This is a very common question because our greatest wish is to be ACCEPTED, especially for who we are, and our greatest fear is tone REJECTED and excluded because our innate feeling of belonging, and wanting to be included, is very powerful. Some people do have genuine difficulty getting others to like them, while others find it almost effortless. If you are worried about whether people like you or not, or whether you are lovable or not, you have low self-esteem and place people’s approval of you above your own self-value. Not appreciating yourself, you hope people will like you to compensate for your own lack of self-love. But the best way to get people to like you is to start with loving YOU.
How do you feel about yourself at this moment? Do you really like what you see in the mirror?
We all have the potential to be well liked right there within ourselves. It is just a matter of finding it and acting upon it, which is not that easy to do, because there is no magic way to make them like us. When you love yourself, that self-comfort is obvious to everyone else, which is likely to make them feel more comfortable around you, too. You are able to take people or leave them. You also do not depend on them for your approval, because you feel confident in who you are, regardless of who likes you.
In fact, there are four sure ways of getting others to like and appreciate us more, and they start with the key one, self-love.
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Question: I asked a friend and her son to come on vacation with me. The problem is that one minute she wants to go and I had better not change it, and the next minute she can’t go and is scared to leave the boyfriend for a couple days. Or I want to leave one day and she wants to leave another. The way she talks to me sometimes and the way she just acts around me just makes me mad. Did I do the right thing inviting her?
A. Your friend sounds terribly insecure. If she cannot leave her boyfriend for a few days she will lose him soon by being too clingy and fearful. It sounds as though you have been very patient, but you also need to act in a certain way which won’t make people take advantage of you. Once you invite someone to accompany you, and you have changed the details for them once or twice, that’s enough. You cannot continue to change every minute, otherwise your friend will just keep changing because of her own fears and lack of respect for the consequences for you.
Some time ago, I had a similar situation. i wanted to go to Holland for a week and asked my best friend to accompany me and she agreed. However, she changed her mind at the last minute when I couldn’t really cancel the holiday plans. I took a deep breath, masked my fear of going alone, and found the courage to go ahead, regardless. i had the most awesome time in Ostend, finding my way around, meeting new acquaintances who were keen to show me places, and had some photos to remind me of a truly enjoyable trip.
The best thing to do is to arrange a date to suit you, invite your friend and stick to the date. If she cannot go, fine. You go off and enjoy yourself because you are bound to meet people like you. If you live in fear of going off on your own, your friend will always mess you about and you will never go on your holiday. Absence makes the heart grow fonder so your friend should go away with you and allow her boyfriend to actually miss her sometimes.
You can NEVER please everyone and make them happy because everyone has different needs. You can only please yourself, and those who like what you are doing will also be happy, too. Perhaps you have been trying to please her too much because you really want her friendship, and she is taking advantage of that, which can only lead to disappointment all round.
Stop changing your dates and start making your arrangements. Your friend will then see that you mean business and will either go with you or hang back. If she doesn’t go, it’s her loss. But don’t let her spoil it for you anymore.
(NOTE: Paid subscribers, or significant Donors, can have their questions answered publicly. A private service is available separately.)
Question: I honestly can’t recollect a time in life in which I have had a meaningful friendship. All my interpersonal interactions are shallow. I simply can’t seem to relate to my peers. It seems as though the average 16 year old isn’t interested in intellectual discussion. Though I try my hardest, I simply can’t discuss shoes and cars for more than five minutes without drifting off into my own world. I think most of the problem lies with me. I’m shy and appear emotionless to others. I don’t really reach out to anyone. I never know if they actually want to talk or not. This is why I wait for others to initiate conversation. Is there something wrong with me?
A. There is nothing wrong with you, but two things might apply to your situation which would keep you isolated.
First, you appear to be very mature and intellectual for a 16 year old. You cannot ‘relate’ to your peers because you are too mature and knowledgeable for them. You sound like an adult already inside your young body, judging by your vocabulary and thought process. Of course, not many people would be like you, which you would need to accept. Just as how small talk about ‘shoes and cars’ would bore you to death, discussing the heavy subjects would bore them mightily, too. You perhaps need a compromise where you begin by taking an active interest in others, instead of just caring about your needs. Get to know that person through sharing activities or information and you will seem even more attractive yourself, because others will want to know about you, too, and even want to discuss your subjects. But, if it is all about you, they will just keep away from you.
