In This Episode:
- The difference between wanting to be liked and needing to be liked
- How needing to be liked is a symptom of the patriarchy
- How to release the need to be liked
Listen to the podcast here:
Needing To Be Liked Is Keeping You Stuck
Human beings are inherently social creatures. We are biologically hardwired for social contact and relationships and a sense of belonging. While we can largely survive on a basic level without these things, we all generally want to be liked by our peers and family members.
There’s a difference between wanting to be liked and needing to be liked. We’re going to discuss how needing to be liked is both a symptom of the patriarchy and keeping you stuck. Let’s get started.
Subtle as it may be, there is a difference between wanting to be liked and needing to be liked. Wanting to be liked and accepted is human, so it’s normal. We all have the desire and need to be liked somewhere deep down.
You may not want to be liked by everyone, which is very healthy of you but you have a core group of people, whether it’s family or friends that you want to be liked by.
It’s completely normal because no one exists in total isolation in a healthy way for very long. I can attest that this is true even people like me who enjoy being alone or by themselves a lot of the time. Needing to be liked is a whole other level.
When you need to be liked, you’re more likely to do things that might be wrong or out of character. You’re constantly trying to please everyone.
You’ll stay silent about things that are uncomfortable, potentially immoral, etc. so you’re not ostracized. You’ll do things you don’t want to do to maintain your friend group.
This can be something as simple as you’ll go to a restaurant you don’t want to go to, or as big as you’ll do something that’s totally against your character or moral compass. You can feel intense anxiety when someone gets upset with you. Holy shit, can I relate to that completely.
I think that specially women definitely toe the line between being liked and being respected and that’s like, “Welcome to patriarchy. Population, all women.” Because the good girl always says yes and puts others first and therefore, everyone likes her.
If you’re socialized as a female in our society, you’re taught nearly from birth that your inherent worth lies in what other people think of you. You’re told to be agreeable and personable, friendly, kind, smile. Everyone loves to be told to smile. You’re told to put other’s needs ahead of your own.
You’re taught to prioritize everyone else at your own expense, and so many women report not even being able to say no in uncomfortable situations because they don’t know-how.
Being able to gracefully say no or even not so gracefully say no and not feel bad about it, not feel like you owe someone an explanation, not feel like you have to justify why you’ve said no is difficult if you’re taught to always say yes.
Patriarchal conditioning of girls and women leaves us with low self-esteem and even lower self-confidence, and just add that ingrained learning from childhood to an overall modern-day obsession with perfection. You’ve got what amounts to a veritable breeding ground for needing to be liked.
You see that in culture, in eating disorders, in beauty culture and beauty standards. You see it in dieting, motherhood, and an obsession with getting more likes and being perfect especially on social media. The fact that we need so many posts for us to tell us that social media is a highlight reel and not reality.
The fact that we need to program that reminder into us over and over again is such a huge clue that we’re all striving for perfection.
If you’re a person who needs to be liked in that deep way where you feel like something is wrong with you inherently if people don’t like you, even if it’s one person, even if it’s a person who you don’t even like yourself, if you feel like you need to be liked, then social media can be a real pitfall for you.
You’re like, “I can’t put that out unless it’s perfect. I can’t say anything that will make me look bad. I can’t say anything bad about anyone.” It’s kind of culture. You’re also going to see it in movies and TV and music.
There’s just evidence everywhere that as a woman, if you are quietly doing what everyone expects of you, that’s the way to be popular, to be liked and to be comfortable or more to the point to keep others comfortable. It’s to not make other people uncomfortable.
That’s what you being agreeable is all about, which is why you’re desperate need to be liked is essentially at your own expense. It’s at the expense of your desires, your own mental and emotional wellbeing.
It’s not healthy and sustainable. It is most certainly keeping you stuck in your life and your business. I can totally relate to this because needing to be liked is absolutely something that has kept me stuck in both life and business, especially the biggest examples I can think of are in business.
When you’re conditioned so intensely for so long, and when that conditioning is modeled to you in the media, and even in your family unit, it’s hard to get away from it.
Your conditioned thoughts are the things that pop into your head before you even realized you’re thinking about something. It takes a conscious effort to beat that conditioning back and do what you want to do, what’s right for yourself rather than do what you’re conditioned to do.
Conditioning is what pops up immediately and conscious thought like who you choose to be is what comes after that. In the earliest days of my business especially, I made so many decisions based solely on what others might think of me and not what I wanted or needed.
This was everything from, “What should I charge?” to, “What should I specialize in?” These weren’t small decisions like, how many times a day should I post on social media? These were big decisions about like how much money am I bringing in? That kind of thing.
What’s somebody going to think about me if I charge this much for my services? Are they going to think that I’m greedy? Are they going to think that I’m not qualified? I’ll charge less to be safe. Those are the kinds of thoughts that I was having in my brain. I’ve had to do a lot of work around getting rid of those.
I’ve dragged my feet on letting clients go. I’m sure this one is super common because I was afraid that they would be disappointed or I would be letting them down. Never mind that they were draining both little fucking life out of me.When you need to be liked, you're more likely to do things that might be wrong or out of character. Click To Tweet
I was worried about them and how they would feel how they would take it and whether or not they would be upset more than I was worried about my comfort or my mental health in this situation.
