What does this mean? Courage in the face of not being liked? And more importantly, why should anyone want to be accepting of such? Don’t we all long to be liked? Isn’t it preferable to try our best to be liked by most others, if possible? Who is truly comfortable and cool with people not liking them?
Most of us tend to feel sad or shamed, disheartened or bummed, on learning of others disliking us. This is natural, to yearn being thought of positively.
And yet, it’s a yearning that can ruin your emotional life, adding boatloads of anxiety, sadness, and dissatisfaction to one’s daily experience. An aspect of living of utmost importance: that you become accepting and even comfortable with being disliked.
Why is it crucial to garner the acceptance of and courage to be disliked?
Some relevant questions to ponder first:
— Is being disliked (to a certain degree) inevitable in life? Or, might we possibly be able to make the vast majority of others like us, in how we act and speak?
— Is being ok and even completely comfortable with being disliked important or misguided?
— Is being disliked a reflection on our worth or actual likability?
— How, if it’s true that being disliked is normal, and even sometimes good, might being at peace with being disliked make our lives infinity better? Freer? Lighter? More focused and confident?
— Why is it important to be comfortable with being disliked?
Being disliked, to a certain degree, is inevitable. One can bend, twist, impress upon, and attempt making themselves likable to extreme degrees, and yet, even then, there will still be people who will not like you.
Why? Because this is part and parcel with life.
We all have differing tastes in friends, colleagues, romantic attractions, and the people with whom we enjoy spending time.
We all have wildly differing perceptions of one another, most of which are inaccurate to some degree.
We all gravitate toward and vibe with particular people, and not with others.
We each have different personal preferences, personality types of our own, varying levels of emotional health, and personal temperaments, all of which affect to whom we are drawn towards and like.
All of this: a normal and unavoidable aspect of human life and relations. And thus, there will always, ever be at least a few people who, try as you might, will not like you. Some of which may be based on fact, and others which will be based on incorrect perception and assumptions.
Haven’t you ever disliked someone, felt rubbed the wrong way by a person, and been unable to explain why? Even felt slightly guilty about it? Knowing you had no concrete reasons for such, but you just find this person kind of meh or ick? Well. We have all had this experience, both in feeling it towards others, as well as being the recipient of such in others feeling it towards us. This is life.
None of this is, of course, allowance nor reason to throw up one’s hands and say, “well then, what is the point. I don’t care what anyone thinks. I won’t even try. Since I cannot control what people think of me anyway, forget even bothering.” Not so fast.
One should still strive towards being their best self throughout daily life, and the whole of their lives. Strive towards growth, personal betterment, and being the most optimal version of yourself every day. However, do not do this for the pleasing of others. That is where the mistake comes in- because it’s a futile effort and will only result in a disheartening emotional roller coaster- feeling awesome when people like or approve of you, and awful when they don’t. Ever emotionally at the whim of others opinions.
Instead, be your best self because you want to feel good inside. Because you want to present your utmost self to the world and to others. In this case, the right people will gravitate towards and like you, and the ones who aren’t so much “your people,” will not. But then that’s ok anyways.
Remember, when you bend yourself to everyone else’s whims, and are ever rushing to please, this results in you living life for others. Ever attempting to mold yourself into a person you are (often) not. Almost begging by means of sacrificing yourself, in order to earn liking and affirmation by others.
There is nothing wrong with wishing to be liked. We all desire such. Again, strive toward being your best self. But to conclude, this means being your best self for you. Making choices based on your morals, beliefs, and life compass. Not for others.
And all the while, knowing and accepting that for you, as with everyone, there will always be people who will like you, and people who will not. That this is ok and an unavoidable part of life. And that basing your happiness around such is a recipe for misery, and living your life at the whim of others.
It is ok, and even crucial, to become at peace and accepting with the aspect of life that sometimes, you, all of us, will be disliked. In fact, if one isn’t at peace with this idea, it will cause significant personal insecurity, worry, emotional ups and downs, as well as sadness.
One constantly worrying things such as: did I please that person? Does this colleague like me? What do they think when I skip game night because I am tired after work? Was my boss mad when I didn’t stay late, even though my home life is equally important to me? Did my friend think it was lame that I only stayed two hours for coffee? Was my mom mad that I didn’t want to go out with her on Friday? Was my dad disappointed that I didn’t go to the college he wished I would? Did the girl I just went on a 3rd date with think my joke was lame?
Yes, sometimes even your friends and nearest and dearest will rub you the wrong way, piss you off, disappoint, or hurt you. This happens too. You will do the same for them as well sometimes.
This acceptance of such is also part of having healthy boundaries. When a person is perpetually thrown about and deeply affected by what everyone else thinks of them, this is having incredibly poor personal boundaries and is a recipe for much emotional struggle and strife through one’s life.
Strive to be your best self. Do not though allow others opinions of you to dictate your sense of self-worth or mood. Be your best, and let others opinions go and rest.
“A way of living in which one is constantly troubled by how one is seen by others is a self-centered lifestyle in which one’s sole concern is with the “I.”
