*Four Minute Read (Para leer en español, haga clic aquí)
I don’t really care if people like me. It took me until the ripe age of about 40 to figure this out, but I don’t. I want, need, and work towards mutual respect and kindness, but I don’t really care if other people like me or not.
I also don’t really like all people. My goal, again, is always to treat everyone with mutual respect and kindness, but I simply don’t like everyone. Some people just aren’t my cup of tea. And I’m certainly not everyone’s cup of tea either.
When I first started trying to own this idea and find security in not being concerned if people like me and me not liking everyone, it was very hard. I was greatly accustomed to looking for external validation and struggled to find my own sense of confidence and self-assurance.
I had to remind myself regularly that if someone doesn’t like me and if I don’t like them, then they simply aren’t “my people.” An author I follow (Glennon Doyle) often writes about this idea and reading her words helped me embrace them for myself. I started trying to recognize and be aware of how I was feeling when I left conversations or interactions with others. Did I walk away feeling fulfilled and heard? Or did I walk away feeling empty and disconnected? If it’s the latter, they likely aren’t “my people.”
I’ve found that “my people” understand me. “My people” will love and support me in the way I need to be loved and supported. This doesn’t mean they can read my mind and know what I need inherently, but it means when I effectively communicate what I need they will work to try to meet those needs. And I do the same for them in return.
Once I was able to correctly identify (and felt comfortable admitting) the relationships with those who weren’t “my people,” I learned to set boundaries around these relationships. This helped me own and take better control of my responsibility in these relationships. This also ultimately meant some long-standing friendships shifted or even ended but, in turn, allowed space for deeper and more meaningful relationships to develop with others.
I stopped putting energy into relationships that were dragging me down and leaving me feeling depleted and instead put energy into relationships that were more fulfilling and bolstered me in the direction I had set for my life.
As I continued to sort through the important relationships in my life and identify “my people” though, there was one person who was deeply important and stuck out. One person who I truly did care about whether they liked me at the end of the day. A person whose opinion was vitally important to my peace of mind and maintaining balance in my life. That person is me.
I can find ways to maintain and have a healthy relationship with everyone in my life that I need to have a relationship with whether I like them or not. But I don’t want to just have a relationship with myself. I want to like myself. I want to feel proud of myself. I want to LOVE myself!
A question I often ask when I’m going to sleep each night is, “Do I feel proud of the person I was today?” I think about whether I’m treating and loving others the way they want to be treated and loved. If the answer is anything but yes, it’s a sign I need to pause and really think through whatever might be happening and other options I may have moving forward.
And because I care more about liking myself than the approval of others, I’m willing to risk potentially upsetting someone to be true to myself. This means it’s more important to outwardly share my concerns with the racial injustices in our country than it is to risk possibly creating a rift in a friendship. It means asking strangers to wear a mask and/or to stay at least 6’ feet away when I’m at the grocery store during the COVID pandemic. And it also means fiercely protecting my family’s physical and emotional health in the way that feels safest to me, regardless if it’s what others agree with or not.
This can be incredibly challenging. But if I think back to that question I ask myself at night, it easily leads me to the decision that best represents myself with less concern for the approval of others. This is a way I set boundaries around relationships. Identifying what I need to do for myself and recognizing “my people” see, hear, and value me enough to stand by me with respect and kindness whether they agree with me or not.
We can’t control if other people like us or not. And often when people don’t like us, it’s much more a reflection of themselves than anything we may have said or done. We can, however, completely control how we feel about ourselves. We are in total control of our behaviors and our responses to the behavior of others. So why not fill our own cups with as much love and support as possible?
Loving yourself is one of the greatest gifts!
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Stevie Cromer is the Cultural and Enrichment Manager for LUNA Language Services. Stevie regularly provides engaging content to LUNA’s team to encourage a culture of care within our own LUNA family. For more suggestions and resources about how you might build a culture of care throughout your organization, please reach out to Stevie at stevie@LUNA360.com.