Overcoming the Need to be Liked

Need to be liked
Please like me, please like me…

I know a four-word sentence that has the power to get a negative response out of almost anyone who hears it.

Are you ready for it? Brace yourself, because it might sting a little:

“I don’t like you.”

Ouch.

See? It hurts, doesn’t it?

For years and years, I did anything humanly possible to avoid having those four words directed at me. Believe me, I’m still a work in progress, but I’ve come a long way from being the guy who desperately needed to be liked in order to be happy.

If you’re currently someone who has a desperate need to be liked by others, get comfortable because this blog post is for you.

Recognizing the Problem

As many of you already know, I’m a recovering people-pleaser who used to be incapable of saying “no” to other people.

What you might not know is that I also struggled mightily to overcome my need to be liked by other people.

The key word in that sentence is: Need.

It’s perfectly okay to want to be liked by other people. I will always want to be liked by other people, and I’m sure 99.9% of the people reading this will agree with that too. Given the choice, who in their right mind would rather be disliked than liked?

That’s a no-brainer for me.

But we’re not talking about wanting to be liked.

The problem comes when we need to be liked in order to be happy. Once it becomes a need, we’ll do all sorts of crazy things to fill that bottomless pit of craving acceptance in order to feel whole.

Trust me, I’m speaking from recent experience on this one. Case in point:

When I launched The Positivity Solution, I committed myself to writing about hard-hitting topics that you wouldn’t see on most positivity blogs (e.g., dealing with toxic people, staying in the moment, workplace bullying, developing resiliency, etc.) 

I promised myself that I would always write from a place of passion, and I proudly declared that I would never hold anything back.

Well, that commitment didn’t last very long.

Recently, I wrote one of my favorite blog posts ever, called “What You Allow.”

It was an in-your-face, call-to-action type of blog post intended for people who were allowing themselves to be treated a like doormats by others in their lives.

It was well-received…for the most part.

After I posted it, I received angry emails from readers saying that my blog post made them feel guilty, pissed off, or worse. Some people actually unsubscribed from my blog after reading it.

I was crushed. Even worse, my “need to be liked” by everyone made me compound the problem by breaking my commitment to myself.

Specifically, I removed the blog post from my site, and started writing watered-down blog posts in hopes of not upsetting anyone ever again.

Pitiful, right? It actually gets worse.

After I removed that blog post, I noticed a disturbing pattern in other areas of my life.

There was a guy in my neighborhood who would never acknowledge my “hello” or “good morning” attempts. Instead of just dismissing it and letting it go, I became obsessed with getting him to say hello to me. Each time that he ignored me day after day, I felt like a piece of my soul died.

If I gave a presentation to 100 people and 98 of those people absolutely loved it, it barely meant anything. The only people who I would obsess over were the two people who were completely disinterested. A 98% approval rating was the same as a 0% approval rating in my eyes.

If 100% of people didn’t like me, then what was the point?

That’s when it finally hit me.

I needed everyone to like me in order to be happy.

The good news is that I finally recognized the problem.

The bad news is that this was a very serious problem that needed to be dealt with quickly.

The Worst Sacrifice

The saddest part of “needing to be liked” are the countless sacrifices you’ll have to make in the attempt to reach the impossible goal of being universally liked.

Here are some things that I’ve sacrificed in my life:

  • In college, I sat in silence as I watched my friends tease and ridicule a girl with Down Syndrome.
  • I broke up with a girl who I really liked, solely because my friends didn’t think that she was attractive enough.
  • I wrote a long-email to a woman who unsubscribed from my blog, basically begging her to stay and that I would change my blog posts from that point forward.
  • I agreed to a free speaking engagement on a Saturday to talk about a topic that I didn’t even care about, and I ended up missing my daughter’s first-ever swim class.

Believe me, there are so many more examples of me sacrificing my dignity, values, and self-respect during my 40+ years on this earth in hopes of being universally liked, but you get the idea.

It didn’t matter if that meant ignoring my values, lying to myself, or pretending to be someone I wasn’t, I would do it. As long as it resulted in me being well-liked by others, it sounded good to me.

But here’s the point that I missed:

What if I didn’t like myself because of it?

Live Your Truth, Always

Let’s be real–Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Jesus and many other great people throughout our world’s history never achieved the impossible goal of being universally liked. So what sense does it make for you and I to keep striving toward that goal?

Instead of trying to be universally liked, shouldn’t we be focused on living our truth instead?

What tied these exceptional men and women mentioned above together was that they lived their truth regardless of whether or not everyone liked them.

That’s powerful stuff, and it’s something that all of us can do.

In case you’re wondering, living your truth isn’t about walking around saying, “I don’t give a damn if people like me or not–I’m keeping it real!”, and then use that as an excuse to be an insufferable ass to everyone you meet.

To me, living your truth (or more specifically, your positive truth) is about being real and being kind.

This means rejecting the urge to change who you are based on the company you’re surrounded by on a moment-to-moment basis. Not only is being a “social chameleon” an exhausting way to live, but you won’t succeed in your goal of being well-liked either (actually, it will have the opposite effect.)

So, how did I overcome my need to be liked by everyone? Simple.

By committing to consistently live my truth.

If nothing else, remember this: No matter who you are, you will always (yes, always) have people who don’t like you for whatever reason.

People will dislike you because of how you look, dress, and talk.

People will unsubscribe from your blog, trash your business on Yelp, or fall asleep during your presentations.

People will be repelled by you for reasons you may never know.

That’s okay.

I have plenty of people who don’t like me for whatever reason (so do you), and I can’t control that (neither can you.)

Here’s what we can control: Being a better person than we were yesterday, knowing clearly what we value, and living our positive truth.

Every. Single. Day.

That’s why my “What You Allow” blog post went back up on my site two weeks after I took it down, that’s why I’ll never beg anyone to stay subscribed to my site or to be my friend, and that’s why I will always fight to create a more positive world, whether or not everyone understands it, or if anyone cares about my dream but me.

Living your truth will always be so much soul-nourishing than chasing your tail in hopes of getting everyone to like you.

Most of all, this quote says it best:

It’s not your job to like me–it’s mine.” -Byron Katie

Since it’s our job, it’s time to get to work.

Your Turn

Do you suffer from a need to be liked? How has that affected your life? Have you been able to kick the habit? If so, how? Jump into the comment section below and make your voice heard!

114 thoughts on “Overcoming the Need to be Liked”

  1. Growing up I NEEDED to be liked and accepted. I wasn’t a sports nut. Didn’t participate in a lot of activities, I wasn’t very good at baseball or football. Pretty chubby all my life. Wore glasses. Never found myself with the “in crowd”. I did have a pretty good sense of humor which pulled me through and got me friends albeit superficial ones. I learned to play drums and got in a band, which helped, but again all my relationships were superficial. If I could make people laugh, I’d feel that they liked me. Didn’t care much if they were laughing at me, or with me. I was liked. I would accept the need to be liked on any level. It did give me a sense of belonging at least in my mind. As I grew up, not much changed although peer pressures, and childhood ribbing subsided a bit. Then I didn’t care so much if people liked me, but I was curious what they were saying behind my back. So I guess I still did. I can’t tell you just how much total stress and energy I used up on the silly fact that not everyone liked me. Today, I look at it this way. I’ll take Popeyes famous line…”I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.” So world, I like ME. I am ME and I’m damn good at it. My kids Love me. Anything past that is just not that important. I don’t have an explanation, as to how I changed, but I think just having to make presentations and speaking to people got me past my concerns and I was able to relax and be me and let someone else worry about their perception of me. I hope all this makes sense. Thanks for being out there.

    Reply
    • Hey Ken, that all completely made sense to me! Also, props to you for the first-ever Popeye reference on The Positivity Solution ;). You’re so right–it is draining to use up our valuable energy and stress on trying to get everyone to like us. People are always going to have perceptions of us that may not be very positive, but as long as I’m doing everything that I can to be the best dude that I can be, then I can live with the fact that they don’t like me. Keep being you, Ken!

      Reply
  2. This is awesome, Shola.
    I was in the same boat as you for many years. When I started blogging in 2010 and sharing my emotions about my job, most of it was our of anger and frustration. So you can imagine that most of my writing came across as pissed off and I also used a bit of off color language.

    I started getting emails from readers/loyal commenters who didn’t like my language and I took it very personally. It was like an attack on me and I couldn’t handle the idea that they might not like/approve of me.

