I’m writing this because I need to. Not necessarily because I want to, although I also want to.
This topic of being liked isn’t discussed enough. Like most things that are uncomfortable to address, I think this is a quiet killer of freedom and liberation, mostly for women.
I see it in the circles of some men too, but a lot of men tend to be more direct, so there’s a lot less passivity or trying to protect the feelings of other guys – they rarely have to worry about that with each other. I’m not saying it isn’t present – I’m suggesting it’s not as prominent of an issue.
I believe, when it comes to women, a great great majority of us were raised to “be nice” to everyone, no matter what, at all costs, even if it comes at the expense of ourselves – our values, our desires, etc. And we have now taken that mentality into our work, into our relationships, and into our decisions.
Just whatever the heck you do – be nice. Protect. Don’t tell people what they need to hear – tell them what they want to hear, even if you feel in your heart you’re lying. Do not stir the pot. Do not ruffle feathers. Do not rock the boat. And go whether you want to or not. Be nice!
And yes, I’m aware this is a sensitive subject and not everyone will agree with my viewpoint, but I can’t tread lightly either. It needs to be discussed.
I do want to preface 4 really important points by saying this: I’m not an advocate of being bitchy just because you can (or really, at all since assertiveness isn’t the same). I’m also not “anti-nice”. What I am suggesting in this post, and what I’d like to see more of in women, is releasing the addiction to being liked, so that we never actually become a leader (of ourselves OR others). In other words, instead of giving others their way ALL the time, maybe we more selectively pick our battles.
When it matters to honor what’s at stake, we will, no matter what – no matter who we lose.
Yes, there will be times where it better serves all in the room to take the nice approach. But I want us to stop doing it out of habit and choose it when it’s appropriate. I don’t want to keep seeing this be our “default.”
It isn’t serving us in our businesses, our classrooms where our girls learn, or our relationships. We will continue to see it in generation after generation until we call attention to it.
Again, we can have both compassion and assertiveness – they aren’t mutually exclusive from each other.
Here are 4 root things attached to being liked:
#1: The Addiction to Being Liked is Rooted in Safety/Security
This is not a judgement – it’s just simply a true statement. If we break down the actual “need” to be liked at a core level – a psychological level, it will reveal this as the root. Even saying “well maybe I just like to like everyone”, my question would be “why?” Why is it important to like everyone or have everyone like you? Why is that a high value for you?
Safety & security is something all humans want. It’s part of our humanity to want to feel safe. We want to find a partner that makes us feel safe to be ourselves. We want to know we have money coming in and can pay our bills. We want our car to start when we go outside to turn it on. We want our cell phones to work every day. We want safety & security – it’s natural.
I’m merely suggesting that since this safety is something we need or cling to, being liked is easily something women also cater to, since it’s rooted there. “I can’t have anyone not liking me nor can I ruffle any feathers, because if I do, I’m left vulnerable or I might lose their friendship. And there goes my safety.”
Taking from one of my favorite spiritual and life teachers online, Byron Katie, I would ask us, “is that true?”
How “safe” is a relationship where we have to worry about this in the first place? Is it, in fact, safe for us? Enough that we are willing to leave our values behind to honor them and have their like?
How safe is a relationship if all it takes for the other person to bail is to ruffle their feathers a little?
The answer is that it’s not – it’s not safe at all. So by continuing to have the person’s like, in this scenario, we rarely cultivate the respect needed to sustain the relationship, which leads me to my next discovery…
#2: Respect & Like Are Two Different Things
Oh, how I wish we could more often make this distinction. Respect is a mature level of appreciation for difficult situations, less than favorable conditions and unpopular decisions. It can accurately recognize when something has transpired that’s appropriate, whether it likes it or not.
Like is purely based on emotion and feeling and the “visible”.
A great example of respect is people who are maturely able to support the teaching of another person they may not always agree with – who are able to support the things they do agree with and honor that space.
Understanding the difference between these is the only way you can have both. And you can have both. It is possible to like and respect someone.
#3: The Addiction to Being Liked is a Leadership Conversation
As long as you and I are more satisfied being liked than respected, we are followers, not leaders. I love how Alice Walker said, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
I believe a lot of women don’t take up the causes they care about because of a lack of acknowledgement of their own power. I’m obsessed with helping women understand the hidden power they hold – because it’s different for each of us. And until we understand it, we can’t operate in it.
If we’re going to talk about being liked as an addiction, then we also have to give attention to the leadership conversation and the implications it will have on future generations who will also have the propensity to follow instead of lead.
I understand having followers as well as leaders makes the world go ’round, but leading others isn’t the whole conversation – self-leadership is a courageous feat all its own, and it requires the same high-level set of leadership skills managing others requires.
A lot of people vicariously lead others while leading themselves. You’d be surprised by how many people are growing and learning, simply by watching your life.
#4: The Addiction to Being Liked is Connected to A Fear of Feedback
Ah, feedback. Something we usually don’t want unless we ask for it, and some people aren’t mature enough to receive.
Because it requires leadership. Which thrives in being respected. And doesn’t always need to feel safe.
Sometimes, we desire to be liked a lot so that we never have to hear back anything we might not want to give attention to (or change). And more often than not, what we usually fear will come back to us in the form of feedback that would expose us and maybe cast us out of the “like” circle. (There’s that safety/security thing we talked about again).
So the addiction to being liked is cultivated on the grounds of no ruffling of any feathers, being a “yes” person and clinching all of our relationships in a tight fist instead of maturely nurturing them and giving them space to expand.
I personally like people who will tell me how it is! People who won’t always tell me what I want to hear. I’m not a fan of “yes men” and I don’t want you to be either. I don’t want us to be too addicted to being liked and therefore, scared to address things other people may see that we don’t.
Here’s something: The less you grow with others, the more you go with others.
Meaning, the more you just go along with things and want everyone to nod up and down at your ideas or opinions with no real feedback, the less you are actually growing the self that’s involved in self-expression.
This week, try to be a little less attached to being liked and try your own experiments with these – I think you’ll be really surprised at how free you feel! And if you want to share anything, lets get down with it in the comments.
All my love & appreciation,