. . . is a crippling disease. People let others walk all over them at home, at school, at work, among friends, etc. guided by this dangerous and unproductive need.
If you suffer from this illness, I suggest the following remedies:
- realize that you cannot be liked by everybody no matter what you do and how much you sacrifice. Some people won’t like you by default. If you perceive this simple fact of objective reality as tragic or hurtful, you really need to get over yourself. Just think about all the people you don’t like. Does it look like they are suffering as a result of your dislike of them? Or are they, rather, quite happy, rosy, and plump?
- choose a small group of people whom you really want to like you. Make sure everybody in this group really matters and is worth the effort. Then – and this is the most crucial part – establish the lengths you are willing to go to in order to please them. It is useful to write this down. What are the things you are never going to sacrifice to be liked even by these crucially important people? Make a list of such things and reread it on regular occasions.
People keep telling me that my all too methodical approach to interpersonal relationships is cold and even scary. But it works and that’s what matters. Right now I’m seeing a very good person of quite an advanced age being demolished personally and professionally because he can’t get over the need to please everybody in sight. And you know what is the only payback he gets from all this? People lose respect for him and trample on him with glee. Not all people, of course, but enough to make the poor man utterly miserable.
You are not a $100 bill. You are not supposed to be liked by everybody. The only person who really needs to like you is yourself. And everybody else can just go stand outside.