    I wrote a post about it shortly thereafter and changed my style of writing. I’ll never forget that I got a comment from Ash Ambirge from The Middle Finger Project telling my that my stuff was boring and that vanilla equaled death online.

    She said that my true audience will be the ones who resonate with my message regardless of tone or language. I took that to heart and realized that she was right. I didn’t really need every single person to like me (although I wished they would).

    So I went back to writing from my heart without worry of being judged. It’s made all the difference..

    Thanks for sharing your story with this..

    Reply
    • Steve, I can wholeheartedly relate! Whenever I wrote something on my blog that people didn’t like, I took it very personally when they angrily emailed me or unsubscribed. Looking back on it now, I took it way too personally. Ash (I’m a huge fan of hers, by the way) was 100% right when she told you that vanilla equaled death online. That’s why I’m trying to create a different kind of positivity blog here, and the true Solutionists who “get me” will stick around and be a part of the cause to make the world a better place. Like Ash said–your real audience will accept you without you having to change one bit. No matter what, keep writing from the heart!

      Reply
  3. Awesome post as always, Shola!

    I confess I’m struggling with this even right now. I have a very tough conversation I need to have with a friend and I spent all weekend with the “what if’s” rolling around in my mind. What if I lose her friendship over this? I want her to LIKE me! I want to save the friendship!
    Well, ultimately, it’s not in my control whether she likes me or not. I have to do and say what I feel is right (i.e. “speak my truth”) and the rest is in God’s hands.
    Thanks for telling it like it is – it’s just what I needed today. 🙂
    Have an awesome day!

    Reply
    • Thanks Priscilla! It can be so tough having those difficult conversations with friends, because there is always a chance that they won’t take it very well. The good news is that if she’s a true friend, then there is no way that you will lose your relationship by being lovingly real with her. Like you said perfectly, it’s not in your control whether she likes you or not–all that you can do is speak your truth. Good luck, my friend!

      Reply
    • Priscilla,I am in the exact same position with a friend right now–and I too spent the weekend worry about what she will say or do –my husband told me that I must stay true to myself –he then asked me–“even in the best of times with her–how did you feel? ” and I realized that most of the time I would walk away feeling negative and upset because of all the complaining and judgemental things she said about so many people. I need to stand tall and” speak my truth” too! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Reply
  4. Shola I’m loving your transparency. I have a couple of coworkers that don’t speak… I will admit it gets under my skin a little when a person doesn’t speak but I try to remind myself that I can only control PhillyL and no one else so if I want to speak I will and when I get tired of speaking first I will stop and keep it moving. It is hard to ignore the rudeness though lol

    Reply
    • So true, PhillyL! It has always bugged me when people don’t speak when I try to be friendly, but lately I’ve been asking myself “why am I getting so upset over someone saying hi to me…especially if I really don’t even like the person?” The answer was that I was desperate for everyone to like me. Like you said, the hard part is getting over the rudeness, but these days I just have to keep it moving and stay positive 🙂

      Reply
  5. My single favorite bit of writing in the world, Desiderata by Max Ehrmann contains these two lines:

    “Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story.”

    “Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.”

    I am the sort of person who has to remind myself to give time to listen even to people I find dull. Small talk and social pleasantries are draining to introverts like me. I really admire people who never make a person feel like they’re too busy or too impatient to give time to a conversation and to be fully present in that conversation. I try to make it a habit to greet everyone in passing because it’s a completely reasonable response to have hurt feelings when you’re ignored, especially by people you see every day whether you’re acquaintances or not.

    Reply
    • Beautiful quotes, Lora–thanks for sharing! Yes, being fully present in a conversation is such an important skill to master–and it’s a skill that I’m working on every single day. I agree, sometimes my feelings to get a little stung when I’m ignored or treated rudely, but I do my best to bounce back quickly by reminding myself not to take their response (or lack of one) personally. Thanks so much for your comment!

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  6. OMG Shola this has always been such a hard one for me. I’m mostly fine with people who don’t like me for a specific reason, like I have a job they wanted, or my husband fired them from his restaurant. That is a lot of growth there, for me to get to where it doesn’t eat me up. I still suffer though, with those people who decide to hate me for no reason. I have learned to be myself and carry on, and I’m working on trusting that these issues are about something dysfunctional in the hater, and I need to let it go. If it helps anyone at all to consider this, I have noticed that if someone is upset over a real reason, they will be willing to discuss it. If a person seems to be hating on me, and then insists there’s nothing wrong when confronted, and then continues the rudeness, then that truly is about them, and I cannot fix them. Shola thank you for being honest with us and sharing even the most personal and difficult dilemmas.

    Reply
    • Donna, once again, you summed it up perfectly! Like you said, people who don’t like you for a real reason will be willing to discuss it. But the ones who hate you for no reason (I’ve found a few of these people now that I’ve started blogging), have no interest in talking it out because their mind is made up. You’re right, people like that probably will never change, so I just keep being as authentic as possible and giving them more of the real me to hate 😉 So far, so good!

      Reply
    • Hello Donna,
      There are probably many reasons why people ignore or respond uncaringly to friendly greetings. I have done it out of resentment to a person that has done something that upset me (that I’ve talked with them before about) and then that person has the nerve to say, “Good morning!” This leaves me appearing to others that I’m rude not knowing the truth about the situation. I think to myself, how could you smile and greet me knowing that you have assigned more work to me than anyone else and that I was here on my own time last night catching up with the last episode of receiving more work, etc. It’s my fault for not speaking up; but like others here, I just need to be liked by everyone and cannot seem to stand up for myself out of fear of rejection. It gets to be a viscous cycle and anger gets built up to resentment.

      Reply
  7. A timely post, Shola! Just before I read it, I was looking on a search engine to see what people thought of my blog. Thanks for the reminder that what I think of it, how well it aligns with my values, and generally staying authentic are far more important!

    Reply
    • I can relate to all of you. I am a truthful and honest person especially with my close friends. However, when I am honest and direct about my feelings ; however, it backfires on me, and they get offended and ultimately do not want to be friends anymore. My one friend recently ignored me for 3 weeks and said she needed a break from everything and was only talking to her MS friend, I told her that I was hurt that she has not returned my call for 3 weeks. I understood but I am still hurt that she could not call me for 3 weeks. She then said she was depressed could not tell me because she was embarassed and she responded very nasty told me that I should understand and not be hurt. Also I was too hard to be friends with, threw in my face personal things that I shared with her over the yeas, and told me she does not want to be friends anymore. She said that I was mad at her for talking to her MS friend and I was not mad at all , I was just hurt she could not call me and talk with me. She was diagnosed with MS 3 years ago I have been with her at the MS diagnosis and been there for her every step of the way. Please give me our thoughts on this

      Reply
      • Some people come into your life for a season, some for a reason and some come to stay. It’s up to you to realize which one they are. The ones who come for a reason or a season will always leave- usually as a result of a misunderstanding or affront- when the purpose is fulfilled.
        Don’t hold on to someone who wants to leave. Wish them well.

        Reply
  8. Hi Shola, I used to have a desire for people to like me as well, but as I have gotten older. It really doesn’t effect me as much a it did when I was younger. With that being said I really enjoyed this post this week. It just reminds me to stay true to myself and to love me for being me. Thank you for the reminder.

    Reply
  9. WOW! Shola – I think this is my favorite of your posts to date. (not that you needed it to be :)). THANK YOU. You described this epidemic perfectly as being a “Social Chameleon”. I have spent so much of my life doing just that, and you’re right – it’s exhausting and while I sometimes have been able to please others in doing so, I’ve sacrifice bits and pieces of myself that can add up to a lot of gaping holes in my own happiness and sense of self-worth. I’ve improved on this over the years but really benefited from this entry (I even bookmarked it)!

    Thank you, thank you!

    Reply
    • That’s high praise, Whit–thanks so much! Yes, I also know about being a social chameleon way too well, and it is such a miserable way to live. It is exhausting to tell lies (even worse when you’re living a lie) because you have to remember those lies. But when we tell the truth and keep it real, then there is nothing to remember except to live our truth–which is SO much easier. I’m so glad that you liked this post so much!

      P.S. I owe you an email 😉

      Reply
  10. I have had a need most of my life to want everyone to like me. I think it got even worse after my mother walked out of my life. I am now so scared of letting go of people in my life -even people I know are an unhealthy relationship for me-I suffer from a fear of loss for sure! I too worry about the 1 person out of 100 not liking me instead of the 99 who do–I will let that one person cause great anxiety in me. I am working on getting over this need –any extra advice is always helpful! Thank you for your wise and inspiring post–they put my thoughts in a better place each day!

