Today I was inspired to share a little something different on the blog so please humor me. The featured photo is from the movie “Legally Blonde” after Elle gets dumped by her boyfriend Warner. Typing this all I could think about was Elle saying, “So you’re breaking up with me because you’re afraid your family won’t like me? Everybody likes me.” I’ve admitted on here before that I get anxiety quite often and one of the worst times is when someone doesn’t like me. One piece of advice I continually get is “to Hell with those people” but I don’t think that mindset is always healthy. Doing the hard work of introspection can lead to not only personal growth but stronger relationships. These are the 5 questions I ask myself when that happens because- full disclosure- it really hurts. I hope this helps other people who could be struggling with the same thing.
Question 1: Do I even like them?
Has your anxiety ever been so high, the desire to fit in so great, that you find yourself trying to be liked by someone you don’t even like? Yeah, I’ve done that. Let’s say you work with someone who doesn’t like you and you’d never be friends “in real life”. Keep the conversation superficial, don’t read too much into it, and let it leave your mind as soon as you clock out. Not every workplace is like “The Office” and you shouldn’t put pressure on yourself to make it that way. This question is a great place to start and it could be the only one you need to ask.
Question 2: Does this person know me?
This is a big one. Do they really know you? That includes your good and bad qualities: how fiercely you love, your loyalty to your friends, your ability to put your foot so far in your mouth you fear it might come out the other end… Here’s my theory, the best kinds of people take the time to get to know you before they make a judgement call. Sometimes people don’t like you because they haven’t gotten to know you. Sometimes they know exactly who you are and they still don’t like you. Know the difference.
Question 3: Is there anything for which I can apologize?
I know me, you guys. I’ve met me. I can understand why not everyone would like me. I tend to be a very direct person which is not for everyone. I have flat-out asked people, “Did I do something to make you upset?” which can really catch them off guard. They don’t want to talk about it. They want to sweep it under the rug but I can’t do that. If I don’t know where I went wrong, I can’t fix it. Being aware of how others can perceive me has helped me to anticipate potential faux pas but I’m still working on it. If I’ve said or done something to make another person upset I apologize. Here’s a secret a lot of people don’t know about apologies. Please tell all your friends. ***You don’t have to be sorry for what you did in order to be sorry for how it made someone feel.***
Question 4: What about me does the person dislike?
There are things that you can fix with an apology and things that you can’t. Simple misinterpretations of a word or action can be remedied with a discussion if you’re dealing with a reasonable human being. But remember, dear heart, you’re not always dealing with reasonable human beings. If I can’t fix it with an apology or I don’t think I owe anyone an apology then the situation becomes more problematic. Do they dislike that I talk too much? That’s probably not going to change. Is it more serious than my personality? Does this action or belief rub them the wrong way or does it sort of draw a line in the sand between us? If it’s your personality they don’t like and you’re not being intentionally rude to them then there’s not a lot you can do. If it’s a line in the sand moment then you ask yourself the final question.
Question 5: Do I change?
Much like Brian McKnight we’re “back at one”… You’ve already asked yourself if you like this person but what do you do when the answer is “yes”? You do like that person or at least you thought you did until a conflict arises that seems insurmountable. You have to ask yourself how much that person really means to you and if you’re committed to moving forward with the relationship whether it’s professional or personal. When someone dislikes you because of something you can’t or don’t want to change and they won’t like you unless you commit to changing then you have to walk away (emotionally or literally). Just remember, when an opportunity presents itself for you to change the answer isn’t always “to thine own self be true”. There have been times in my life when I ended up making a change and it ultimately led to personal growth. There are other times when I walked away from someone who was toxic to me and as much as it hurt I knew it was the only thing that was going to preserve my mental health.
Hopefully those questions can help someone who has anxiety about being disliked. It isn’t always that you’re perfect and they’re just “haters”. I also don’t mean that you’re perpetually in the wrong. Maturing as a person means you’re willing to accept either possibility. Growing means you’re willing to make a change if you choose to do so.
The last thing to remember is what my dad explained to me as a kid, “Do your best. That’s all you can do.” I’m sure he also said some form of, “You weren’t put on this earth for everyone to like you.”
I’ve decided to explain it like this…
I could be the most beautiful unicorn in the history of ever. My mane has more colors than you even knew existed. I am pure of heart. I sweat excellence and cry only happy tears. There are still going to be people who would rather have a pony and there’s nothing I can do about it.
Until next time,