Second, if you appear ’emotionless’ to others it could be that you are masking some hurt in your life that you have gone through, protecting yourself from future hurt by being detached and guarded. That would not endear you to anyone because TRUST is at the heart of relationships. Unless you can trust others, make friends with them in an expressive and open way, without guarding yourself too much, or being too detached in your interaction, you won’t have many friends. They would always be suspicious of your motives. People can’t react to coldness. It is warmth and interest that draw them near.
Perhaps if you start sharing your feelings with others, to talk about what has affected you, and to empathise with them as well, people might come to see that you are as human as they are, and come to trust you. Most important, you won’t appear too ‘robotic’ and ’emotionless’. Furthermore, don’t wait for others to talk first. Start off the process with simple questions about them when it feels okay. That is the only way you’ll know if they wish to talk because they will either answer eagerly, reluctantly, or not at all.
It sounds as though you need intellectual stimulation from other bright people of your own age or older. If you take an interest in others and trust much more, in time you will gradually find the type of people who matches you, as well as the friends you seek.
I set eyes on my ex husband at an event and knew that the attraction was mutual immediately I saw him with his friend and spoke to him. We lasted 25 years and were still in love by the finish, except that we had diverged so much in our values and expectations, we could not sustain the relationship on love alone because too much resentment and anger had crept in.
On another occasion, I knew I had fallen in love instantly with someone when our eyes met across a room, seeing him for the first time. It was amazing because it was so unexpected with him not being the type I would have expected to even be friendly with. That was before my marriage but circumstances just weren’t right at the time to follow through. Thirty years later he proposed, but I was a different person by then and wanted something new with my life.
Falling in love is really down to our beliefs. If we believe that anyone can engage us in an instant, because we are expressive enough to allow it to happen, it will always happen for us. If we are the cynical type who question every potential relationship and are worried about its outcome, it won’t get a chance to flourish because we will kill it with our negative expectations.
People who don’t believe in falling in love at first sight are seldom likely to experience it for that very reason: they cannot have something positive materialising out of their negative beliefs, and fear of its consequences will keep such an experience from happening. Even if it got up and smacked them in the face, they are likely to attribute it to something else.
Yet love at first sight is magical when it works because, with its element of surprise, it carries with it the potential for something truly exciting and enjoyable.
So many people seem to find it very difficult to cope with positive compliments. They appear to find it natural to criticise and judge, or they expect to be criticised, they have forgotten the art of making someone’s day through simple appreciation and validation.
I remember going into a bakery in the marketplace in High Wycombe, England, not long ago, at the same time as an elderly lady was leaving with her companion. She had great difficulty walking, but she deliberately stopped near the counter and said a very cheerful ‘Good-bye!’ to the staff member who was serving. The girl heard her but looked straight through the woman without smiling, and said nothing. Very disappointed, the woman hobbled out slowly, exclaiming, sadly, that the girl couldn’t be bothered to reply.
This was a pity as it would only have taken a few words to make her day. Giving a cheerful greeting and having it returned was perhaps her way of feeling significant and valued. Yet even that simple wish was denied her through a lack of empathy and neglect.
There are too many people who boast about not praising too much or showing appreciation. They tend to be unhappy, gloomy souls, lacking in self-esteem, who enjoy being mean to others to boost their feeling of power and control. But exactly what are they promoting? Selfishness? Being mean-spirited? Being uncaring and unsupportive? There can never be too much acknowledgement or praise for those we love. It’s a key part of our humanity as, without others, we would simply go mad from isolation.
Personally, I make a point of praising someone every day of my life, as one never knows the effect it will have , the way it might reinforce and affirm them, and the difference it is likely to make to them. However, I am always stuck with words like ‘nice’, ‘good’ ‘super’ to use in praising others, often sounding a little repetitive. Then this arrived in my email from someone in my network (thank you Hari!) and it is brilliant. Now I will never be stuck for choice words of praise any more.
I thought I’d pass the good words along and share them with you too…Why not make a list of your favourites for when you are stuck for words? I hope you feel as great getting them as I enjoyed giving them! :o)
Your challenge from now? To use at least two of them every single day to two different people, and encourage them to pass on the praise in a global happy chain! Our world might even be a much more loving and joyful place.
