Powerful Questions Podcast: Why do you need to be liked?
Updated: Oct 11, 2020
Did you ever notice yourself doing something that you didn’t want to do, just to please someone else?
Did you ever notice yourself being worried about how your competence, your appearance or your behavior will be judged by others?
Did you ever wonder where this need of being liked is coming from?
Well, we need other people. For thousands of years human beings relied on collaboration with each other to survive, strive and succeed in life. So it became an instinct, and it is hard not to follow it. Being linked by other people has many benefits that you notice immediately - you get support, people are friendly towards you and you feel more sense of belonging. So if it’s so nice to be liked by others, why are we even talking about this?
Well, as always, it’s a question of balance. Do you want to be liked so much, that you consistently put other people’s interests above yours? If you do, you risk spending your whole life focusing on what other people want, and not what you want. You risk getting lost in the everyday things that need to get done (for others) instead of doing what will bring you to what YOU want to achieve in the long term.
So ask yourself: why do you need to be liked? And what will happen if you are not liked by every person you meet? If you really honestly answer yourself this question, the answer is usually – it will not be the end of the world. Of course it depends on a person that doesn’t like you. If it's a random person on a bus, it doesn’t matter at all. If it’s your colleague, your life at work could be a bit less pleasant. If it’s your boss, it might become miserable. But really: is it the only job in the world?
The truth is, whether other people like you or not has often more to do with them than with you. The reactions other people have to you are based on a whole lot of experiences, beliefs and preferences that they have. They might not like you because you remind them of a horrible teacher they once had. They might not like you because they notice their own shortcomings in you. They might not like you because they envy you. There can be any number of reasons.
But, what they think is what they think. It does not mean they are right. And it does not mean that YOU should care what THEY think.
It is up to you what qualities in yourself you really value, what you consider your strength. It is up to you where you want to develop. It is up to you to decide how you want to live, act, think and feel. We all decide in our own lives.
So the next time you notice yourself agreeing to something you don’t want to do just to be liked, reflect on the situation, and take time to think. Is this person really worth that? Are they so important in your life? Already with this question, you would probably decide in 95% of the cases against whatever it was you were going to do.
The next question you should ask yourself: Will this person stop liking or loving you if you don’t do this one thing? And here again, in most cases the answer is no. Because people close to us, people who love us will continue doing so without you continuously pleasing them while hurting yourself.
And the last and most important question I want you to ask yourself is: Are you staying true to yourself if you do this? If it’s a small favor that doesn’t mean much to you, it’s one thing. But doing something that goes against your beliefs is another thing. And you never have to be forced to do that just to please someone.
And the best way in my opinion to stop pleasing others is to really get to know yourself. If you know what YOU want, what your objectives in life are, what your priorities are, what you like and don’t like, you will be less likely to be steered into another direction by someone. Stay on your own path!