News Flash! Not everyone likes me. I know you find that hard to believe. Me too; but it really is true. Imagine that! I have really struggled with it for a good part of my life. It isn’t that I think I am so perfect or special, it is more about how hard I try to treat others with respect and dignity.
Let’s look back to our childhoods. We were told that our best effort was good enough. Did you tell that to your children too? I am guilty. Parents, teachers or other adults never bothered to inform us that the rule wasn’t intended to be a blanket statement regarding how people would respond to us. I recall a few conversations with my mother, where I would ask her advice about other kids or friends that did not return the kindness that I extended to them. My mom was a wonderful person but not perfect. Her solution to such problems was to question what I might have said or done to put that person off. Yes, it is a parent’s job to help a child see how sometimes one’s actions are not conducive to cultivating a bond with others, and yes, sometimes I screwed up. Sometimes I still do. But I wish that part of the time Mom would have told me that I shouldn’t be overly concerned and that no one was liked by everyone. It sounds like common sense, but if that is what has been drilled into you is that it is your fault when others don’t like you, it is hard to shake it off because the roots have wound themselves down into your core.
I don’t know why it has taken so long for me to figure this out but I have talked to several other female friends that say they have had a similar experience. Oh, if I could reclaim the time I have wasted over the years trying to get others to like me without stopping to question if I liked them. In the majority of the cases I didn’t like them. I had been programmed to believe that if I was a good person then everyone would like me. It was a crazy quest for impossible perfection, you know, that sugar and spice and everything nice crap. What was there to gain in acquiring a friend that you didn’t even like?
This is what I wish I had been taught: You should treat others with kindness and dignity but there will always be those that do not like you. Some will even persecute you. Even Jesus Christ, who loves all and set the perfect example for us, was hated by the majority. Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew 10:14 (NIV) “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet”. My interpretation is that the Lord has given me (and you) permission to move on and not look back. That, dear readers is liberating!
Not caring about the opinions of others while doing one’s best to be kind is a jagged slope and caution should be employed when climbing. We do not have a license from God to name calling, inconsiderate, hateful individuals. I have set backs from time to time. When I am dealing with stress, am tired or even when I am lonely, the slips and missteps cause me to again feel unworthy. The course gets smoother as I limit whose opinions matter. My circle is getting smaller and that is wonderful. It is tighter and stronger. I know my tribe and they know me. We embrace each other with all our warts and scars.
Are you still beating yourself up over the people that don’t like you? I will tell you now, what you should have been told as a child. If you are kind and respectful then you have done your part. Don’t give that person another thought. It isn’t about you, it is about them.
It may be that your voice sounds like their boss who is a power- hungry, angry person. Perhaps you resemble their long lost sister and seeing you brings back painful memories. Perhaps they are just a jerk and don’t realize what a great friend you would be if they would only come out of their self absorbed world. Most importantly, quit trying to figure it out. Move on and focus on the people that appreciate you and that add to your life.
Quit trying to eat those worms already! Unless of course you like worms. If that is the case, I have some I can send your way.
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The photographs used in this post were provided courtesy of Jeremy Chen, Bill Craighead, Jonatas Domingo and Sippakron Yamkasikorn