* Just Wow * Way To Go * Super * You’re Special * Outstanding * Excellent * Great * Good * Neat
* Well Done * Remarkable * I Knew You Could Do It * I’m Proud Of You * Fantastic * Superstar
* Nice Work * Looking Good * You’re On Top Of It * Beautiful * Now You’re Flying
* You’ve Got It * You’re Incredible * Bravo * You’re Fantastic *Hurray For You * You’re On Target
* You’re On Your Way * How Nice *How Smart * That’s Incredible * Dynamite *You’re Beautiful
* You’re Unique * Nothing Can Stop You Now *Good For You * I Like You * You’re A Winner
* Remarkable Job * Beautiful Work * Spectacular * You’re Smart * You’re a Darling
If you meet someone, fancy them to bits, desire a relationship and the other person is mainly interested in being ‘just friends’, get out of there fast! It might seem like a great idea, playing to the other person’s demands to be ‘friends’ with the hope of being something more to them later on, or just accepting whatever they say to be near them. But there are a lot of things wrong with this situation, of which the following are crucial.
1. People who desire ‘friendship’ above intimacy, when there is clearly some attraction between the couple, tend to have hidden agendas. They are either commitment-phobes who cannot bear to commit intimately to anyone, but still want that person’s company, or, by being ‘friends’ they prevent the other person from finding someone else, deliberately to keep the attention on them, yet have nothing intimate to offer the party. Or they simply wish to control the relationship on their terms, regardless of how the other person feels.
This is not a good situation at all because it means one person hands over their power to another who will be the decider of how long that ‘friendship’ lasts, and the rules they wish to play by, especially when any relationship between two people is usually decided by both. In fact, in these ‘friendship only’ cases, it is likely that the other party doesn’t fancy that person at all, but lacks the courage to say so, or just wish to keep the attention they’re getting.
2. You cannot have real friendship between a couple when the expectations are diverse. It means that only one person – the party controlling the relationship – will be getting what he/she wants. Worse still, the other party will be constantly yearning to move the friendship on, constantly hoping for something else and cannot do anything about it, perhaps wanting to hug them, embrace them and love them, but have to keep their distance. That can be sheer torture and causes a lot of negative feelings and unnecessary anxiety. In short, one person will always have to be hiding their true feelings and treading on eggshells to keep the ‘friendship’ going.
That is not a healthy way to live. The longer this goes on, the more anxious and inadequate one party will feel, as they are denied attention and affection, and the more stress there is likely to be between the couple, especially if any pressure is being put on the other person to change the relationship to a more intimate one.
3. You cannot mix sex and real friendship. Genuine friendship is a platonic state where we like that person without intimacy because we are attracted to them in a supportive rather than a sexual way. The best friendship between couples who share attraction usually comes when the sexual attraction has worn off, or has been addressed, and the two people now understand each other more, can value each other because of what they have experienced together and view each other from a position of mutual strength and respect. Once there is sexual attraction, that will dominate the friendship until it is sorted. Hence one cannot have a one-sided friendship where someone is really attracted to the other person intimately, yet they just want to be ‘friends’. No kind of real friendship can result from that mismatch. One person is simply being used for the other person’s benefit.
4. Most important, while the couple are concentrating on being ‘friends’, one of them is missing the opportunity to find their true date or mate. They could have been using that time to be available to someone else who genuinely fancies them, instead of hanging around a person who doesn’t. Not only that, they will feel very crappy and excluded when the so called ‘friend’ then fancies someone else and they are supposed to accept it readily without a murmur. That is usually the worst part of the deal: seeing the ‘friend’ going after others while the other party has to simply watch, grin and bear it, and say nothing.
Be clear about your friendships so that the boundaries do not blur. Be friends with someone you fancy, by all means, but only when you have found a partner, too, and they can see that friendship means just that – a platonic association – to both of you. You’ll then be befriending that person on your terms, too, instead of just being a puppet to theirs.
(NOTE: Paid subscribers, or significant Donors, can have their questions answered publicly. A private service is available separately.)
How often have you ended dating with someone and then promised each other to be ‘friends’ afterwards? Is that a good foundation for real friendship, or just to sugar-coat any rejection? Is real friendship possible after any intimacy? This podcast explains why that is a futile hope.
(Question.I have never tried to make friends after high school, and now I just feel I cannot even attempt to make friends. I live in a constant delusion of thinking people are evil and going to hurt me. I’m fairly intelligent and, but I think I have gone insane or something.)
Answer. You are not ‘insane’, but you obviously have some emotional fears that only a therapist might be able to dislodge. Thus it isn’t surprising that you find it hard to make friends with such anxious thoughts. First of all, if you go round believing people are evil, you will act like it, which then give off negative vibes that others can feel and they will stay away from you. After all, those pessimistic thoughts do nothing to uplift them, so why should they hang around you?