    Reply
    • Yes this is me… I worry about that one person and it causes Great Anxiety… How do you get rid of the anxiety and worry and the constant thinking about it? I already take medication lol

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  11. I’m sitting here reading your post and I needed to hear this. I only work 7 hours for a care giving service so when they call me, I have a guilt and fear that they won’t call me to work again and they will think badly of me. I also take care of my friend’s family and one elderly lady. I run all the time. I have a toddler that I depend on my Mom to help me watch and she’s the caregiver for her parents. My care giving service asked me to take on 15 more hours. I said yes knowing it would be hard for me and a burden for my Mom. Why can’t I say no? I already have an overwhelming guilt for not being with my son who is almost preschool age. I don’t want to give up caring for my friend’s parents because I’ve known them for over 20 years. I’ve been looking at this paperwork wondering HOW I am going to explain that I don’t have childcare for these hours after I already said yes. I have to stop letting my first answer be yes because of guilt.

    Reply
    • Hi Paula
      Take a look at the book “The Four Tendencies” by a NY Author, Gretchen Rubin. She has developed a framework that helps us to understand how we respond to expectations – both from ourselves and from others. She also has an online quiz you can do. I suspect from what you have revealed you may be an ‘Obliger’, they naturally struggle to say no, and putting their own needs first is almost impossible without outer accountability. Has given me many many ‘aha’ moments as you suddenly see family and friends reactions to requests in a brand new light. Understanding your own ‘tendency’ will hopefully help you in some way.

      Reply
  12. Another excellent look at reality shola. I remember as a kid I tried so hard to be liked but back then I never really liked myself much and not many people liked me either. As I got away from my evil step father I proclaimed my freedom.to do whatever I wanted. But then I got a boss that quickly let me know that if I wanted money I better do what he wanted. Then I began to like myself again and not care what other people thought let them hate me who cares But then I got a new job with many workplace bullies. After a while you start to believe what they say start to dislike yourself all over again.lose the trust of your loving wife of 24 years fall back into the darkness and the pain is almost more than I can bear

    Reply
  13. What a POWERFUL entry this week, Shola! I can totally relate. I grew up being the one person picked on throughout my informative years. Kids picked at me from Elementary school all the way up through graduation from High School (same students). I had one of the ring leaders actually tell me one day, when we were alone in a class room our junior year, that she actually liked me but did not want anyone to know so she could stay ‘popular’.. which I think it really boils down to others just ‘going with the flow’ in order to ‘fit in’.. so sometimes we are not ‘liked’ by others because we do not ‘fit in’ because we are keeping it real! Boy, have I learned that this past year making such significant changes in my own life! I am the one hated here at my office. They look at me with pure disgust eating their doughnuts.. while I nibble on my carrot sticks and go run a mile or two on my breaks.. as they sit and gossip about how horrible of a person I am.. so be it! (By the way, interviewed for a supervisor position for a forensic unit for the state yesterday) Totally wondering if learning this lesson was needed, as I will have to be ‘tough as nails’ if I am offered this position and I know I can do this!!

    Reply
  14. This is totally me Shola! I have spent my entire life trying to make everyone happy. It’s exhausting. I will say I have gotten better in the past few years. Aging and therapy has helped a lot. There are some differences between my story and yours. One is that it’s only the people I know that I try to please. I don’t worry so much about people I don’t know. But, a terrible thing that I do is start to fret about people I know not liking me anymore. I’m always wondering if I’m good enough for them. I’m always thinking that I’m probably not. I have to make an effort to push those thoughts out of my mind and not worry about it. That’s every day. I wonder if my opinions will offend, if I may have not been a good enough listener, or just if I wasn’t perfect enough in general. It’s a hard habit to break, but I’ve been working on it for a long time and I’m glad I’ve found people like you who always know the right things to say/write. Have a wonderful week Shola!

    Reply
  15. Hi Shola,

    What worked very well for me was realizing the following: if I don’t like every single person, myself, how can I expect every single person to like me?

    I once heard about research, that roughly 1/3 of the people like you, 1/3 of the people are indifferent about you and 1/3 of the people dislike you — and if you try to please people who dislike you, you will ‘lose’ people who like you; the rates will remain 1/3, 1/3, 1/3, no matter what you do.

    And although I’m not sure how accurate these numbers are, the message is quite clear.

    Kind regards,

    Anneke (The Netherlands)

    Reply
  16. Hi Shola,
    Another honest blog post – thank you. I too allowed my need to be liked consume my thoughts and action in the past.

    I really connect with your advice –
    “To me, living your truth (or more specifically, your positive truth) is about being real and being kind.”

    Thanks Shola !

    Reply
  17. Hi Shola,
    Ah man what a relief!I thought I was the only one.Recently I realised that I’ve spent my whole adult life trying to be liked.It’s only caused me nothing but frustration and sadness.But you know what?It’s my fault.It really is up to us to be the best people and give to others and not expect others to make us happy.Thanks for your positive blog and all the comments from everyone else that give plenty to think about.

    Reply
    • This article sucked! And I don’t like you! Just kidding.. This article was truly great.. I got picked on a lot as a kid for having a horrible stutter and being altogether socially awkward on top of that.. I’m 46 years old now and I’m realizing lately that so much of what I’ve done or haven’t done in my life so far, or whom I have or haven’t befriended (one of them a woman – I totally relate to your story..) was based on a fear of not being liked by everyone. Especially, the 1-5% of people I wasn’t sure liked me at all. Of course pleasing those few was most important, right? Screw the other 95% who actually seem to like me! This has seriously effected my growth as a human being, and I’m sure has been instrumental in my being not liked by certain people.. But again, in some cases it might not be any of that. It just might be that person projecting they’re own baggage on to me.. Anyway, thanks for a great article!

      Reply
  18. I agree
    Like yourself, we can’t truly like another without liking ourselves first.
    We would be needy wanting others permission to accept ourselves,
    How exhausting that was,
    But even all those experiences well they do help us to grow until we get it and then we certainly keep it.
    I agree
    Wonderful to read

    Reply
  19. This is very helpful! I have printed out the end to remind myself. I have difficulty not being liked, but I don’t have a very outgoing personality which sometimes makes people think that I’m aloof or stuck up. I have struggled to try to change myself to fit other people’s expectations but it just feels wrong. I’m not unfriendly and I can’t control their perception(s) of me. It’s so very difficult to remember that though!

    Reply
  20. Today has been a miserable, long, and exhausting day. I’ve been holding back what’s on my mind so I don’t get judged, I’ve pretended nothing was wrong although I just heard two coworkers gossip about me on the monitor. I’ve been obsessing about all of my actions in the month I’ve worked there trying to pinpoint the one that made them dislike me. I need them to like me because I’m one of six employees there, I can’t very well avoid them. I don’t know where to find my truth. I don’t even know where to begin to find my truth. This is so hard for me. Please help. And thank you for this article…

    Reply
    • Hannah, to some people the glass is either half full or half empty. They determine that for themselves based on their attitude about themselves and others and their life experience. To those for whom the glass is always half full , life is lovely. They relate best to those who are like them. However, those who believe their glass is half empty worry that it will be completely empty and they strive to keep it half full. These are the people who look for faults and flaws in others. It suits their purpose. They don’t like happy, friendly, kind, easy going people because they are not the same. They see the world as incomplete, lacking, scary and hopeless. They become critical, synical, frustrated and angry. You’re not the reason for their upset.
      Stay the kind,sweet person you are. Say hello, acknowledge them as you pass them and keep walking. Don’t let anyone take away your “happy”.

      Reply
  21. I’m a 70 year old man. My mother “loved” and no doubt loved, me far too much, so I didn’t really believe in love at all – I think too much is the same as none. I was bullied at school. Gradually, I learned tricks to make people like me – humour, various talents, blah blah. I am/have been quite a successful artist, teacher, writer, musician, known in my field. I have had and still have, plenty of relationships with women who thought I was really pretty good. But I never believed them really. I understand why and how this happened, I think. And realise that I have first to like and love myself. So far so clear. But HOW? I have the distinct feeling that everyone is fooling themselves, telling themselves they are better than they are. I feel it’s only me who sees that I am not just imperfect in parts, like everyone, but imperfect everywhere. I have done really good things in my life, but feel that it was all a pretence, to make people like me – AND suspect that is what everyone is up to. So it’s a bit of a vicious circle. I don’t think I’m too old to change – I look and feel 15 years younger. But how? How do you know that loving or even liking yourself is real? Thanks, in case you saw this and have an idea.

