Do you have trouble letting go in front of others? Do you constantly worry about what people think of you and agonize over whether people like you?
If you are the kind of person who spends your life checking your behavior and stifling your personality for fear of being disliked, then I have excellent news for you!
Are you ready for it? Here it is: YOU WILL BE DISLIKED.
You will be disliked!
No matter how much you try to avoid it—no matter how nice you are; no matter how funny or pleasing or charming you can be—you are, eventually, going to be disliked by someone.
Now, I know that you’re probably thinking that this really doesn’t sound like good news at all . . . but it is!
Consider it this way: when you know that someone is going to dislike you, the pressure is off! In the same way, when you fully accept that not everyone in the world is going to like you—that, in fact, you will HAVE TO BE disliked at some point—it is incredibly liberating.
Let’s face it: if we’re willing to be our authentic self (which is necessary to achieve any semblance of peace and happiness in life), then we are eventually going to come across someone for whom that self does not jive. And that’s ok!
Let me give you an example from my own life. Below is an excerpt from a one-star online review of my book, Not Nice:
Author doesn’t provide any real solutions but talks about his own problems on and on. Self-absorbed and narcissistic. . . . I didn’t pay money to hear this fuck face brag about his family and listen to his own problems and challenges. . . . I feel like he wrote this book as therapy for himself, to help himself rather than to help others. . . . If you want an audiobook with real substance to deal with real social anxiety and self-confidence and insecurities, I’d look elsewhere.
Wow—that’s pretty harsh criticism.
In the past, that sort of attack would leave me devastated and completely derail my commitment to action. I would read things like that and feel so hurt, angry, defensive, and depressed that I’d be terrified to put myself out there again.
Worst of all, though, it would make me want to change how I write—and essentially who I am—to appease the hatred of the naysayers.
So, how did I go from being hopelessly impressionable to now being able to genuinely laugh at it? By learning to let go.
Now, this can be difficult at first, so you will need a process. For me, it’s all about breathing and letting in a bit of perspective.
In the case of knowing someone who already dislikes me, I just consider what they might be going through. I acknowledge their feelings, and then I send some love and acceptance their way. For example, in the case of the review above, I might say to myself, “That person did not find the solutions he needed from me, and that’s ok. I hope he finds what he’s looking for.”
Then I take a breath and imagine any stress, anger, or pain flowing out of my body with the air I release.
The important thing to remember here is that someone disliking you is rarely about you.
A person’s hatred is almost always about the other person and their experiences. And that person’s hatred, pain, or negative energy does not have to be a part of you. You do not have to take it in.
On the contrary, you just need to be able to let it go.
The best way to do that is to accept it ahead of time: you are going to be disliked. Once you face that fact—face that fear—you will begin to see that it doesn’t have to have a hold over you. The more you can face it, in fact, the more skilled you will become at instantly overcoming it when it rears its ugly head.
Now, before I let you go, here’s one more thing to consider. In real life, we don’t get metrics on how many people do or don’t like us . . . but since I happen to have put myself out there on the internet, I do! So, let’s consider the aforementioned review: one might be inclined to receive that kind of feedback and think, “Oh, my god. Everyone hates me. I should just give up—I’m no good.”
But if you look at the metrics, that is absolutely not the case. In fact, 89% of the reviews for my book—the same book the negative reviewer read—are four- or five-star reviews. That’s almost nine out of ten people on average who feel very positively about it . . . and it’s the same with our real-world interactions!
Even when you know there is one person out there who can’t stand you, odds are that most everyone else is just fine with you, if not highly enamored with you.
Long story short:
From this moment on, you can rest assured that, no matter what you do, there are going to be people who dislike you.
So, stop worrying! Stop stressing! Let go of the need to be perfectly pleasing to all people, and just focus on being your most genuine, authentic self.
Put yourself out there as transparently as possible—you may not win the affections of every single person you ever meet . . . but you will be infinitely more likely to find the people who will love you for who you truly are.
I hope this tactic serves you and has opened you up to being yourself more boldly in the world. As always, I ask that you please share your questions and comments below. In which situations is it most difficult for you to let go of being liked by everyone? What tactics have worked well for you? Also, negative reviews aside, you can still access Not Nice on Amazon.com or Audible.com. I very much hope that it sheds some light on this difficult topic for you!
Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.