Trying to Please Everyone

by | May 7, 2003 | Psychology & Living

Q: How can I overcome the problem of wanting everybody to like me? A: Imagine for a moment that you were liked by everyone. This would most certainly mean that you’re doing something wrong. Why? Because it would be impossible to please everyone. People, first of all, disagree on fundamental premises and beliefs. Secondly, even […]

Q: How can I overcome the problem of wanting everybody to like me?

A: Imagine for a moment that you were liked by everyone. This would most certainly mean that you’re doing something wrong. Why? Because it would be impossible to please everyone.

People, first of all, disagree on fundamental premises and beliefs.

Secondly, even people who agree on fundamental principles will disagree on all kinds of matters related to optional preference, or less fundamental issues than principles.

People disagree on all kinds of things—even when they share, say, the exact same philosophical beliefs. If everyone liked and agreed with you, then it would mean you’re trying to be what another person wants–situation by situation–and that you had no consistent self. It would mean that you’re trying to clone yourself into whomever you happen to be with in the moment. It would mean you lack integrity.

It might be that you have a good amount of integrity, and as a result you are finding that some like you and some don’t. Your mind automatically tells you, “Someone seems not to like me. PROBLEM!!” in the form of the unpleasant emotions you feel. So one thing you need to do is remind yourself, “If somebody doesn’t like me, it’s more likely that I’m doing something RIGHT than something wrong.”

Of course, somebody could dislike you because of something you did, in fact, do wrong– something that you agree is wrong, and not merely because they happen to disapprove. I’m not saying you should lose objectivity. I’m simply saying that you have to counter that “Uh, oh! PROBLEM!” response in your mind with something powerful in reply, such as: “If someone not liking me means anything, it’s probably that I’m doing something right. It probably means I’m being myself. And not everyone will like that. It’s not only tolerable not to be liked by everyone. It’s a good thing.”

As a positive exercise, I recommend that you spend more time thinking about what you’re doing well, by your own standards. Constructively criticize yourself too, when warranted. Write it all down at the end of each day. But never let someone else’s rejection of you (nor your mere perception of their rejection of you) be the standard. Writing this all down each day will help you internalize a new standard to replace the current one of other people determining your overall value as a person.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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