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Some People Will Never Like You — Get Over It!

Updated on November 27, 2014
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Timothy Arends is a writer, graphic artist, webmaster and entertainer. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Berea College (Kentucky).

Your Self-Esteem Should Not Depend on Popularity

Are you obsessed with whether or not people like you? Does the fact that you might fail to make a good impression on someone cut you up terribly? Does your self-esteem depend upon how well liked you are by other people?

Well if so, stop it!

The simple fact is that you will never be liked by everybody. No matter how hard you may try, it will never happen. A few people may like you, the vast majority will be indifferent to you, and, yes, some will take an active disliking to you. That will always be the case, and you might as well get used to it and accept it.

Not Just Politics

I'm not simply talking about politicians here. We all know that nearly every politician, no matter how hard he or she may try to be liked by his or her constituents, will be lucky to get a majority approval rate. No matter how hard they may try to serve, they will be disliked or perhaps even despised by a large percentage of the population.

But this applies only to politicians, right? Surely we, as individuals, can be well liked by everybody we meet, at least as soon as they really get to know us? Right?

Wrong.

The late author, educator and social activist Dorothy Canfield Fisher was once giving a talk at a women's college. When asked how she handles a negative review of one of her books, she pointed out that no book will be received favorably by every reviewer, just as nobody can expect to be liked by everyone she meets.

And then the author noticed a strange thing: the young questioner's eyes widened and her face noticeably paled. The awful truth had never dawned on her! It had never occurred to her that anybody could ever possibly dislike her — no, not her!

Shyness and Likeability

It's nice to think that if one is simply a "good person" then he or she will be well-liked, but this is not necessarily the case. Some unquestionably good, caring, and decent people are occasionally disliked by others.

This is a particular issue for shy people. One of the basic characteristics of shyness is having difficulty putting oneself over to others, perhaps due to difficulty in making conversation, inadequate eye contact or other unconscious factors.

This can cause others to think of the shy person as uninteresting, unfriendly or even shiftless. Some people see past the shy person's timidity and recognize the worthwhile person behind it. But it would be a mistake to expect that everybody will.

Trying to be liked by everyone, or obsessing over whether you are, is merely the road to neuroticism. In fact, the very traits that will cause one person to like you may cause another to despise you!

For example, one person may interpret a quiet manner as being discreet and unassuming, while another will view it as being unfriendly and sullen. Having a sense of humor may be valued by some and disliked by others who see it as "frivolous" or not taking matters seriously.

It is true that some people can become more easily liked by more people than others, but nobody is liked by everyone.

The Mystery of Being Likeable

What's worse, none of us really understands the whole issue of likes and dislikes. The fact is present in everybody's life, and yet it remains a mystery.

You may be able to make a list of traits which you think will lead to somebody being well-liked, but there are no guarantees. Surely you know the charming rogue — the irresponsible fellow that you nevertheless couldn't help liking? By the same token, you probably know someone who was basically a good person but nevertheless always rubbed you the wrong way.

Although the problem of likes and dislikes affects every one of us, it never seems to be seriously discussed by writers, philosophers or psychologists. Very few books have been written on the subject.

Sure, there are some books on how to effect a veneer of likability in order to be a better salesman, but few books have gone much farther than that. Many self-help books have implied that if you merely adopt a policy of positive thinking, you will automatically be popular, successful and well liked. But most of the discussion of likability has been superficial, at best.

What is the answer then? It is to accept the fact that some of those we meet are bound to dislike us. It is a universal phenomenon that we might as well accept as philosophically as we accept the weather—simply because there is nothing we can do about it. Acceptance is the only way to inner peace.

My grandmother used to recite an old bit of doggerel that sums up the mystery of likes and dislikes rather neatly:

I do not like thee, Dr. Fell,

The reason why I cannot tell,

But this I know and know full well —

I do not like thee, Dr. Fell.

REBT - Overcoming Shyness

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    • moonlake profile image

      moonlake 20 months ago from America

      So true. I know a person everyone likes and I have to wonder why!

    • firstcookbooklady profile image

      Char Milbrett 2 years ago from Minnesota

      I think that most people are insecure and looking for love in other's eyes, also. The first impression, that first analysis - that first mutual analysis, will set the tone for further interactions. If you look at someone and acknowledge their presence, they will be more apt to acknowledge your presence. But, if you embarrass them before you ever get started, they may avoid any further contact.

    • TimArends profile image
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      Timothy Arends 2 years ago from Chicago Region

      Exactly right, peach, but accepting that can sometimes be the hardest thing of all!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 2 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      it doesn't matter who likes you or not, just be yourself, don't change to suit another.

    • TimArends profile image
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      Timothy Arends 4 years ago from Chicago Region

      I know, Nan, it can be really tough. The shy person can seem selectively friendly, and the selectively friendly person can seem shy. How do you know? None of us are mind readers.

      That's why I say you should try to be friendly with everybody, and if you don't "click" with some people, well, that's life.

    • profile image

      Nan 4 years ago

      I really enjoy your articles and really find them helpful. I just read your article about selectively friendly people and just want to say that while I agree this happens, sometimes a shy person can seem selectively friendly but is really just shy with people till they get to know them. I know this is true for me. Sometimes I am really shy around people and am intimidated for some reason. If they were to see me with my friends or people I know really well where I am talking and laughing and really friendly, they might think I was being selectively unfriendly with them.

    • profile image

      Minenhle Teba 5 years ago

      this is a really good video i say you should listen to it and make this account in yourlife

    • TimArends profile image
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      Timothy Arends 5 years ago from Chicago Region

      I hope it helps!

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      Kennith 5 years ago

      Thanks for this, it really helped my friend, or WILL if she finally starts reading the stuff I send her! Also, I like that last bit; I think it's summed up pretty well in today's words, too: "Haters gonna hate."

    • TimArends profile image
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      Timothy Arends 5 years ago from Chicago Region

      Thanks steffsings!

    • steffsings profile image

      steffsings 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      Great advice offered in a very truthful, effective, down-to-earth manner.

      Thanks.