There have been several instances where I’ve spent months figuring out and making myself okay with business pivots. I’ve pivoted a lot. I’m now an expert in this. I’ve given several talks in group masterminds about pivoting your business well.
I’ve definitely put them off for months because I was busy agonizing over what others would think of the pivot and whether or not I would look like I was flighty or untrustworthy. Including launching this podcast.
I mentioned in one of the earlier episodes that I put this decision off for a while because it was scary and I was like, “What are people going to think of me if I launch a podcast like this?” I would say that needing to be liked definitely kept me from starting this podcast for a good six-plus months.
I’ve spent way too much time agonizing over whether or not to cut off a friendship. I’m someone who is fiercely loyal to my friends. I will give you many benefits of the doubt and there was a period of my life where I didn’t even realize it was an option for cutting off toxic family and friends.
I think this started originally with my dad. I decided to cut him off completely in 2016 for my mental health and well-being. I didn’t even realize it was an option until a friend mentioned it to me.
She was like, “You know that you don’t have to talk to him just because he’s your dad if he makes you feel so terrible all the time.” I was like, “No, I had no idea that that was an option.”
It’s a muscle I have to stretch now because even in society, you want to know what other people think about you. You want them to approve of you. Society tells you that you need that and so the idea of relearning that that’s not necessarily true is revolutionary and you open up a whole new world for it.
It’s difficult to make those decisions for sure, especially when it comes to family or friend groups where you have a lot of mutual friends in common. It definitely becomes a sticky situation but I will say that it is navigable. I don’t speak to my father but both of my siblings do and it works fine for us.
There have been far too many times in the early days of my feminism to where I have not called someone out on something they’ve done or I’ve gone along with something so that I wasn’t kicked out of that particular friend group or bullied.
That goes back to, “Yeah, I can leave friendships that aren’t serving me anymore.” Every time I grow, I feel like I lose a couple of friends that were still hanging on from old ways of thinking. They haven’t grown along with me, so they’re stuck in their old ways of thinking and we’re not a match anymore.
I moved on from that friendship and being able to do that is so much nicer because I’m not responsible for other people in how they think and how they react to situations. I’m only responsible for myself and I get to make those choices for myself.
Being able to move out of those situations doesn’t keep me stuck anymore, which is great. It is not easy to break out of the cycle. This is five-plus years’ worth of work that I’ve been doing consciously on a daily basis to move beyond this need to be liked.
I would still say I have a lot of work left to go. I think it’s almost a daily reminder of I get to choose what I want. It doesn’t matter if people like me or not. I was raised in an environment where going against the status quo was actively discouraged.
We’re seeking approval from my dad especially, but both my parents and permission to exist as myself was standard in my house growing up. Approval was survival. If you did something that my parents did not approve of, there was typically hell to pay.
Needing to be liked or validated by others is always going to keep you stuck. It has certainly kept me stuck in many instances because it’s always going to prioritize someone else’s opinion or needs over your own.
Someone else’s happiness over your own and someone else’s well-being over your own. It’s always going to put someone else first rather than yourself.
When you need others to like you, it’s generally because you don’t like yourself. I’m speaking completely from personal experience. I fucking struggle with not liking myself many days of the week.
I’m working with a mindset coach who’s bringing all of this to the surface for me. It reminds me of a time when a friend of mine went to therapy and she had never been to therapy before.
She said, “I’m bringing up so many things with my therapist that I’ve kept buried for so long. Now I’m feeling all the emotions that I haven’t allowed myself to feel for the past years. I just feel like crying all of the time.”
When you do this work, it brings up so many uncomfortable things that you push down with staying busy and putting others first and needing to be like. When you’re focused on pleasing other people, you don’t have the mental space to figure out why you’re doing that.
What is it that you’re avoiding by pleasing other people? There’s an uncomfortableness in choosing to make other people upset with you rather than doing what it is that they want.
The good news is that you can get out of the trap of needing to be liked. Instead, live with the very human desire of wanting to be liked, but also being okay with not being liked by people.
You do that by learning to like yourself or dare I say, love yourself unconditionally. When you love yourself, when you put yourself and your needs first, then you can release that desire for external approval.
This isn’t a one-time thing. This is something that you do over and over again every day until the conditioning is automatically overtaken by your conscious thought of, “No, we’re not going to do that.”
The conditioning will still be there because you’ll still be absorbing messages from social media, from your family, from your friends of, “Put other’s needs before your own, make yourself small, be likable.”When you love yourself and put your needs first, you can release that desire for external approval. Click To Tweet
The conditioning will always be there but doing this work on a conscious level allows you to say, “I’m not going to do this anymore. I’m going to choose something else for myself.” This is super powerful because this work is hard and fucking uncomfortable but in the end, it’s always worth it.
I tell my mindset coach all the time, “This work is hard and I don’t like it.” She’s like, “That’s okay. You don’t have to like it. It’s exactly what you should be doing.” When you don’t need external approval, you can take that next step in your business. You can join the club. You can go on that trip.
You can take that class that you want to take and you can tell the patriarchy to just fuck right off, which is always my favorite thing to do to the patriarchy. That’s it for me. Stay healthy, wear a mask, wash your hands and I will see you on the flip side.