― Ichiro Kishimi, The Courage to Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change Your Life, and Achieve Real Happiness
Being disliked, the vast majority of the time, is not a reflection on you. Instead, it’s a reflection on the other person (whether a positive, negative, or neutral one). Maybe on their perspective or personal tastes, which are different than yours or you. Possibly on their lack of openness. Maybe its a reflection of their own emotional health, moods, you name it, the reasons can go on and on.
An important thought to note: some people are not especially nice or happy and thus, feel bitterness and anger towards those who are. People like this tend to dislike those who are happier and more contented with themselves, with a combination of jealousy and resentment. Their issue, nor yours. Another aspect of why its important not to worry too much when someone doesn't like you. If its a person like this? Who cares. They are not an emotionally healthy or kind person anyway, so their opinion of you shouldn't matter.
Regardless of the reason someone may not like you, none of this reflects on your worth. And as just mentioned, sometimes it reflects not so nicely on them.
There will always be people who will like you, and always be people who will not. This stands true for everyone. It’s not a reflection of that particular person’s likability but instead, a reflection of peoples varying tastes and perceptions. That’s all.
One caveat: there are some people who are truly bad inside. Cruel hearted, nasty, untrustworthy, manipulative, aggressive, or just angry people. Often, these people have stormy relationships, filled with ups and downs, if they have any lasting or truly close relationships at all.
These people likely find themselves frequently disliked and at odds with others. In this case, it can be a sign for much needed inward reflection and careful consideration of oneself, if finding one’s personal relationships frequently in strife, with many ups and downs, or often even ending altogether.
This would be an exception to the rule of not caring about others opinions of you. If there are hoards of people who dislike you, or multitudes of relationships ending in your wake…this is a major red flag in terms of your own emotional health and possible issues needing some careful and honest reflection.
More often than not though, someone not liking you has nothing to do with your likability, as literally all of us are disliked sometimes, as is life.
Acceptance of the knowledge that throughout life, you will be disliked, allows one an amazing sense of personal freedom inside. Think about it. When one is perpetually occupied and concerned with what everyone thinks of them, not only is that majorly emotionally consuming, it’s also tiring and distracting. This takes up a lot of space in one’s heart and mind. Adding much worry to a person’s life.
When you let go and accept that, even in being your best self, some people will like you, even love you, while others will not, this takes an immense weight off one’s mind and heart.
It allows for an amazing and crucial sense of freedom in your life. To be who you are, revel in the relationships with those who do love and like you, and not worry about the ones who do not.
This might be the most important skill and mindset you learn in life. Accepting and being at peace with the idea that there will always be some people who will not like or will take issue with you.
Side note: sometimes, this can even be people you love dearly. Such as, a parent disagreeing or disapproving with a choice you’ve made, or a friend being disappointed in something you have chosen or done (or, not done).
Again, same logic still applies. When people love you, they may be disappointed or upset for a time when you have done something of which they cannot understand or do not like, and yet, if they truly love and like you, they will get over it. Assuming it’s not a moral or ethical issue, in which case, that might result differently.
However, if someone whom you love deeply and to whom you are quite close is incredibly upset by a choice you have made or are making, by all means, consider their point of view. Maybe they have a perspective you hadn’t yet pondered that has merit. Maybe their concern is worthwhile or well founded. If so, think about such.
If not though, if instead they simply do not like something you are doing which in no way harms you or others, and isn’t really a moral or ethical dilemma, then continue on down the path you have chosen and they can get over it. As ultimately, it is their issue and not yours.
This is part of having healthy and strong boundaries. You must live in a way that is in accordance with your own deepest moral, values, and dreams, for a life of utmost happiness and fulfillment. And sometimes, these choices will result in people not understanding or liking you for it.
Why is it important to become comfortable with being disliked?
Because it results in a far more joyous, free, and fulfilling life.
Because you aren’t living for the sake of and pursuit of pleasing others, and are instead, living for the fulfillment of yourself and your own highest values, goals, and morals.
Because becoming comfortable with being disliked means not feeling filled with anxiety or continually disheartened when someone may not like you (which will happen throughout every person’s life. It’s inevitable).
Instead, it won’t bother you. You will feel lighter, free, unconcerned or distracted by such. When you live a life in which you don’t mind being disliked, it infuses one with confidence and courage. Of being unafraid to be oneself and pursue one’s greatest dreams and goals, even if others may not like or agree with such. That will not matter to you, when you decide to let go of worries over what others think and if they approve or not.
“The courage to be happy also includes the courage to be disliked. When you have gained that courage, your interpersonal relationships will all at once change into things of lightness.”
― Ichiro Kishimi.
“Unless one is unconcerned by other people’s judgments, has no fear of being disliked by other people, and pays the cost that one might never be recognized, one will never be able to follow through in one’s own way of living. That is to say, one will not be able to be free.”
― Ichiro Kishimi, The Courage to Be Disliked: How to Free Yourself, Change Your Life, and Achieve Real Happiness
While all the words in this article are entirely my own, the idea was inspired by a book about this very concept. A major bestseller in Asia, recently published and made available here in the US. I have read it, and while some of the writing and prose was meh, the message and moral of the book was superb.