    Reply
    • Hi necessarilymadeup,
      I resonated with your post because I had the same question about how to love yourself. What is that exactly? How do you do it? What’s it supposed to feel like? I realized a few months ago that I had confused self confidence with self esteem. I was practicing self love by trying to see all the good things about myself – my looks, my talents, my kindness, etc. I was trying to remind myself of all the ways I’m worthy. However, that’s not true love. It’s actually conditional love: “I will love you if you are worthy of love.” I realized that self love actually is about loving myself with all my flaws – of accepting myself totally. I think this is what self esteem is – knowing that you are worthy and loveable AS YOU ARE. I was I can see now quite high on the self confidence, but low on the self esteem.
      I can say with some recently gained experience that loving yourself is something that is real and can be practiced. Love is such a vague word, so I like to replace it with the word “gentleness.” I practice by noticing when I am being hard on myself about some fault of mine. Then, I try to accept the fault and say that I am still loveable despite this fault. I then hold it and myself gently and breathe with it. In this way, we can grow our self a little garden of love within ourself that is independent of the “love” of others and all the commotion around us. You, as a gardener, have perhaps been wandering around other people’s gardens all your life (I know I have), but maybe now is the time to come back to your own possibly neglected garden. Get to know your soil, listen to the sounds, find out what vegetables you like to grow. Working on this inner garden to me is about cultivating our relationship with ourselves. If we tend to it gently taking joy in its fruits and accepting the weeds, we are loving ourselves. It’s never too late to start!
      not sure if this is helpful or relevant to you, but this is the idea that came to me when I read your post – all the best!

      Reply
      • Thank you for this reply, it’s exactly what I needed to hear. I knew I was confused with self-confidence and self-esteem, but didn’t know how exactly. The garden metaphor really clicked for me! Thanks again.

        Reply
  22. I think I will put sticky notes up with some of the points you made so I can try to quit being SO hard on myself and trying to figure out what I could have done to make a friend seem to turn against me, and make me feel “less than”. I am sad because of losing a lonnnnng friendship but when I think of how many years I was actually happy being around that person, it should not have been that loooonnng of a “friendship” I need to start some positive self talk. 🙂

    Reply
  23. Thank you for this post. I have been trolling the internet specifically to find ways to decrease the social anxiety I have related to “people pleasing.” I am an instructor at a university and we receive student reviews at the end of every semester. No matter how many good reviews, I can only reflect on the bad. My heart begins to race, I begin over analyzing everything I’ve done or said, and spend multiple days recovering from a “dislike” situation. I fear I don’t have the answer; however, my New Year’s Resolution is think before I speak and become a better listener. A compensatory strategy I use for my social anxiety is constant initiation of interactions (make someone smile or laugh or find a reason to like me). Many times I find myself reflecting back on these interactions with dismay: “did I say too much:” “perhaps I should not have told her that,” etc. My hope is that by asking myself “do I REALLY have something to say or I am I just trying to get this person to interact and like me,” I can become more confident in my interactions. In addition, if I can become a good listener, one who really reflects on what others are saying and responds with “my truth,” than if someone doesn’t like me I will know that I was being my best me and that is all that can be asked. Wish me luck!

    Reply
    • I have taught too & gotten the range of student reviews. Being in the teacher position, I was horrified thinking back to all the profs I had found fault with. In my youth, I was pretty critical, and hope now that my profs did not take my comments too seriously!

      I think you’re on the right track. Good luck!

      Reply
    • This totally resonates with me. The whole post does actually. I too work at a University as a trainer. I find myself being the “fun” instructor. I want people to like me. I use humor a lot to get people to smile and in my mind that means they like me. I can tell others that I really like myself, but I am not sure I do. I too am a social chameleon and it is truly exhausting. Timely post and lots of food for thought.

      Reply
  24. Very well said. In my case I think it has a lot to do with being bullied for being over weight and losing my job and being worried about my finances. I saw that people who did not do a good job, were kept on because they apple polished for the boss. I also have to admit that I am an introvert and seem to pick up on things like this more intensely. So I get a horrible feeling that comes over me when I am rejected (yes even by people I have no desire to be in relationship with or don’t like). I guess that this problem is common to everyone. But I do find that it cripples me on the inside. I am trying to learn or practice the art of humility which includes “To accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked.” Because that will happen from time to time. I will ask the Lord to cure me or at least give me a solution to deal with it.

    Reply
  25. I moved into a new neighborhood . All of my neighbors are about my age. All is well each day until I see two of them going out together. I immediately feel left out and feel that they are having fun and I feel excluded. If I ask one of them to do something with me and they refuse I am devastated. I need everyone to like me and include me. Recently one lady started a game night. I was not asked to be a part of it. So right now I am feeling sad and left out. I have friends but that is never enough.
    My mother was not there for me emotionally and was very critical of me in a very negative way. But I am not youthful any more and dammit I hate the way I feel. I take a dance class and the instructor ignores me and I feel does not like me. This is devastating to me. So that is my story. I have left my church for personal reasons and this is the only desicion I have ever made that I feel comfortable about because I know I am being true to myself. I was told that wanting to be liked is because one is ego centric and too self involved. That seems too simple of an answer. So that is it.

    Reply
    • I hear you sister! I have the same issue. I moved to a different part of the country after retiring. At first, I was jazzed about staring out in a new neighborhood. I was positive and welcoming. I became a officer the HOA and soon I felt others were not appreciating my time and effort in making the neighborhood better. Some even flipped me off because of a decision I made regarding neighborhood security. I soon became pissed off and disillusioned, and hating people/neighbors. Then I felt others barely waved to me. My wife would ask why I care so much. I didn’t know. I searched this blog and it gave me a few pointers on how to combat this feeling I have about wanting to be liked.

      Reply
  26. It’s 1230am and I’m wrestling with these exact thoughts. Why won’t so and so like me!!!? Tempted to be down about it. How come I’m so needy!!!!? So a random Google brought me to your article and I must tell you, the best thing about it is your powerful honesty and vulnerability about your own struggles in this area.
    Thank you!!! GBU

    Reply
  27. I am running into the issue that my ultimate goal is to be an expert in my field, want to be invited to speak at conferences, etc. I am pretty much there, but I am realizing that my desire is to go to conferences and meetings with my peers and have everyone like me and to feel included for once in my life, want people to think I make a difference in their training, etc. However, I have never had that much self confidence, and ended up joining lots of organizations and holding officer positions in order for people to have to interact with me/so I could feel important. I do feel that the work I do with the groups is important, but I have so many irons in the fire that my work is suffering, as well as my participation in the groups. I am having a really hard time letting go, because I do not want people to think I am a failure. However, I AM failing at doing my best for all these groups and my job. I have interpersonal issues, and what you talk about resonates deeply, but I am so worried that I am too far gone.

    Reply
    • Sarah, you said you want to feel important. People will pick up on that in the language you use to communicate and the manner in with which you deliver your message. Don’t take yourself so seriously that you focus on the material and forget that you’re speaking to people. Interact with your audience in a way that impresses them with your knowledge but do so with charm and humour.

      Reply
  28. Dear shola, I believe that I suffer for the same problem and I have an ask to you. Could you make a new post trying to explain from a psychological point of view, why some people NEED to be liked?
    I really would like to know the origin of the problem, the roots.
    Thanks….

    Reply
  29. Dear Shola,

    It is a pleasure to meet you. I have been grappling with some challenging work related issues and wanted to say a very special thank you for writing this blog. I am currently reading your “Definitive Guide to Dealing with Extremely Difficult People” and that, along with thie blog, are helping me out. Thank you very much.

    Reply
  30. I love this blog!! I have lived my 43 years with the need to please everyone around me. i would be absolutely devastated if someone were unkind or nasty blaming myself for their behaviour. So much so that i’ve been treated badly in every relationship i have ever had. My last relationship was to a Narcissist, i’ve been so bad i have anxiety and depression. Ive been going to therapy and have realised that i cannot keep living my life how other people want me to any longer! I was so angry at the world because i wasn’t being true to myself. I have begun by removing all toxic people from my life and although i know its going to take time to change how i think, i can never be the doormat i have been all my life ever again!!! Thank you for the inspiration.

    Maggie.

