“You have people come into your life shockingly and surprisingly. You have losses that you never thought you’d experience. You have rejection and you have learn how to deal with that and how to get up the next day and go on with it.” ~ Taylor Swift
I’ve had so many private messages about this subject since yesterday’s post that I thought it timely to address the issue of what to do when someone doesn’t like you.
This is an especially hard subject for sensitive people. We don’t have that thick skin that helps protect others. But one of the great truths of life is this:
There will always be people who love us. There will always be people who like us. There will always be people who are indifferent. There will be people who don’t know us yet, many of whom never will. There will be people who don’t like us. There will be people who don’t get us at all, or who are strongly positioned against us ( I choose not to use the word ‘hate’). Life covers the full spectrum of experience from closeness to rejection.
It hurts to be rejected. It hurts to be misunderstood. It hurts to be judged. But there are some things we can do to help us cope better.
- Remember that what other people think of you is none of your business.
- Understand that sometimes we misinterpret another person’s signals or emotions and we may be incorrect in thinking they don’t like us.
- Know that humans are complex and irrational. Someone might not like you because you disagree on politics or same-sex-marriage or which direction a toilet roll should roll. You might remind them of their mother, or their mean next-door-neighbour, or the first date who rejected THEM. They might not even make a conscious connection to that fact – instead, it is a protection mechanism for them that has NOTHING to do with you.
- Sometimes people like us, or they certainly don’t dislike us, but they behave differently to our expectations, and we judge their ‘love’ based on measuring their behaviour against what we have come to expect from other people. For example, some families hug, and some don’t. If we come from a family of huggers, we might interpret people not hugging us as a sign of rejection, when in fact non-huggers just have a different approach to relationships.
- Embrace the fact that you don’t need to ‘fix’ it. Of course if it’s an ex and you have to share parenting, or it’s your spouse’s parents, you may need to find a way to exist within each other’s Universe that minimizes stress and aggravation. There are resources and techniques to help us cope with difficult people. Seek them out.
- Stay safe. Value yourself and your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being above what other people think of you.
- Don’t hang out with people who are mean, who put you down and treat you like dirt. Seriously. Go read a book, watch a movie, learn a language, make art. Do anything other than knowingly put yourself back into situations that distress and devalue you.
As to strategies for ‘winning people over’? Is it worth putting that much energy into? We can become so obsessed with the one relationship that isn’t working that we neglect the ones that are. Or we keep modifying our behaviour, trying to change into someone we’re not, until we no longer know who we are anymore. It might be time to look at why you have such a strong need to be liked, or why you are reacting so strongly to the current situation.
If you are pushed into a fear or flight response, if you find yourself moving into anxiety, illness or depression as a result of a difficult relationship seek counselling. Not to ‘heal’ the relationship, but to give you strategies for better coping with the situation, or helping you walk away, if that is what’s needed.
The more that you develop a healthy respect and regard for yourself, and find relationships that support you, the less it will bother you when someone else doesn’t like you.
Something that has helped me enormously is to realise that everyone is on their own path, and our paths may go in opposite directions or may only marginally intersect. That’s okay. We are all different and that’s what makes life so interesting. It’s all about choices. No need to take it so personally. You don’t have to like them, and they don’t have to like you.
Practice emotional maturity, kindness and use good manners. There is no need to return the dislike or negative emotion. Limit your exposure or walk away. Always step away from aggression and bullying, or call it in – no-one needs to put up with that kind of behaviour – whether it’s in the workplace or your own family.
Know that some relationships will change over time. People can grow away from each other, or towards each other. Some friendships take time to develop. One of the happiest couples I know (and they’ve been married over twenty years!) couldn’t stand each other when they first met.
From a spiritual perspective, this has worked for me with great effect:
Build up a feeling of love and compassion in your heart. Then think of the person who doesn’t like you. Hold their face in your mind. Say to yourself “I forgive you. I love you and I bless you and I set you free. Go well in the world.” Really do all you can to mean those words as you say them.
Then think of yourself, and say “I love you (insert your name). I forgive you and I bless you and I set you free. All is well.”
I’ll let Yoda and William Shakespeare have the last word…