There’s nothing inherently wrong with wanting to be liked by people. In fact, everyone seeks some sort of validation from others. The problem arises when this validation starts to become a necessity. The course of your life shouldn’t be dictated by the approval of others, nor should you lose sleep over their opinions.
If you struggle with a need to be liked, there’s a few things you can do to dispel those feelings and get back to focusing on more important matters.
1. Stay Busy
Remaining idle for extended periods of time allows our thoughts to wander to some unpleasant places, such as worrying too much about what other people think. Fortunately, our brains have a limited capacity when it comes to processing thoughts. This makes it possible to divert our attention away from ideas that don’t serve our best interests and replace them with more productive ruminations. A healthy distraction can come in the form of getting lost in a book, playing a sport, or engaging in any activity that requires your undivided attention. It’s a lot harder to dwell on what people think of you when you’re busy living your life.
2. Mind Your Judgement of Others
As humans, we’re constantly projecting our inner monologues onto those we come across. Because of this, a person who makes harsh judgments of other people is more likely to be insecure about how those people view them in return. This is not to say you are obligated to like everyone you meet, but being overly critical of people could lead you to feel that they are harboring similar thoughts about you. We could all benefit from looking at one another through a more empathetic lens, so it’s best to judge others how you would want to be judged. Your peace of mind may even depend on it!
3. Practice Self-Acceptance
To fully put an end to the constant search for external validation, you will need to find confidence through self-acceptance. When at peace with yourself, the need to be liked ceases to be a burden. Finding inner peace may sound like an unattainable goal, but it can be achieved by taking pride in your strengths and learning to forgive your weaknesses.
Doing so creates the single best defense against the potentially hurtful opinions of others: a positive self-image. If you’re someone who struggles in this area, try to come up with at least two commendable attributes that you possess for each shortcoming. This will help teach you to recognize your worth as a person with or without anyone else’s approval.
4. Socialize More
This probably sounds intimidating to someone who already puts too much stock in what other people think. More social interaction means more room for worry, right? Surprisingly, this isn’t always the case. Putting yourself out there can be an excellent form of exposure therapy. For the unfamiliar, exposure therapy is when someone exposes themselves to the source of their fear in hopes of desensitizing themselves from similar occurrences in the future.
In this instance, the exposure would involve allowing yourself to be vulnerable in front of people and thus opening yourself up to criticism. This will build a strong backbone against similar feelings of being judged later down the road.
“To be vulnerable, to really put yourself out there, and lean into it, is to live courageously.” – Brené Brown
5. Be Realistic
Above all, it’s imperative that you stay grounded in reality. The fact is that no matter how hard you try, there will always be people who don’t like you. The world’s population is far too nuanced for any one person to appease everyone. Despite sounding like a harsh truth, this can be somewhat comforting to those struggling with acceptance issues. Once you realize that someone’s opinion of you is largely out of your control, a lot of the pressure you feel to be liked by them can be removed from the equation. Since the responsibility no longer rests solely on your shoulders, it becomes easier to let go of these worries.
If we attempt to please everyone, we’re only setting ourselves up for failure. Furthermore, the time spent trying to win someone over is time you can never get back. When you devote your life to contemplating whether people like you or not, it denies you of the chance to truly live freely and reach your full potential. Luckily, this way of thinking can be overcome with a little effort and some self-assurance. By having the right mindset, ignoring the critics can feel like second nature.