Of course, we want people to like us, especially those who are close like our parents, children, extended family, friends and co-workers. But we won’t be able to stop bullying if being liked is more important than setting behavioral standards in our environment. In fact, there are people we actually want NOT to like us.
Think through everyone you know:
- Who do we want to like us and for what reasons? We think of this category easily. We want our loved ones to like us because we’re being us, and we hope they’ll be nice to us in return because they like us.
- Who don’t we care what they think about us? We usually don’t think of this group, but we don’t take it personally when a drunk doesn’t like our clothes or an ignorant personal gives medical or car repair advice or a real jerk doesn’t like our opinions.
- Who do we want NOT to like us and why? We usually don’t think like this but try it. Who do we know that they’d only like us if we did what they wanted, which would mean violating our spirits. Growing up during World War II, I always had examples of Hitler, Stalin and Mao. For them to like me I’d have to be silent or applaud when they killed people. But there are smaller and closer examples: co-workers who’ll like us if we didn’t report them embezzling; extended family members who’ll like us only if we allow them to continue beating or molesting children; toxic parents who’ll like us only if we take their abuse; selfish and demanding teenagers who’ll like us only if we give them everything they want to be entitled to; friends who’ll like us only if we allow them to scapegoat other people; spouses who will like us only if we accept their harassment, control and brutality.
I hope it’s clear and straightforward, even if it’s not easy. We’ll never stand up to bullies if we want them to like us. In order to protect ourselves and our loved ones we must stand against them. And they won’t like us. Well, that’s a good reason to be not-liked.
Many people think they’re being tested by everyone else and mostpeople decide they’re okay if they’re being liked. Instead, go through the world testing everyone else. Do they act decently? Do they want us to violate our standards in order to give them something?
Allow only those people who help raise both our behaviors into our personal environments. Following Rabindranath Tagore’s quote, I think of our “Isle of Song.” Only people whose behavior is worth my liking can get on my Isle of Song.
But if I don’t care whether I’m liked or not, how will I improve my behavior? Of course, I’m not suggesting that we act like uncaring jerks. I’m just selective about whose opinion matters and what they’re standards are for liking or not. We can watch ourselves and listen carefully to feedback from discerning people. And we can do better without agonizing over whether we’re liked by jerks…or by worse people.
We usually focus on the risks of not being liked when we think of protesting in order to protect and defend ourselves and our loved ones. There might be consequences, depending on the circumstances, so we must think strategically in deciding what to do. But we must not allow ourselves to be violated just because we want to be liked by the wrong people.
The greater risk is always in allowing ourselves to be bullied or brutalized. Actually there’s no risk in allowing that violation. Instead, there’s a guarantee that eventually the bullies with take our liberty, our freedom and everything we value most. Eventually, we’ll lose our souls.
More important than being liked is being the hero of your life!