We all want to be liked. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be admired, approved of and praised. Or is there?
Well, it really depends on how badly you crave the admiration, approval and praise of other people, and how far you’re willing to go to get the satisfaction you need. But do you still think that the satisfaction is worth any of your effort or energy once you’ve taken the following reasons into consideration?
1. People will believe what they want to believe
Dita Von Teese said: ‘You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.’
Let’s say you’re a peach that desperately wants to be eaten by someone in particular. However, no matter how delicious, tempting and just plain irresistible you make yourself appear; this particular person won’t even take a bite out of you, let alone eat you, and you have no idea why.
Are you doing something wrong? Could it be because you are not trying hard enough? Maybe if you were slightly riper you might appear more tempting? Well, what you might not know is that the person you’re trying to get eaten by believes that peaches are the root of all evil, and avoids them of all costs, no matter how delicious they may be.
You see, human beings generally have set prejudices (however ridiculous) about certain things that are hard to change, no matter how much of an effort you make. It is impossible to know exactly what people are thinking, let alone why they’re thinking it.
Although you may be able to influence people’s thoughts with your words or actions, you can only do so up to a certain point. You can never have total control over anyone’s thoughts, no matter how hard you try. So why would you even waste your time bothering to do so?
2. What people think of you is none of your business
The more you care about people’s opinion, the more their opinion is going to affect you. If your core belief is based on what other people think, their opinions will eventually become your reality. Do you really want to mould yourself into people’s impression of you? Do you really want to make people’s expectations your priority? Do you want to unconsciously be setting yourself limits based on people’s opinion of you?
People are completely free to think what they want about you, just like you are completely free to think what you want about them. And just like what you think is no one else’s business but yours, what other people think is no one else’s business but theirs – even if it is about you.
3. People don’t care nearly as much as you think they do
You are going to be gossiped about, you are going to be judged and you are going to be criticized – especially if you are lucky enough to be a super interesting and popular person. But the thing is that no matter how much people may gossip about you, judge you, or criticize you, we are all pretty self-centered, whether we admit it or not.
It may not necessarily be in a bad or selfish way, but we do tend to give a great deal of importance to ourselves. So the probability is that while you’re busy worrying about what they think of you, they are too busy worrying about themselves to give you any real importance at all.
4. You don’t need anyone’s approval
Being liked, being admired and being praised feels incredible. Gaining someone’s approval through something you’ve done or said is a really great feeling. But since you cannot control anyone’s thoughts, it will eventually drive you insane.
Well, you know what? You don’t need approval as much as you think you do. While being liked feels amazing, what feels even better is being able to accept the fact that some people are going to dislike you no matter what, and being absolutely okay with it because you couldn’t care less.
Back to the peach example; people who may absolutely adore peaches may one day start liking them less or absolutely disliking them the next day, and people who absolutely hate peaches may start to absolutely adore them – and you have practically no control over any of this. So whatever you do, do it for yourself.
If people like you better, admire you more and praise you a whole lot due to something you’ve done for yourself, take it as a bonus. Just don’t be a slave to people’s approval. Approval is addictive, and you might very well end up losing yourself in the process of constantly searching for it.
5. The people who mind don’t matter and the people who matter don’t mind
There is something about people who dislike you that makes you want to make them like you even more. There is something about people who disapprove of you that makes you want their approval even more badly. Maybe it’s the challenge, maybe you just want to prove them wrong – whatever it is, it’s an endless cycle. Once you impress one person, you’re going to want another person’s approval, and once you get that person’s approval you’re going to want to make some other person like you and so on.
Why bother with them when there are people who like you, and will continue to like you just the way you are? Sometimes we are so focused on people who don’t matter that we end up neglecting the people who do. These are people who are going to support you, care about you and be there for you no matter what. These are people who make you feel good, people you’re comfortable around and don’t need to impress. Figure out who these people are and focus on them instead.
Now, by all means, not caring doesn’t mean becoming an incredibly rude, insensitive and incredibly egoistic person who does whatever they please, because they couldn’t care less about anything or anyone. Wave your hands around all you like, but just make sure you don’t hit anyone – or at least not intentionally! We do, after all, live in a society, and sometimes we actually do need people to tell us that we’ve crossed the line or that we’ve gone too far.
The idea isn’t to stop caring completely – it’s to stop caring enough to be able to make your own decisions based on your priorities, your values and your ambitions and not other people’s opinions.