    Reply
  31. That is a very helpful article. Wow, how many things have I done because I wanted to be liked (or validated or honored) – and worse – I was completely unaware of it? I am not sure. When I was a Sophomore in college (as a math major thinking about law school), I mentioned to my roommate that I was thinking about switching to Psychology. He said “I think of psychology as a major for girls going for ‘Mrs’ degrees.”, in other words, the children of the wealthy who did not want to work too hard: not very respectable. And I never looked into it again! So I abandoned my instinct to pursue an area I felt fascinating because I was afraid people would think it is silly! Wow. Your posts give me strength and hope. I admire your ability to be vulnerable, something us married men need more opportunity for. Thank you!
    Going to the next step, as a married man with (many) responsibilities, what now? We can not very well just drop everything and start again. (I hope you will post an article on this.)
    But I have never posted on a blog before so, maybe this is a first step in “pursuing my truth”. And if someone reads it and does not like it, all the better.

    Reply
  32. Just found your article. Thank you so much for writing it. I am in a situation where 3x a week I have to be in the company of someone who does not like me and your article helped me get a new perspective in accepting the situation.

    Reply
  33. I feel the need to be liked by everyone so much that I gave my kidney to a stranger, I constantly give money and gifts to friends and strangers, and I go so far out of my way to make people happy. I don’t lose my values over it. In my mind, in trying to be a good person, and bring a little joy to this extremely difficult life. It’s emotionally exhausting, and it almost always affects my state of being, causing me heartache and dismay. I want to stop, but part of me feels like what I’m doing is right, like the only thing I have to give to this world is everything I can. I’m exhausted from trying so hard, and it never seems to be enough. It’s easy to say you don’t care what people think, but how do you actually do it. I read your article. I’ve known I have a problem, but it’s also hard to see it as being negative. Maybe I just feel like I don’t deserve anything else.

    Reply
  34. Wow. This post made me cry happy tears. I’m struggling between being myself versus someone who other people like but of whom I am not very proud. I have so much difficulty with it that I’m not even sure who I am. I feel lost.. but your post helped. Even a saint had haters, and saints don’t try to please everyone. They try to help everyone. I think the biggest problem held by people who want to be accepted has to do with the fact that we have such big hearts. We just want to love everyone, and we want everyone to love us, too. I’m glad you put your post back up!! Good for you. I’m subscribing 😀

    Reply
  35. Hello Shola just discovered your blog, and this one speaks to me and the major fear I am challenged with especially in my current relationship. I have the perception/fear of not being liked by my boyfriend’s closest family members.
    I love him, he shows me love, I feel it, unlike my past relationship, but I worry that I may be entering a toxic environment because of my perception and need to protect my feelings.
    My research proves that I will not be liked by everyone, there is nothing I can do about it, and all that I can control is how I react to people’s personality.
    Its just a new experience that I really didnt process before, as though my past relationship didnt work, his family adored me. There was no question about that. I try to be a people pleaser, so feeling like this in this current relationship has me worried. But I am working on being ok with it, and just to love me more, continue to show love towards my partner, and to not get distracted. Your blog reaffirmed that. Thank you.

    Reply
  36. On the flip side, how do you deal with someone that has a constant need to be liked?! I’m the president of a volunteer organization and my VP and are completely different personality types. I’m running into issues because ultimately she doesn’t want to do anything that someone may not like. She’s scared of hurting someone’s feelings, and evidently I’ve hurt her feelings and she thinks I hate her (I don’t – she’s not someone I would befriend, but I have no malice towards her) simple because I give simple, direct (but certainly not rude) responses via email; I’m just trying to get business done. But unfortunately, when you’re running an organization and making decisions, it’s REALLY hard to EVERYONE happy, all the time. So how do I deal with this person? I feel like I need to treat her with kid gloves….

    Reply
    • me too. i have found positives though….my empathy has rubbed off on my son, he therefore abhors bullying but doesnt have my obsessive need to please everyone. i think its because he knows he is loved and i never did, hes confident and i believe we must have a reason as to why we are the way we are. i know mine , what about everyone else? great to hear im not the only one!

      Reply
  37. I an struggling with this constantly. I am trying to change but feel caught up in it all the time. Apologising when I haven’t done anything wrong and bending to others so they will like me. I even worry about people I haven’t met not liking be if someone else has told then something bad about me. I know it is illogical but I can’t stop no matter how much I try and it is really starting to take a toll on my mental health. I just don’t know how to not need people to like me. It’s draining. This blog has helped because at least I know it’s not just me.

    Reply
  38. I have struggled with the need to be liked since I was a child. By family, peers at school and work. It caused me to develop severe depression that kicks in every blue moon. I go into this “the whole world hates me” stage. All I wanna do is cry, pack my stuff in my car and drive off into a new world. I had an ex tell me that I dont need people to like me. I never asked him what that meant. But now Im hearing his statement more and more in my head. At my current job everyone used to be nice. Lately, its been alot of tension. Im feeling like Im that kid that got picked on at school alot again. Its so many cliques. People just stop speaking to me all together. I do spokenword and am putting together my first showcase in April. I mentioned it and feel like that is the reason people have been so distant. This is my first production and I am very excited. But now I feel like I cant talk about it anymore. People cut me off when Im talking to another person and take over the conversation like Im not there. That makes me feel very alienated. I try not to let it bother me, but it does. I feel invisible at times. If I can find a way to cope. I will be alot happier.

    Reply
  39. I suffered all my life from low esteem, a need to be liked & the desire to live up to EVERYONE’S expectations, including my husband & my family. I aimed to please everyone but myself. This continued on and on until I became filled with so much self-loathing, I self harmed.
    Until, totally by chance, I met a gentleman who (despite my suspicions of him at first) has become my best friend & mentor. He was the one who recognised the symptoms & help me on the path to recovery. His term of endearment for me was “diamond in the belly of a snake”! This was supposed to mean that I was so valuable, I didn’t know my own worth, and the ‘snake’ was my prison that I had built around myself. At 54, I am still learning to love myself, trying to undo decades of self-punishment.
    The best sentence I’ve ever discovered (be it very, very late) was: “IT’S NOT MY PROBLEM”. Truly liberating

    Reply
  40. I found your blog by googling “Why do I have an uncontrollable need to be liked”, and I here you are! I appreciated this article. I felt like I was reading about myself. I am looking forward to attempting some of the tips that you gave. I am also a new fan of your blog because of this article. Looking to dive into some more cool stuff. Thanks!!!

    Reply
  41. This is me. One thing I really struggle with is having perspective. If someone disagrees / dislikes me, I immediately think, oh no, am I wrong? Am I being unkind and try to shift and re-think my entire life philosophy. Which is so mentally draining. How do you stay focused on who you are?

    Reply
  42. i found this site while searching the words “when people that should have died didn’t die” because of this article i read foxnews.com/health/2018/05/06/boy-13-regains-consciousness-after-parents-sign-papers-to-donate-his-organs.html
    I landed on another post first. but since my life is so unhappy and full of struggle i decided to read other posts. i come from a very family-oriented culture but had barely any family members to speak of. I also had to live in a culture that very different than the one I was brought up in childhood, a country (US) that i had no first-hand knowledge of when i first arrived. my mother’s english was limited. i had some lesson before i arrived and i learned fast, so my knowlege of english began to surpass that of my mother’s. we didn’t adopt anglo-saxon first names when we arrived, a decision i regretted for the longest time. i hated not fitting in. if i wasn’t fitting in, i must be “doing something wrong” is what i thought at the time. i really wished i was the popular kid like in a lot schoolyard-setting cartoons at the time. i always struggled socially. finding a common topic of conversation was exceptionally hard. and i always feared of being mistreated or being at the center of racial violence like ones that have happened many years past. i stopped trying to make friends at school. i asked everyone to just call me huey instead so that i don’t seem so “foreign”. never joined a team of any sort. never had much of a work history. my life always feeled so… empty. I feel like i’m constantly chasing for something to fill the void somehow. i’m always browsing the internet for entertainment. i struggle with my coursework cause i can never focus on what i’m supposed to be doing! (even now in college.) i think part of it stems from the dread i’m constantly feeling. people have told me you shouldn’t compare yourself to others. but i always like to use other people as measuring sticks to that didn’t take hold. i don’t know about my dad. i don’t about the circumstances of what happened to me when i was 14 years of age. (i will say it might not have progress beyond that point though.) because i thought i was weird, i decided on the idea to isolating my self from others. i don’t try to get to know them or cultivate a longer lasting relationship with them. because i thought, “what was the point?” i need to put in work to maintain it. plus i thought my presence would just generate discomfort with other people. yes i was really bothered i couldn’t be like (as in “similar to) everyone else. i was bothered i couldn’t be with my “idols”. i feel like my life was going nowhere. i’ll never have a bright future ahead of me, that i’ll always be forgotten by time. i liked to fester in negativity because i thought, “you would be naive to believe there would be something better in store for you.” i thought optimism was foolish and didn’t apply to me. but this mindset is not working out for me, and now i’m beginning to see i shouldn’t have to A)lie to other people about my past/personal traits or B)adopt other people’s interests/belief systems for them to like me. sorry if this is a bit long, but i think this post might inspire me to make a positive change in my life. the topic of personal change frequently makes me think of the song “man in the mirror” by michael jackson. i really don’t want to live off of other ppl’s acceptance any longer. i just want to be a unique me.

