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