Oh God, did it hurt the first time I heard those words.
I was sitting in a room in downtown Vancouver attending my first talk by a “Spiritual Teacher.”
And I was completely enthralled with what she was saying about coming home to ourselves and finding refuge within our own being. I was uplifted and intrigued until she said these frightening seven little words, “Not everyone is going to like you.”
And it felt like my heart, or my sense of self, or my sense that things could ever be alright shattered. Did I clutch my heart and fall to the ground? No, but something inside of me wanted to.
Because wasn’t that the point of my existence? To make sure people liked me.
You see it’s not only the risk of our physical bodies being injured or killed that sends us into fight or flight. For a human being, social isolation is truly a risk. Without our tribe would we be able to survive?
Historically, we wouldn’t have. Even now it would be difficult. So, the fear of not being liked or of being socially ostracized is real.
And that is why that just the thought of not being liked, or being fired or being dumped can instantly send us into a tailspin of fear, despair and shame. And no one wants to feel those things…but some of us are brave enough to feel them anyway.
And for good reason.
Because the risk of losing ourselves, giving up our true, authentic being just to be liked, just to ensure we are included and not left behind may also be riskier then we think.
Think about it—what have you given up lately just to be liked?
So, try saying these seven words out loud to yourself, “Not everyone is going to like me.” How does that feel? If it feels horrible, I would suggest that those seven words just might be the mantra you need.
Here are some steps to take when considering that somebody might not like us:
1. Slow Down Your Breath.
I know, I know. Every article on everything seems to start with the instruction to breathe, but there is a good reason for this. The pace of our breath dictates to our bodies how safe we are. Fast, shallow breathing sends a message of danger. Slow, calming breathing lets our body know it’s safe. So, take a look around. See that in actual fact you’re safe and take a slow, deep breath and know that this is a fantastic first step you’re taking.
2. Watch Your Thoughts.
What we’re really thinking is what is really in control. Maybe you’re thinking “I don’t care if they like me.” But if you pay more attention there could be thoughts such as “What if everyone doesn’t like me?” or “There’s nothing to like about me.” These thoughts can be painful but they’re important. They tell us how we really feel about ourselves. Thinking we might be socially isolated and not the just not being liked—that is the true source of our stress.
3. Acknowledge That Not Everything is About Us.
The fact is, we really don’t know what’s going on for anybody else. Maybe the person is just having a bad day—they got some bad news, or they’re feeling sick. Sometimes we just don’t know what’s going on for other people.
What I’m trying to say is not everything is about us. It’s not our responsibility to make everyone like us and in fact we need to honor that everyone is having their own experiences so we can go ahead and have our own. By freeing ourselves from the need to be liked, we free others from having to make us feel approved. A win-win situation, really.
4. Inquire: What Am I really?
Alright—maybe I’m getting a little into la-la-land here. But it’s a worthwhile practice to contemplate what we really are. This body? These clothes? This career? Our relationships? Is what we portray on the outside the end-all and be-all of our beingness?
If we dig a little deeper, we might see that maybe there is more. A vibration? A song? A knowing? Maybe there’s something more and maybe this something more doesn’t need to be liked by anyone. Maybe it just is.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman