●︎ Do they like what I do?
●︎ Do they like what I say?
●︎ Do they like what I think?
●︎ Do they like what I create?
●︎ Do they like how I look?
●︎ Do they like me?
Ok. Hands up if you have said or felt one of these. My guess is that everyone reading this would have one – if not two – up in the air. Whether it’s at work, before you post that gorgeous selfie on instagram, or even while having coffee with your friends, “Do they like me—do they really like me?!” thoughts love to just pop right up!
Did you know – our need for social acceptance grew out of our desire to physically survive, like literally, to stay alive. Back in the olden days, we had to actually build our own shelter, find the food, and defend ourselves from others, every single day. Exhausting. We soon learnt (we as in, humans) that all of this was all a lot easier to do in a team. To join a crew: You had to either have a skill that would benefit the group and/or be liked by people in the group…
Our brains, though very clever and complex, haven’t really caught up to the fact that we’re not defending ourselves from wild animals anymore – so we continue to people please. We are hardwired to seek acceptance and avoid rejection. Some more than others. Which can actually stop us from finding and living as our true selves.
“The very qualities that make you likable to one person are the exact same qualities that will make you unlikable to another person.”
– Roger Covin, Ph.D.
Simple things to do to try and move past all of this, is to really check in with yourself. Who are you doing this for? Remembering that disapproval is actually very normal.
‘Oh just stop caring what people think’, is never going to work instantly, but we can take the time to put in some work to start the foundations of simply living for ourselves, and not for outside acceptance.
I put this on my instagram stories yesterday, and got such a lot of people who related, and offered amazing advice! It seems we are all going through similar thought processes at some point in our lives – remember, this thing is hardwired in us—so it takes time and practice to change it up.
Start small by pursuing one thing a day just for you, not the approval, retweets, or likes of someone else.
Maybe it’s watching something totally trashy on TV that has bad reviews, and your friends would judge you for… moving your body in a way that feels better for you, than running with your pal so they still like you. Maybe sticking some Beyonce on and doing your own performance in front of your bedroom mirror. Just for you.
“Start asking yourself questions like, what do I value? What keeps me awake at night? How is it that I prefer to spend my time?” Start to listen to what you really want for your life, and align your actions with your values, principles, and goals. Instead of making decisions based on what others will approve of, start making them based on what’s right for you.
I am still very much learning with this! It can take some time, but I acknowledge it these days. One thing about living away from where you grew up, is making connections all over again. It can sometimes feel like you’re in the playground waiting for people to accept you into their crew. Barcelona especially feels like a very transitional place at times, and I for one have struggled with meaningful connections here. I am so happy that I do have some great friends, but it can be difficult to find!
I would love to know your tips and thoughts on this!