A wise voice simply once said to me, “Susie, stop trying to get people to like you.” I don’t even remember what the discussion was about—I imagine I was retelling a story about what happened that day at work, or how a friend, family member, or fellowman “disapproved” of me in some way which left a shitty feeling because someone displayed feelings of not liking me. I remember feeling ashamed hearing that statement because I never realized other people noticed that specific one, of my many, great flaws. I also had always prided myself on being a nonconformist who didn’t care whether people liked me or not. But there it was, said, out in the open, a statement floating there that must be explored.
Stop trying to get people to like you.
I often hear that voice in my head reciting that provocative statement. I remember emailing the wise voice and admitting I had been ashamed of the realization. I wrote that I never considered myself approval seeking before and I was bothered that it was brought to the surface. I spent a lot of time pondering my approval seeking behavior. In my eyes, it was subtle, never overtly trying to get people to like me by doing such idiotic things as bringing arm loads of doughnuts to the office on a daily basis or something to that over-the-top sort. But opinions did matter. And of course, being human, they sometimes still do. But I no longer feel shame because I’m more cognizant of my thoughts and the unhealthy behavior that may ensue. And why should I be ashamed of my flaws? I realize they make me who I am, and honestly, that’s really not that bad.
I am a human being filled with love, compassion, integrity, respect, honesty, and dignity, yet I make mistakes, big and small, and that’s okay, because I need to learn from them in order to prosper in the future.
Looking towards the future is my new focus. If people don’t like me-—I’m okay with that. What other people think doesn’t ultimately matter in my life. Life is what I choose to make of it, how I choose to live it, and only I can control thoughts about how I feel about myself. I refuse to be a prisoner.
Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife and it will be blunt.
Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.