Do you want everybody to like you?
The great Albert Ellis said that one of the best ways to create misery is to work from the mindset that all people must like you at all times.
I must say, I agree with him. Many of the people with whom I counsel regarding issues pertaining to depression struggle with whether or not they feel they meet the approval of others. In other words, are they being liked.
You may wonder if I am talking about grown ups because surely you never feel that way. Well, yes, these are adults I’m speaking about; the need for being liked by everyone begins in childhood and rightly so.
It’s there that we receive our social grooming for life. We learned to put forth our best image. What did that look like? How about having good manners, wearing clean clothes and displaying good hygiene?
Actually, everyone starts out in life wanting to be safe, loved, and accepted. It’s in our DNA. Some of us figure out that the best way to do this is to put aside what we want or feel and allow someone else’s needs and feelings to take priority.
This works for a while. It feels natural, and there’s less outer conflict, but our inner conflict grows. If we’d like to say “No”, we feel guilty, and we may feel resentful when we say “Yes”. We’re between a rock and a hard place.
Some People-Pleaser Examples
- *You may put in extra time at work and try to please the boss but get passed over for a promotion or discover you are doing work you are not enjoying at all.
- *You may be very accommodating to family and friends and they seem not to appreciate what you do.
- *You may feel that they take you for granted and you wind up being resentful that you are always the one called on for help, extra work, or to take care of someone else’s problems.
How about your intimate relationships? Your love life might suffer, too.
You give and give to your partner, but feel unappreciated or unimportant. Your needs and desires aren’t considered. You may begin to feel bored, joyless, or mildly depressed. You may miss earlier times when you were happier or more independent. The anger, resentment, hurt, and conflict you have always tried to avoid just mounts up!
This is a heaping amount of internal stress!
Are you feeling trapped?
Facing these challenges may sometimes drive a person to dodge relationships and just be alone. (Although that clearly isn’t the solution).
Being alone might appear to be a welcome escape from these challenges, but then we’d end up sacrificing our connection to others. Being connected to others is what we truly want, we have a need for being liked.
Sometimes, it seems like we have to choose between sacrificing ourselves and sacrificing a relationship.
Accommodating others is so ingrained in us that stopping it is not only difficult, it’s terrifying.
Why? Because we were taught to be cooperative and kind.
Starting in Childhood
The problem is that for many, our pleasing is more than kindness. Some children decide that accommodating their parents’ wishes is the safest way to survive in a world of powerful adults and the best way to win their parents’ acceptance and love.
They try to be good and not make waves. “Good” means what parents want. Their parents may have had high expectations, been critical, had rigid rules, withheld love or approval, or punished them for “mistakes,” dissent, or showing anger.
We were not taught that we had any choice other than to please the “tall people” in our lives.
Can you imagine when it was appropriate to tell your adult family members, teachers, principals, child-care staff, “no”?
Hardly ever! And if you did say “no” more than likely that would have meant trouble for you when you got home.
The older we got, these ingrained practices caused us to operate as if we were children. As if we had no other option but to agree, i.e. saying “yes”.
That got very old, didn’t it? For one thing, it’s not true that it’s the only option. Another option is to say “no”.
The dilemma of being liked
The dilemma is – How do you say “No” and still be nice, kind and caring? Can you say “No” and still be nice, kind and caring? Can you say “No” and not worry you will stop being liked?
What we are talking about is assertive communication skills; the kind of skills that had you learned in early adolescence, would render you free from balled up guilt-ridden emotions and you’d feel and function like an adult.
Assertiveness feels harsh, setting limits feels rude, and requesting that our needs be met sounds demanding. Some of us don’t believe we have any rights at all.
We feel guilty expressing any needs, if we’re even aware of them. We consider it selfish to act in our self-interest. We may even have been called selfish by a selfish parent or spouse. Our guilt and fear of abandonment may be so strong that we stay in an abusive relationship rather than leave.
Actually, not getting such training is no ones fault. When you think about it – the individuals who trained you, only gave you what they had been given. Being assertive is usually viewed as a healthier communication style.
Being assertive offers many benefits. It helps you keep people from walking all over you. On the flip side, it can also help you from steamrolling others.
Behaving assertively can help you:
- *Gain self-respect, self-confidence and self-esteem
- *Understand and recognize your feelings
- *Earn respect from others
- *Improve communication
- *Create win-win situations
- *Improve your decision-making skills
- *Create honest relationships
- *Gain more job satisfaction
Learning to be more assertive
People tend to stick to the same communication style over time. However, if you want to change your communication style, you can learn to communicate in healthier and more effective ways.
Just call us to join our classes in which you learn to:
- *Assess your style
- *Use ‘I’ statements
- *Practice saying “NO”
- *Rehearse what you want to say
- *Use body language
- *Keep emotions in check
- *Start small
Call today and invite your partners or others to participate. (717) 303-0505.
You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org