What to do when someone doesn’t like you

Image from www.googleimages.com

Image from www.googleimages.com

“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.

  1. Remember that what other people think of you is none of your business.
  2. Understand that sometimes we misinterpret another person’s signals or emotions and we may be incorrect in thinking they don’t like us.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Stay safe. Value yourself and your physical, emotional and spiritual well-being above what other people think of you.
  7. 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.

Revolutions

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.

two paths

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…

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Silver Lining – A journal exercise for finding the upside

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.  ~Buddha

Writing is a powerful tool for self discovery, healing and expansion.  In fact, it’s one of my favourite things to do. Today I’m sharing some journal starters for exploring things I have considered to be negative in my life, in order that I might mine that situation or relationship to find the positives and gifts within it.  I’ve found this activity to be a great comfort over the years, and it has enabled me at times to radically shift my perspective to one which is much more positive.

The one thing that is non-negotiable in this exercise is that you MUST look for a positive – that silver lining on the thundercloud in your life.

One of the things that still stands out for me is the day I heard that a dear friend had been badly injured in a parachuting accident (from which he later died). It marked the beginning of a series of terrible and unforeseen events in our life.  But it also gave me an insight that left me better able to cope with what lay ahead.

What happened on that day remains one of the most precious memories of my life.  We were all in shock, but I had organised for my grandmothers to come for lunch, and I needed to pick one of them up from across town. Life still went on, and the lunch had been planned and looked forward to for months. It was the middle of an Australian summer,  a heatwave no less, and the weekend before Christmas.  I pulled into the madness of a suburban shopping centre to buy cream before I collected Nana.

As I stepped out of the car I was almost bowled over by two things, the heat and my grief. The world slowed right down.  I remember thinking that John must be dying. I stood beside my car as if I was suspended in time. Around me shoppers rushed on in the Christmas chaos, ignorant of the fact that this dear man was taking his last breaths. How could the world keep turning, I wondered.  Why didn’t it look any different?

I felt suddenly connected to an unseen group of people around Brisbane, around the world, who were similarly out of the flow of time, locked into grief or despair or helplessness or loss.  I became acutely aware of the heat, the smell of the melting tar beneath my feet and the gum-leaves on the nearby trees.  Green parrots squawked and fought above my head, and tiny clusters of blossom fell at my feet, like some strange sort of summer snow.  I was struck by the intense beauty of the moment, and of how everyone around me was oblivious to it.  I heard my own heart beating in my chest, was aware of every breath, and felt as if I was seeing the world with new eyes. I became overwhelmed with a sense of how precious and fragile and miraculous our existence is, and my despair was replaced with an avalanche of gratitude.

The intensity and gratitude of that moment has never left me.  It became the silver lining to an awful time on my life.

Here are my journal starters.  Use one, any or all of them to get you into writing flow, and to help you focus on the silver lining rather than the cloud.

On relationships that failed:

  • One good thing about (insert person’s name) that I am still grateful for is…
  • If I hadn’t met (insert person’s name) I never would have…
  • One positive thing I learned about myself from that relationship is…
  • One thing I won’t ever do again is…
  • The best thing about this relationship ending is that…

On death, loss and sorrow:

  • One of the happiest memories of (insert person’s name) that I cherish is…
  • (Insert person’s name) taught me…
  • Because of (insert person’s name) I have learned…
  • One thing I will always carry with me in my heart is…
  • We always laughed about…
  • One crazy thing that always reminds me of (insert person’s name) is…
  • One way I can honour their memory is to…
  • One way I can make the most of my own life is…

On making mistakes:

  • The thing I learned from all of this is…
  • If I hadn’t stuffed up I never would have been able to…
  • The one thing this has clarified for me is…
  • One person who’s been really great in all of this is…
  • The thing I’ll do differently next time is…
  • At least I’ve realised…

On diminishment (you being somehow made smaller or less able)  and disappointment:

  • I may not be able to (insert the diminishment) but I can still…
  • I still have the power to…
  • For now I can focus my energies on…
  • This gives me more time to…
  • For now this door is closed to me.  Other doors that are open include…
  • If I’m being made to stop, or slow down, at least I can use this change of pace to…

On people who’ve treated you badly:

  • Because of you, I’ve decided to never…
  • You’ve made me realise that I am better than that because…
  • You’ve shown me how NOT to be in the world.  I’ve learned that…
  • Because you couldn’t give me (love, respect, attention, guidance, honesty, kindness – insert whatever was missing in your relationship) I’ve discovered and grown this great strength in me.  I learned to be the thing you could not do for me.  I have become…
  • The good thing to come out of all of this is…
  • I deserve more because…
  • I believe that the right way to treat people is to…

Summaries:

  • From the hard times in my life I’ve learned that…
  • My greatest personal strengths are…
  • I’m proud of myself that…
  • I’m amazed that I have been able to…
  • One of the best things to come from all of this is…
  • The way I can now help others is…