Secondly, not everyone can be evil because you are part of the world you inhabit, and it would mean that you are evil, too, which I am sure is not right. Those kind of universal thoughts tend to come from people with high rates of pessimism, low confidence, little trust in others, and who feel impotent to act upon their instincts or experiences. But we are not all clones of each other. Above all, Nature has given us a BALANCE in everything: good and bad, pleasure and pain, summer and winter. You won’t ever find totally one thing or the other in the world.
Third, it is TRUST and SHARING that give us friends. When we do no not trust others, they won’t trust us either, which means there will be no connection and nothing to share. You are approaching people with an accusatory perspective instead of a friendly, embracing one. There is nothing nice and wholesome to share with you, and so they would avoid you. Everything begins with our thoughts and if we are thinking only awful things, an awful which we project on to others, life is all we will have.
It sounds like you were hurt at some point and are using that hurt to judge everyone else. But we are all unique. If you do not treat others as individuals, but lump them all altogether to feed your fears, you are denying them their individuality. No two people are the same, so ditch the pain and hurt you are feeling, accept that both good and bad things happen in our lives each day and put it behind you. That’s how we all develop, by learning to accept and deal with the good and bad in life. When we are stuck back there in negativity we completely miss the present and the good things that life has to offer. Learn to take an interest in others, to get to know them before you judge them, and people will be drawn to you, too, because until you get to know someone, you will have no idea of their life journey.
Remember, you can only attract love with love, not love with evil. The two just don’t go together. You are obviously nursing some hurtful past which you are blaming on everyone else you meet. Stop the blame and the evil thoughts. Stop the self-focus, too, and start noticing, and valuing, the people in your world. Give them the chance to get to know you by working on your confidence, and you might even be surprised what happens next.
(NOTE: Paid subscribers, or significant Donors, can have their questions answered publicly. A private service is available separately.)
Many friendships and relationships break up primarily because pride and ego get in the way of agreement and harmony. Some people find it hard to apologise for anything, even though they know they did something wrong or inappropriate. They feel that it makes them look worse, or belittles them in some way. Yet they are likely to expect others to always apologise, so that they can feel ‘right’ or vindicated.
But saying ‘I’m sorry’ is not about being right or wrong. It is open contrition for any hurt you might have caused your friend, relative, colleague, or partner. It shows that you are empathising with them while you affirm them by showing how much they are valued. It is also about putting the relationship first, instead of the individuals involved; to seek a more enjoyable interaction based on equality, trust and appreciation, rather than a feeling of superiority or one-upmanship regarding who has the upper hand.
In fact, to be able to say ‘sorry’ easily and confidently, and mean it, does three main things for us:
1. It acknowledges our fallibility – and right – to make mistakes, to commit errors, and to not always get it right.
2. It affirms that our life is a journey of self development, and every step will be a learning tool to help us deal with similar actions in the future. Above all, it reinforces the fact that we are forever growing, and are not stagnant in our development. We really don’t have all the answers at any stage of life. There will always be something we need to learn.
3. It’s a sign of forgiveness for both parties, no matter who is at fault. It brings the problem to a conclusion, and moves on those involved in a more positive way.
When we ignore problematic interactions by not acknowledging their lessons, or refusing to accept that we were not quite right in our reaction, we deprive ourselves of learning the message, and are likely to keep repeating that pattern of behaviour, ad nauseam, while we blame others for being in the ‘wrong’.
The confident individual will be quick to say ‘sorry’, not because they are weak, or fearful of the other person, but because they recognise that no one is infallible, and the mark of a caring, responsible person is to own their actions.
Personally, I always apologise, especially when I sense that I might be at fault (Brits are notorious for saying ‘sorry’ without any reason!). If there is any doubt, I apologise anyway, with the hope that the other person will appreciate my efforts to understand their perspective. In that way we can put the matter behind us, resume good vibes, and have a more satisfying interaction, instead of having an obstacle to communication. However, if I sense that someone is repeatedly taking advantage and expecting me to apologise every time, I simply don’t, unless they demonstrate that they are acknowledging their own actions, too.
The main thing to remember is that our relationship with others who matter to us is far more important than being right or wrong. If the relationship is breaking, trivial things will assume priority. It means that we might feel momentarily good at not admitting our fallibility, or hurtful behaviour, but we could also lose a whole lot more if our egos take control.