    Reply
  43. Thank you for your vulnerability in this post. I couldn’t have stumbled across it at a more perfect time. I’m a community college professor sitting in my office crying (well, I was until I read through this post) because of a bad online review from a student. I do need everyone to at least tolerate me with a smile, if not like me. And I want out of this cycle. So thank you – very much – for being there. This might be the first time I’ve ever gotten over an experience like this this quickly <3

    Reply
  44. This is amazing , the particular issue of someone speaking is just what i am feeling or was feeling at the moment i began to read this blog. I totally understand now this is in fact a problem and i have to deal with it! Live in my truth and be the best me i can. I need to print your words so that i can read them again. That helps me. Thank you for being you and sharing. Do you have a book that will also help me with this. I know it is a process for me because i have been this way for a while. Just about a week ago i realized it was a problem to trying to please people and wanting them to like me, i get it. Please suggest some readying material to help me. I am ready to be the best me and live in my truth and stand in it alone. Thank you so much! Just what i needed this morning.#beblessed

    Reply
  45. I think the need of being liked comes in very different ways. The obsession of the 2% as it happened to you, has happened to me not only with people, also trough perfectionism with my career.

    What I think that works really good to step out of “the need of being liked crisis” is that: First, everytime we do something or say something, we must be aware that it´s not gonna be liked by everybody NEVER, so that we take the pressure off that irrationaly it is going to be. And second, we need to ignore the 2% to find grattitude in the 98%.

    It´s hard for me to accept that low self-steem, the need to be liked, the need to be the center of attention, perfectionism… it´s all connected with fear and lack of self-love. But, shutting down the voice that´s always trying to tell what´s right or what´s wrong and turning on the voice of living the momentum and being grateful for everything around us helps me a lot.

    Thank you for writting this article, for sharing your experience from the heart, because sometimes we think we are the only ones going through a situation.

    PD. One thing I sacrificed because of the need of being liked was not getting a shoes I really wanted because my sister-in-law told me she didn’t liked them. But yet, forgiving myself for doing it!

    Reply
  46. Today, I found myself sinking into this hole of insecurity, wanting to be liked by everyone. Who would have known I’d be back to square one, of feeling like a high school freshman wondering who I could sit with. I have always been a bit socially awkward. I would often avoid people and isolate myself because I feared not being liked so I would rather stay away from everyone. Eventually I graduated high school and went off to college where life changed. For many years I worked taking care of children with special needs and I loved it. As of 2 months ago I got a new job as a sales person selling homes. Huge change in careers. I wanted to grow so I felt this jump would be beneficial until I find myself wanting to be liked by everyone. In all honesty, I feel as if the root issue of all of it is my insecurity. I feel as if until I learn to truly LOVE myself, what others think will not affect me as it does now. Reading this article truly have me a new perspective on life and I hope that from here on out I learn to love myself more ❤️

    Reply
  47. Just live your life. Why do people care so much about what other people think? It should have no bearing on what you choose to do. Honestly, lose the negative people in your life or keep them to a minimum. Oh, and clean out your home and work space. It does wonders for your mind

    Reply
  48. Thank you Shola for this post. Thanks also to everyone who shared. I’m having a hard time building up the courage to confront someone on a technical matter and tell them I disagree with them. I’m afraid they won’t be happy and will dislike me. But I realize I have to. Reading this blog is inspiring me to be clear, confident and reminding me that me being empowered will be good for all.

    Reply
  49. Back in high school, I would try very hard to be accepted, even if I had to lie and make up something, that led to me being ostracized by my classmates, it became a sense of trauma for me as it was a very hurtful experience. Being an outspoken person by nature did not help either, but I have a very good heart. I care for my friends and I always hope they would care back. In fact, I care too much, and when I do not get invited or talked to, I would be sad. I never had any real deep friendships or a gang.

    Fast forward 10 years later, I am in somehow a similar position I was in. My group of friends have another chat group which I am not in, and because of my inferiority, I will always check if they are online and wonder if they are making fun of me and my mistakes (I am not a perfect guy, and it does not help that I like to flirt with the girls at uni).
    I am paranoid all the time that I am being made fun at in that chat group and it really makes me feel small and whether I am a failure.

    With this inferiority, I am afraid that it will be the same at my upcoming workplace (which begins in 2 weeks). I have this constant fear that someone from my past will spread my past mistakes to my new colleagues and the cycle of inferiority and the need to please people starts again.

    Truly, I am struggling, it is not as easy to say “Just f*** it all, who cares what people think.” I care for people, and I just wish people do not find me weird and care back. I am very thankful for your blog. But I have a question, what is “truth”? what am i supposed to look for in myself?

    Reply
  50. Hi Shola,
    Every moment I introspect myself. I don’t really like myself anymore. I really don’t know where to start from. Today, I stand isolated, completely. I don’t have any friends. I don’t like the people who were my friends a while back. I don’t like anybody. All my life I have been chasing targets, getting good grades, people-pleasing, trying to be altruistic. I unconsciously become obedient around others. I feel that others are great and I’m not good at anything. I have not achieved anything in life, except good grades. I have a zero personal life. I never had a love life because that wpuld hurt my parents. All my life, I have been this ideal kid, but personally, I’m dead. I don’t have friends who love me. I only talk to my mother and sister. A year back, my father passed away, the one person in the whole world who genuinely loved me, for who I am. Every moment I try to be liked by everyone. To be honest the idea I get about myself is that, I’m a disgusting human. It’s difficult for me to like myself. I have become a very old person at a young age. I cannot enjoy life. I made a list of things that I don’t like about myself, apparently there are 100+ issues that I want to change about me. I don’t know. I keep searching for any article that’ll help me start over and live a new life, on medium, pocket, youtube. I want to desperately, genuinely, start over living my life

    Reply
  51. I too am sufering from the same syndrome. I grew up poor , my studies were funded by charity. I wanted please my donors as they were sponsoring me. My people pleasing syndrome started from there. Also being poor, teachers and class mates were sympathetic to me and used to help me financially with school fee, bus fee etc. So I didnt want to offend any one as they were helping me . Thus through out my childhood I grew up wanting not to offend any one , and I carry that mentality still now in to my adult life.Still struggling to get out of it!. This article has given me some pointers, keep up the good job! thank you.

    Reply
  52. I have had to speak upo with friends and then they disowned me. But as long as I listened to them and was a people pleaser they would tell me how much they love me.

    Then there is the Christian guilt that we are supposed to love everybody. It’s not really possible.

    Reply
  53. It is very hurtful to let a few people who do not like you occupy your headspace and cause such suffering. The pain is incredible. Objectively, I know that I should not care – knowledge that makes the pain even worse. Obsessing about the people who do not like me or ruminating about my actions is exhausting.

    Underlying the need to be please or be liked is fear, shame, and poor self esteem. When I was a kid, I wasn’t very popular / likable and knew that effected my parents. I once even remember paying another little kid to come over to my house to play with me. It all lead to a life of overachieving to hide the shame / low self esteem. Fast forward to today. I am the “boss ” at my current work but am actually afraid of being disliked and talked about negatively (or worse, ignored / cold shoulder). So, I let those who report to me get away with all sorts of things. They know the silence treatment wrecks me. Talk about not being true to yourself. Well, it is changing. Principals before personalities. Grateful for coming upon this site. I feel less alone, less fearful, and more hopeful.

    Reply
  54. Thanks for the post. Was just googling ‘getting over your need to be liked’and came cross your post. I had been at work agonizing over whether a particular coworker liked me or not and whether it meant something that my email hadn’t been responded to.

