During a recent discussion a good friend confided to me he frequently does things that go against his own desires in order to please those around him.
He qualified this statement by explaining it is so important to him to be liked by others that he will frequently go along with their thoughts ideas and suggestions even when those very actions are in conflict with what he would like to do, and even in some cases when those actions are in conflict with his values.
His need to be liked is so powerful, he confessed, that it is at the forefront of many of the decisions he makes. He often thinks through the consequences of decisions he’s about to make in order to select the decision that will most endear him to those around him.
Not only does he have this enormous need to be liked but, he is also so conflict-averse that he will do the same things – go against his own desires and, on occasion his own values – in order to avoid conflict.
I clearly understand his strong need to be liked. I think to one degree or another we all have this desire and indeed, my experience has been that those who most loudly proclaim that they don’t care what others think about them tend to do so in the very hope that their bravado will cover their strong need to be liked.
The challenge with needing to be liked is this: We have absolutely no influence over with whether others like us or not. We can’t make people like us.
I want all of you to like me. I can write nice things about you in my blogs, say nice things about you to others, send you flowers, candy, chocolates, birthday cards and lavish gifts in the hope that my actions will influence your feelings towards me and yet this effort brings forth no assurance that you will in fact like me.
My highly unscientific research has led me to the conclusion that the strong need in some of us to be liked by others tends to stems from an equally strong dislike of who we perceive ourselves to be.
A need to mask our own sense of our own shortcomings.
It is my belief that the harder we work to seek the approval of others, the less energy we need to expend on our own sense of self which is frequently harsh and critical.
We’re asking others to do our jobs for us – to do the very thing we have difficulty doing for ourselves – liking who we are.
In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Polonius had this to say: “This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.”
Each time we compromise our ideals and push aside our values in order to please others we are not being true to ourselves. And each time we do that, we like ourselves a little bit less.
Who we truly are is defined solely by who we are choosing to become.
We become every single thing we believe to be true of ourselves. If we believe ourselves to be shy, reserved and introverted, that’s exactly who we will become. If we believe ourselves to be confident and outgoing, voilà – we are.
All of this means each of us has chosen to be exactly who we are today and if who we are today is not who we wish to be tomorrow then right now – this very moment – is the perfect time for each of us to choose a different us.
We are – and always have been – everything we believe to be true of ourselves. If we wish to be different we need to establish new beliefs that are consistent with a new set of behaviors and that new set of behaviors must at all times be congruent with who we wish to become.
Many erroneously believe that Popeye spoke for us all when he proclaimed “I yam what I yam” and that he was telling us to accept ourselves as who we are because that is what it is.
I spoke with Popeye recently and he shook his head sadly when he explained that people “just don’t listen.” He explained that only half of his statement that has been quoted and what he really said was “I yam what I yam, because this is who I choose to be”
He blamed the confusion on incompetent spin(ach) doctors.
Many years ago a wise sage advised us to, “exercise wisely your power of choice.”
Not liking ourselves is seldom a wise choice.
If, starting right now, we begin to focus on liking ourselves, and taking action consistent with those thoughts, we will quickly discover that liking ourselves requires far less effort than the consistent need for energy required to try and make others like us.
As an energy conservationist I am all for this.
Till we read again.
P.S. In my blog last week I issued a 90 Day Challenge to those brave enough to commit to reawakening long-forsaken goals, those who have set out to change themselves and have slipped off the pathway and those who have spent years “waiting for the right time.”
Well, beginning tomorrow, September 1, 2013, I, along with 67 brave souls, begin this 90 Day adventure that will culminate on my birthday, November 30.
Here is a brief list of what we are striving for:
Thirty-four of us are committing to healthier lives;
Eight are headed back to school to complete long abandoned courses.
Seven are committing 30 minutes, or more, each day to acquiring new language skills;
Six readers are committed to never smoking again;
Five have committed to joining Toastmasters clubs in their areas in order to overcome their fears and become confident speakers.
Three committed to abstaining from alcohol for the entire period.
Two are determined to turn off their TV’s for this period and acquire the greatest gift available – the habit of reading. (One of the folks confided in me that the first book he reads during this period will also be the first book he had read since graduating in 1981);
Two enrolled in my new “Boot Camp for Your Brain” Coaching experience.
One extremely brave person, in consultation with their family doctor, confronted his own reality and is flying off to enter a drug rehab facility on Tuesday morning.
Congratulations to all. Our new lives are only one day away.
There is still time for you to join in. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your 90 Day commitment.
– My book Life Sinks or Soars – the Choice is Yours now has its very own website. Please visit us at www.lifesinksorsoars.com and let me know what you think.
– P.S. Here is our Ebrochure for the “Boot Camp for Your Brain” experience.
– I have recently completed a series of radio interviews. If you would like to listen to them, here is a link.
I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or suggestions once you have listened to the interviews. Please contact me at email@example.com and share your thoughts.
– Robert French – an accomplished author – recently posted a flattering review of my book, Life Sinks or Soars, the Choice is Yours. Please click here and take a moment to read it.
– Here is another review of my book by Actionable Books.