You learn to say NO, and always be consistent, so that people know where you stand!
Loving and caring for others does not mean you say YES to everything they ask of you, because you cannot please everyone. That will also encourage them to take you for granted because they know you will always act according to their expectations. Additionally, when you say YES all the time, the moment you cannot oblige they will be disappointed, and perhaps upset.
When dealing with people in an environment of mutual respect, you have to establish certain rules with yourself to enjoy those friendships, boundaries that will gradually give you the confidence to be you, while showing them that you care, too.
The main rules should be;
Pleasing yourself first, and being yourself. Those who like you will stay close to you, while those who don’t, will pass you by. Don’t seek their approval, but always try to appreciate and accommodate them.
Be consistent in your actions. Soon everyone will know what to expect and how to treat you. If you keep changing your behaviour for approval, or to be liked, you will lose their respect.
Be sincere and confident in your reactions. You should be equally comfortable saying YES or No without having to explain yourself. Do remember that we all have the right to act how we feel so long as we are not harming others by that action.
Be there for them, but only within your own limits. Otherwise you will set up false expectations you cannot fulfil. For example, if you are ill you would be in no fit state to help another ill person, so recognising your own limitations is important to prevent disappointment and
Try to be empathetic without allowing yourself to lose your perspective. Don’t go overboard in trying to ‘fix’ things for others. They have to learn to take responsibility for their own lives so that they are not completely dependent upon you.
Just be you, and you will attract the kind of people who like your approach. You will also find it easier to be yourself without trying to impress or to fit in.
These simple guides do not provide all the answers but they should help to establish mutual appreciation and respect within your friendships.
It is difficult to encourage or ‘help’ anyone who has low self-esteem because the very fact that they do not believe in themselves, and think they are unworthy, will make them find it hard to accept anything positive that you might say. Self-esteem grows out of self-love, which starts from how we were treated in childhood, whether we were appreciated or not, or shown real value for just being ourselves. Low self-esteem begins internally because it is rooted in a lack of self-acceptance, a feeling of inadequacy, and being worthless.
Thus low self-esteem is a rejection of the self, a loathing for who we are, and when we don’t like ourselves, it is difficult for us to appreciate that others actually like us, perhaps thinking they are being insincere, and would always be questioning that love. In fact, it becomes hard work after a time trying to convince someone of low esteem how wonderful or amazing they are, because they can only see their perceived ‘faults’, and have no self-belief in their talents or goodness, hence why your friend has to help herself, because whatever you do is likely to be doubted or rejected.
People who have low self-esteem tend to be perfectionists who seldom measure up to their own high expectations in their own eyes. They are constantly comparing themselves to others, constantly beating themselves up for any little perceived error or fault, believing that everyone else is better than they are. In short, their life is dominated by FEAR, which is fed and maintained by the negative experiences they might have had, and a marked absence of trust, which fuel their suspicions, especially a fear of never being good enough. Based on an unrealistic assumption of perfection in others, this fear pushes them to place themselves below others, always comparing themselves in a futile way which makes them seem even more unworthy in their own eyes.
Only the low esteem person can change their situation. What they need is an acceptance of their own fallibility; to give themselves some slack; to stop the impossible expectations, stop beating themselves up for any mistakes, and stop finding constant fault with themselves. All you can do in the meantime is to reinforce any positive thing they say or do, while deliberately ignoring the negative ones.
For example, encourage her to be more positive about her life, especially giving gratitude for the people and blessings she has. Pay her regular compliments, and keep affirming her as a valued and worthwhile friend. But make sure that when you react to anything that is said, you react mainly to positive, enhancing things, and remain deliberately silent on any negative action that maintains the status quo. In that way, she should hopefully welcome the positive attention you give, which should make her want to act in ways that get her even more of it.
But helping people of low self esteem is no easy task, because the responsibility for their feeling and actions lies entirely with them, not with anyone else.
That is a form of showing empathy to you, or another person.
It’s one way of sharing someone else’s joy, by showing understanding of their situation, and wanting to demonstrate open support and encouragement. However, it is not always sincere, as shown in the following two contrasting instances:
When we care about someone and how they feel. Their happiness is our joy too, and we want to let them know it, especially when we are trying to please the person or to seek their approval.
When there is some insincerity or envy that is being masked by kind words. This is one way of not showing those feelings, but being ‘nice’ and ‘kind’ instead, with empty sympathetic words.
Those words show alignment and support where meant, while hiding other negative feelings when insincere.