    It’s interesting how the all or nothing mentality can affect us in such profound ways.

    I realize I’ve done more than the best I can to make good impression here at the firm and the truth is people have really enjoyed my presence here. Some ppl will always have mixed feelings, may not relate, etc.. But it is not on ourselves to make everyone understand us. More importantly maybe we should strive to do what we do for our reasons and do our best to be accepting of both ourselves and others.

    Reply
  55. Thank you so much for this- reading your story….i felt like I was reading my own!
    I started a new job a few months ago as a supervising nurse and did everything I could so everyone would like me- i wanted everyone to be my friend. Then a few days ago I was told by my manager that she had several complaints that I “nitpick” about unimportant things, and that some of my coworkers were even avoiding me. It hurt so bad- I felt and do still feel betrayed! Im trying so hard to let it go…theres nothing I can think of that would confirm this and my manager couldnt give me any examples. I went and apologized to all of my coworkers so they would “like me” again. Then yesterday one that I apologized to said, “I just keep telling everyone that you’re new…i wish people would remember that!” So in otherwords, theres a lot of talking about me behind my back, despite all my efforts. Im slowly learning to redefine success not as everyone liking me, but as being a good nurse and my patients being well cared for. Its a struggle but a worthwhile one!

    Reply
  56. Hey man, thanks for that. I always wanted to be liked. I would restrain my self from things and experiences because of this fear I side me. I was too scared to be me around people. I get hurt by every trivial comment. I find it difficult to be the real me around people. I always get lost and start spending time thinking about all my previous encounters and conversations with people and trying to recall how I sounded. “Did I sound cool?” “Oh I shouldn’t have said that”and stuff. It’s difficult to control it. I am too scared to make mistakes and come out as a fool. I am scared that people with judge me and think I am a moron. I am just lost.

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  57. Dear Shola,
    I came across your wonderful post this morning when trying to seek guidance and this was EXACTLY I was looking for!! Being unhappy for quite some time now and trying to hang on to and get people to like me…socialize with me….but hardly getting anything back (invites etc) almost make me sick realizing that apparently I was NOT liked :(( Why is it that I need people’s approval and appreciation to be happy?! I do have friends but I am trying very hard making more especially with our neighbors and nothing comes out of it. I invited people over to our house and NEVER got an invite back. Why? Frustrating.
    I am on FB and read friends posts and they are getting MORE likes than me??!! That makes me feel negative every time and I almost decided to shut down my account so I won’t feel bad anymore reading all this.
    It IS sick…..isn’t it?😝
    Then this morning I tuned into a tv show where one of the topic was: Do you NEED to be liked? And then – it HIT me!!YES YES YES!! That’s exactly my problem….
    So went and googled it and came across your post!
    That all was meant to be. So I will finally do a different approach by following your advise and make the change and start to first LIKE me, be happy and don’t give a s… as to what people think and say about OR wether they do or don’t like me.
    So lots to do…and I will start RIGHT NOW 😃
    Therefore my deepest thanks and gratitude for providing your “tools” for (hopefully) getting my happiness and contentment back ♥️

    Reply
  58. Thank you Shola. All useful stuff and I appreciate your strong honesty.
    Two things which helped for me are;
    a) some people like the colour green, some people don’t. This is fact. However, it doesn’t mean the colour green is wrong or unlikeable!
    b) what is behind my need to be liked and how long has that need been active in my life? This tracked back, for me, to being a kid and the perils and often unkind consequences of ‘not being liked’ by other kids. Therefore, ‘being liked’ was essentially part of a young survival/feeling safe strategy. A strategy, I had unwittingly carried with me in to adulthood – without checking, was the strategy still valid? Essentially, your article!

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  59. I’m in my early 60s and I have finally dared to type the words “wanting to be liked” in Google to see what would come up. Right now, all I can say Shola is THANK YOU. Keep writing! Now I’m going to go look up that post “What You Allow” … I bet it’s exactly what I need to read next!

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  60. I’m twenty years old, and I wasn’t even aware of this incessant need to be liked until TODAY! Reflecting now, I can see that so much of what I’ve done in my life was to please others. I went so far as to join the military because everyone around me honored soldiers, and I wanted to be liked in that way. And so here I am, a soldier, realizing that being in the military was never my passion, it was never my dream, that I was trying to fill this unfillable void of sacrifice required to be liked by everyone. WHAT??!! I have some self-reflecting to do. Thank you for this post.

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  61. I currently struggle with this kind of thing, things have got worse since losing my partner but yes I am a ‘pleaser’ and a ‘doogooder’ but even though I know these things I can’t seem to stop.

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  62. As a small business owner, my goal when I began hiring was to “be the boss I always wish I’d had” which was to communicate clearly and often, to always be kind, to openly share my gratitude for each team member’s efforts, to go out of my way to be sure people get time off they need to enjoy a good work/life balance, to always stay true to my word, etc. What did I discover? That even then, someone will not like me–and I can’t handle that. Someone will go stonewall on communication. Someone will not hold to their end of the working agreement and fight every request with tooth and nail. So after an extremely difficult talk with a team member today where everything in my body wanted to run, I reached out to a friend with my struggle and she sent me the link to this blog post. Thank you. I SO needed this, will bookmark it and read it over and over again until every muscle in my body believes it.

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  63. I am 44 years old and struggling with wanting people to like me.
    I reach out to other woman who have daughters my daughters age and get ignored. I have allowed it to consume my thoughts trying to figure out why!
    I found this article today and it is so helpful!
    My goal today is to be better than yesterday and like myself!!

    Thank you so much for writing this article!!

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  64. I’ve recently come to a situation where I have to choose whether to do what I want and think will make me happy or to keep someone else liking me. It was really bothering me that choosing to do what I wanted was making me so upset and anxious when it was suppose to be the thing making me happy. That’s when I realized there was a problem with my need to be liked. I went on a search for some kind of article that could help explain why this was happening to me or at least to find someone else who had the same problem in hopes I wasn’t the only one. Glad I found this!

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  65. I’ve been struggling with the “need” to be liked my entire life. In high school, I was made fun of for always making good grades, so i purposely failed several tests just to impress those people. I was constantly doing homework for others and even allowing them to cheat during test time. Wow, stupid, huh? I’m over 50 now and still do things that are almost just as stupid LOL. Every day is a struggle, but I can say that “I’m not where I need to be in defeating this need, but thank God, I’m not where I used to be”. I’m learning to do more for myself and by myself and that it’s okay to do that. You can’t imagine how HUGE it is for me to say that. Thanks for you encouraging words. Keep up the good work! You are making a difference.

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  66. Wow!!! So well written and so fast to the point.
    Overcoming the need to be liked is a herculean task especially for sensitive folks – my guess this is some what genetically wired in us. Many are better in handling this but few are not.
    What this write-up conveys, especially to those folks who measure their happiness by other’s perception of them, is a root cause of unhappiness and asks us to, begin with, recognize what ails you. This is a significant first step.

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  67. This was awesome. I thought I was fairly solid in how I felt about myself. A couple of situations at work have caused me to question how I truly think and feel about myself. I work with a difficult woman. The type of person you need to walk on eggshells. A reasonable person is open to dialogue to figure things out. She is not. Any question asked her she instantly becomes defensive and keeps talking; never listening. She is not in a position to be in charge but she is. Our bosses even allow it because no one wants to deal with her histrionic behaviors. I notice I have started stressing about her attitude towards me. Ultimately, it can effect my schedule at work. I also have let her speak disrespectfully towards me. I also find I stress about it and become angry with my bosses because they will not address the imbalance at work. I think about it on weekends and after work. It makes me disappointed in myself that I would even care. I guess I feel defeated because anytime we try to ask questions that we should be able to ask the outbursts appear and the gossip. It’s very toxic. The post should definitely help me. A couple of key lines really stood out to me about who I have become in order to try to keep peace. Great article.

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  68. Honestly I’m living this right now, I literally just had my moment where I realized just how bad my need to be liked is, and found your post! It really hit home because I found myself apologizing for something that really wasn’t wrong, making minor things seem dramatic so that if I ever want to rant about something, it seems worthwhile to the person listening, even at the expense of myself, and my name which is something that matters to me a lot. I didn’t acknowledge my need to be liked because honestly? I liked myself in the sense of my core values, and the people most important to me love me almost to the point where I don’t deserve it, so I never thought I had a REASON to be like this, but I am, and I guess acknowledging is part of the recovery process? It was a really good time for me stumble on this blog post, and thank you for writing this! I hope your journey is going well too!

