is bad advice. You know it doesn’t affect your life on an intellectual level whether this stranger thinks you're wonderful, but that doesn’t stop you from wanting them to.

Think of yourself as an inkblot

The inkblot consists of patterns where you have to explain what you see. What a person sees says more about them than it does about the inkblot.

The same thing is true interpersonally. The qualities that make you likeable to one person will make you unlikable to another person. Research shows that people like other people with personalities most similar to their own. You can’t control the preferences of the other person.

Consider all the things you don’t know

Many factors influence how someone might feel about you.

Someone might be having a bad day, or they may be distracted by their workload. All are aspects beyond your control. The factors may influence how people respond to you, but they’re not about you.

Pinpoint your biases

We all have some problematic thought patterns that we are unaware of.

  • One is mind-reading, where you wrongly assume that whoever you’re with is thinking negative thoughts about you.
  • Another is personalising, making something about you when it isn’t.
  • Or catastrophising, where you assume the worst-case scenario.

The key is to figure out which ones apply to you. Consider which assumptions do you have about yourself that skewed your perception of what happened.

The difference between negative and neutral

When someone comes across as neither obviously friendly nor overly hostile, most people will find it difficult to read them accurately.

That means many neutral encounters end up being perceived as negative ones. People who are sensitive to rejection may assume other people will shut them out. Recognizing our own skewed perception of the world is a first step toward solving it. With classic cognitive behavioural therapy techniques, we can learn to reinterpret other people’s behaviour.

Tell yourself the odds are against you

Put yourself in the context of the whole world. Imagine spending a week interacting with all 7 billion people on the planet. Then consider what percentage of those people would say that you're generally a likeable person.

For example, thinking that around 70 percent of people would like you means 30 percent wouldn't. That means out of 7 billion people, 2.1 billion wouldn't like you. That is a lot of people. You're going to be disliked. That means shrug it off and move on.

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