Why It’s Okay Not To Be Liked

August 31, 2018

It can happen in an instant. You just know that someone doesn’t like you. What is your response? Move beyond your 100%, spot-on accurate intuitive assessment of this and begin trying sell how  great you really are? Behaviours can range from straight sucking up and empty compliments. We’ve all done it. Or you can go with that gut and save time and breathe by walking away from that someone who doesn’t get you.

Knowing you are disliked can often be an uncomfortable feeling.  It can happen between stranger or with friends. Those times when a ‘friend’ has flipped the switch on you.  Where you find out what they really think of you. All the labels come out. Accusations fly, and truths are told, forever released into the world and unable to stuffed back into the box. What stings can be several things.  A friendship no longer. Hurt by someone else’s honesty. Feeling betrayed. Thinking that someone doesn’t like who you really are.

If you subscribe to the ‘honesty is the best policy’ then there is a plus side from this terrible situation. You find out your friendship is based on some shaky form of co-dependence.  You’re no longer wearing those rose-coloured glasses. And now you can cut ties and move on. Bottom line is that good friends take you as you come. Losing someone who doesn’t respect you is a win I say.

As women we tend to have a default mechanism, embedded when we were at an age where it was all sugar and spice, where we learned the so-called rewards of being liked.  Slowly becoming part of our persona, we learn to smile at the right time, not rock the boat and put our supposed paranoid grievances to one side. This approach is like a coma of sorts.  It usually stays at play throughout out teenage years and our twenties. It begins to shake (hopefully) in our thirties. By our forties and more fortified by our trek to our own authenticity, we take stock and realise that making people happy by acquiescing to their needs instead of our own only seeks to leave us empty.  

The journey to not being liked doesn’t have to come from an argument.  Sometimes just breathing in someone else’s presence is enough. Not everyone is going to like you.  You’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. Just accept that. Move on. Find others with whom you share values and interest.  Importantly, find people who accept you for all your beautiful traits as well as your quirks, annoying or otherwise.

It’s the same minefield in business.  Sometimes it’s worse. Saying no to something isn’t wholly accepted.  Aren’t women meant to solve things? Be able to roll with the punches?  Do what they are told within the boundaries of their job? Having to work with someone who you don’t like but you keep the peace. Hell no.  Many of us bob around in our paid fields smiling our faces off, nodding in agreement, just to keep the oil on the water. Or to simply keep our jobs.  It’s one thing not to be liked by people on the street but it’s another to be disliked at work.

Work places have a tendency of expecting people to do exactly what they say.  Yes works so much better than no. This can include agreeing to things that go against your principles and experience.  If you’re doing hours in any job where you’re struggling with what you’re being asked to do or think then it’s time to look elsewhere.  Who cares what people think once you leave? Go out in the world. Don’t be held back because people may not like how you’ve responded to their rules.  Find a workplace where you can contribute wholeheartedly and bring a positive vibe to your working week. In the words of Keith Partridge, ‘Come on, get happy’.

Then there’s family.  The place where change is often difficult, and acceptance has its rules, much like work.  Families tend to operate in a set of often generational, historical behaviours which everyone quietly adheres to.  To step outside of these brings names such as ‘black sheep’ or ‘know-it-all’. Feel free to add you own in here. I’ve had both my parents say to me, ‘You think you’re better than everyone else’, more than once throughout my life.  I honestly don’t think I am. But I definitely KNOW who I am and rather than be liked I’ll continue to put my money on being the best version of myself every time.

The anxiety of feeling you need to make everyone happy all the time can be overwhelming.  Not for a minute am I advocating being intentionally mean or being unable to apologise for when you have wronged someone. But bring this into perspective by looking first to what makes you a happy person.  Understand that in this big world people aren’t going to think you’re the greatest each and every time. Staying focused on why people don’t like you simply takes you away from doing things which fulfil and enrich you.

By letting the expectation go, by not taking it so personally, you can go a long towards focusing on the things that matter more to you.  Like your own peacefulness and wellbeing, and those beautiful people who fill your life and cherish you for who you are. Learn that it’s ok not to be liked. Releasing yourself from those invisible binds will be the best thing you’ve ever done.

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Libby Fordham
Writer, thinker, creator – Libby is interested in the things that make the world turn. She loves to explore modern life, its ironies, complexities and culture. She is currently writing her first book while also juggling a business, her art and her family.