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  69. I am struggling with this very badly right now. I worked for a company for 7 years, they were not great people but not all were bad. The company let me go back in the spring without warning and with a very lame excuse that made no sense. I was hurt, hurt that some of the management disliked me so much that they got rid of me. What hurt more was that barely anyone from that company that, I worked with for years, has spoken to me or cared that I was suddenly gone. I wonder so often what I did to make these people not like. I had never had this problem with a job or with making friends ever. I beat myself up about it, it makes my introverted self want to go off the grid. If this group of people don’t like me then how would anyone else? I know its a crazy way to think, all of it. I tell myself this all the time but I just can’t seem to shake the hurt. I have never been one to try and please others or change myself for others so I can’t understand why this hurts me so much. Any thoughts?

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  70. Hi Shola,
    I came across this post as I was googling “why don’t people like me ” and ” why people don’t respect me “. I often find people become comfortable around me quite quickly and start ‘walkibg over me’ and have no respect towards me.
    One of the reasons I recently deleted my social media accounts was because I was sick of feeling down about not being popular and I would get anxiety each time I would post or comment on anything, – the fear of not being “liked”. This lead to overthinking everything and fearing I would somehow upset people for saying the wrong thing. Since having my daughter I have to see life differently and she has changed my perspective. I thought why am I even worried about people) who I never see or talk to) are liking my photos or not etc. I no longer want to waste my time worrying about things like that, I want to put all my energy and focus onto my daughter. Thank you for writing this blog !

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  71. Thank you so so much for this beautiful blog…currently I am suffering from the same situation …and this helps a lot..a lot…God bless you😀

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  72. This is big problem. Im 20 years old and this problem makes my life really hard. I cant do the things i want because this fear is always in my mind. I cant protect myself and my family from the people who hate me for no reason. Now i know its really bad to want other people to like you. Wasting time and energy for something that doesnt matter. Better to be yourself and believe to the truth. Who can tell who you are? You. Not the people. Who can tell if you re good person or bad really? Its you. I made big mistake to believe in the lies of people who told me im not good. Many people are jealous and if they see you are better or if you have more than them they can start to insult you. Never believe to someone who talks negative things about you. Never be afraid to say no to someone who wants to use you control you. Its your life and you must do whats right for you. Im sorry i wasted so much time and allowed people to jump over my head.

    Thanks for the good advices

    Reply
  73. Thank you, this is very helpful. A few years back, in 2016, I was overweight and didn’t care about my health, so I took matters into my own hands and started working out, eating healthy, and getting in shape. Now, 3 years later, the comments about my weight loss and how good I looked faded out because it just became my norm. Everyday I go to the gym and I look to see if people are looking at me. I try to make myself look as best as possible so that I can be the most appealing. I am married with a 9 year olds daughter, I am happy, and my life is stable. I have no desire to do anything risky or anything of that nature, but this undying urge within me to have somebody say “wow you look good” or to be impressed by me, is overwhelming. I’ve always been a social chameleon and a bit of a word Smith. One difference with me is this, I have found that if somebody outright doesn’t like me, I wouldn’t bend over backwards to persue them, I actually would start to hate them and speak ill about them to others. Feeling this way is absolutely the most toxic way to live your life. Your words are very inspiring. You mentioned a time when a girl with down syndrome was being made fun of, I would have done the same thing you did. I would have been a coward and kept my mouth shut for fear that if I said something that the group didn’t agree with and looked at me and their aggression turned at me, it would be a total loss even though the right thing to do would be to stand up for her. This is something I have come to grips with in the last 6 months of my life, and something needs to change. I’ve genuinely tried being a nice person to everybody, to be inclusive and considerate of other people, which are good traits for someone and will generally result in people liking you. The problem is, like you said, it’s when you need to be liked, not want to be liked. I hoping to find a way out of this viscous cycle.

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  74. In my teenage years, I didn’t quite understand why other girls felt the need to be liked especially by boys. In my defiance, I did the opposite. I never tried to get any boy to like me. In fact I despised those who felt this need. During this time I was unconsciously hating boys and men in general for I felt it unfair and utterly ridiculous for women to feel compelled to do stuff that made them likable. I think feeling the need to be liked in the context of women is different from the general feeling of this need. I don’t know whether men struggle with this need to be “liked” by women but in my opinion they don’t. Men have a certain privilege that allows them to act however they like regardless of what women may think about them.

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  75. Thank you for sharing, your words have inspired me. I’m so grateful for wonderful, open, brave writers like you who can speak for people who are shy about confronting this issue. I wish they taught these kind of values in school, we’d all have a much better start in life.

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  76. I didn’t realize I had a need to be liked until today. Shortly before I searched ‘need to be liked’ and came across your blog. I walk around angry and resentful towards my husband for being so lazy while I do literally everything around the house. I don’t say much , because I am usually trying to avoid conflict. It only occurred to me today after about 5 years of this behavior, to ask myself why I allow it. My teenage daughters don’t do much to help me out around the house either. I finally realized it’s me that is the problem. I allow it. While reading your blog i recalled a few embarrassing times i was a social chameleon. My husband and I are separating but still living in the same house for the time being. I have been working on myself for a while now, and want to continue to do so in order to avoid falling in to the same behavior in future relationships. I read an article in psychology today mentioning that the need to be liked can be tied to physical and emotional abuse endured during childhood. Do you agree with this? Also if this is the case, is it really as simple as deciding to no longer allow the behavior? Or is it safe to assume some may have a long path ahead of them. Seeking advice!!!
    Thanks, Jennifer😊

    Reply
  77. Hello,

    I just read this page and I came onto it due to exhaustion. Exhaustion from feeling like everyone who likes me needs to express it. They need to tell me all the time how much they like me. The thoughts that make me feel no one cares I live. The thoughts that make me feel my friends don’t do things for me barely check on me I must be a awful person. I the feeling that I feel I have no friends and I’m so closed off. The feeling that whatever I do however nice I am however much I care people say I am amazing like it but don’t love me and show me. It puts me under unease and I feel like I’m not good enough and I get headaches. I feel like I see myself as to how people see me. If someone isn’t as interested in my thoughts or my achievements I will focus on those few people than those many others who are there for me. I don’t know how to just love myself without people’s approval sometimes. I don’t know how to stop overthinking this.

    Reply
  78. Thanks for sharing your story ! For many years I have struggled to be a people pleaser, and to have everyone like me. My eyes opened up once I discovered I was a co-dependent, and I had a serious issue.

    I’m recovering from co-dependency, and I’ve been doing the internal work to not only become a better person, but to care less about other peoples thoughts, and opinions.

    I still struggle, but I’ve realized that every day is one step closer to my goal. You will still stumble, and fall .. but it’s not about how many times you fall it’s about how many times you get back up !

    Breaking the habit of being liked isn’t easy no, but I’ve always kept in mind tht it’s entirely impossible to please everyone .. even people as popular as Beyoncé receive hate .. I cannot compete lol .

    Life is short why focus on everyone else’s happiness but your own ?

    The choice is yours!

    Reply
  79. I’m a people pleaser also. My siblings reminds me of it almost everyday. I don’t care if they’re strangers or family, they HAVE to like me best or I would feel uneasy. One time, I forgot to visit someone and say hello. I felt REALLY guilty about it and when I finally came by, they were asleep. It was probably the most stressful day of my life. I couldn’t stop thinking about them and what they would feel about me. Same goes for animals, if they don’t like me best, I get really guilty and overthink. I’m still currently trying to solve this problem.

    Reply

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Hi! I am Shola

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Over a decade ago, I was drowning in the despondency of yet another workday. My success as the top regional performer had been numbed by a culture of incessant workplace bullying. And, I’d recently made the situation worse by filing a formal complaint. In short, I was collateral damage in a company without the process or intention to address my experience.

Exhausted from the drama, with an unrecognizable version of myself at the wheel, I intentionally swerved off the interstate in an attempt to take my own life. But in that half-second, my reflexes responded, and I yanked the wheel away from disaster. As I clipped the guardrail on I 405, something changed...

I uncovered a power within myself

...a burning desire to reverse a trend that happens daily to sixty-five million people in this country alone. This catalyst has since become Go Together™ Movement - a transformational roadmap of mindset, behaviors, and tools that transform workplace cultures and drive results.

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