do you like me? do you? huh? huh?


Remember *Sally Field’s Oscar acceptance speech? and what many found treacly enough to cringe at? I suspect it could’ve been her gigantically eager need to be liked.

I don’t find the moniker “likeable” a compliment. Passionate, fun, kind, dramatic, upbeat, creative, serious…those have meaning. Likable?? What does that say; that anyone can like you? Is that something to aspire to?

Here are two of the few axioms I gave my kids: Don’t throw a rock and hide your hand and If everyone likes you, you’re doing something wrong. Not that I was suggesting they deliberately rankle others but people-pleasing/brown-nosing wouldn’t have been honoring their Selves.

Needing to be liked thwarts us from showing our whole selves to others. That dysfunctionally emotional unfulfillable hole drives us to abandon or exile the “unacceptable” parts. The distorted, rearranged version we present to the world may fool others into thinking we’ve got it all together for awhile but, honestly, I think the only one fooled is us.

If you can’t see your Self except in the reflection of others, your mirror is not your own. You won’t even recognize your face. Toddlers are better at being true to themselves than most adults and at their tender ages their brains are designed to surrender authority to others in order to learn. Isn’t it possible that the bible verse, Become as little children, might mean transparently inhabiting our unabridged self while simultaneously owning our adult power?

Refusing to be the main character in your own life renders you ineffectual for genuine change or authentic connection. If you unmindfully take cues from others to determine your next move, thought, “feeling,” that means that your self-worth will be elusively and eternally out of your control and will be tied to what someone else ignorantly decides about you. You’ll adjust your behavior to be likable and as a result you’ll consciously or subconsciously feel like a sham, robbing yourself of the opportunity to bring your unique power to the world. That leads to failed relationships, addiction, depression, rage, narcissism, victimhood (in yourself or in others)…and a myriad of other social ills.

The truth is that we don’t need everyone to like us, but we do need a select few people to love us, to actually see us, to truly know us. If we won’t reveal our unmitigated self to others, then how can they truly receive us?

Ultimately though, the only person you really need to like you is YOU and that only happens when you’re authentically YOURSELF not some knock-off designed to be “likeable.”

*no criticism of Ms. Field or her exuberance intended

neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering ~ carl jung

As a counselor, I usually have compassion for the variety of coping mechanisms people use. But with Cognitive Dissonance—that’s trickier. In short, it’s believing one thing yet doing the reverse; it’s the reality between who we are and who we think we are. I find it a fancier name for denial, for lying, for hypocrisy, for delusion. Translation: the client doesn’t want to do the necessary work.

When most of us confront opposing wants, we have two choices: change our conduct for inner alignment to achieve integrity, or alter our attitudes and rationalize our behavior. Unfortunately, many are more prone to do the latter.

It’s “uncomfortable” to bring fantasy and reality together because suddenly it’s obvious what needs to be done and these depressing realizations mean we have a lot of work to do. Worse, we might have to face the fact that our “designs” are unfeasible. We might have to make an integris choice! We might feel pain! Yes, we will. Growth only happens in the land of reality.

Some examples: to be anti-birth control and yet pronounce abortion a sin, to believe in the sanctity of a glob of cells within a women’s body and yet adamantly endorse the death penalty, to be a vegetarian but eat chicken—poof! sleight of mind—conflict resolved. You no longer see it.

Unfortunately, I can, and so do most others. Cognitive Dissonance does reconcile our mind’s discomfort with incompatible thoughts and actions, but in a magical thinking kind of way. We hate to have our inconsistencies pointed out and will attempt all kinds of mental contortions to avoid them. Still, there’s a perverted leap over the truth. And a lot of secrecy, too.

This often occurs in marital affairs, where those involved are adrift in their created fantasies and fabricate a chimera rather than deal with the reality of their lives, their choices. Feels pretty immature and, honestly, spineless.

Because whatever you’re not dealing with, you’re passing on to someone else. Whether you intend to or not. See: now we’re cooking with gas(lighting). One of the major principles I taught my kids: If you throw a rock, don’t hide your hand. This meant they had to line their actions up with their thoughts and articulately stand by them. It taught them critical thinking skills which make it harder to inhabit the land of delusion. I respected my kids and their choices even if I sometimes disagreed with their “rock throwing.” Why? Because, at whatever age or stage of development, their intention was aligned with their whole Self.

I understand the need for resolution, I do. But I believe in conscience, too. Since when do people who compartmentalize not know what they’re doing? They do, and then they lie. To themselves, and to us.

“do you believe what you’re sayin’? yeah right now, but not that often.”

…so says Modest Mouse, nailing his generation’s main failing, IMHO: capriciousness.

It’s not what people pronounce they stand for that I value, it’s what they actually do. And not just “right now,” but consistently. You can’t expect others to trust and believe in you, if you abandon your convictions whenever they get slightly burdensome or you compromise when you’re afraid or lackadaisical.

How many people do you know who fervently state that they’re vegetarians or never eat sugar until they’re at a potluck or restaurant with little options, those who say they only eat organic and local but usually shop at Slave-way cause it’s near their house, denounce spanking but slap their children for “talking back” or maintain that we should speak calmly with kids but scream at them for spilling their juice or coming home late?

The truth of trust lives in your actions, dependable actions. This is what makes those around you feel secure. Holding to one’s principles doesn’t mean doing so only when convenient; it’s the opposite. Courage isn’t undertaking difficult things, it’s undertaking difficult things while holding hands with your fear.

You don’t have to be perfect but you can’t be “consistently inconsistent” and call yourself integris. To be “gently” principled doesn’t have to signify fickleness only that you aren’t dogmatic or expect others to live as you do. Still, that should be the rarity, not the norm. As Oscar Wilde says, “Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”

Personal inauthenticity is a fatal disease; it kills you one day at a time. If you say you’re going to do something, follow through. Stand on your beliefs—don’t throw a rock and hide your hand. Do what you do with passion, integrity and pluck!