As it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I felt discussing topics affecting our mental well-being was important. And one primary source of emotional imbalance is stress, which is often overlooked. A contributing cause of this stress is the need to be liked by everyone.
As a woman in my 30s, I can reflect and think about this thread of desire that ran through me, especially during my 20s, and how far away I am from that feeling or desire now. In my clinic, I speak with clients of all ages who often get caught up in the belief that everyone should like them or that they are responsible for making everyone happy, adding extra pressure to their lives and causing them to get trapped in this emotional wheel of continuous questioning, wondering and thinking about why someone has treated them a certain way that is not aligned with their values. This then creates a vein of subconscious stress that runs through their lives, impacting their emotional and physical well-being.
I’ve been there, too. In fact, I spent years mulling over the same thing, wondering if I had done something wrong. The reality is, I had not! It took time, but I made peace with the fact that I was not responsible for someone else’s lack of compassion, empathy or kindness.
When we can truly grow, enter change, and move forward from a situation, relieving us from chronic stress, we realise that not everyone will like us no matter what we do and that my friend is okay because it is not your problem to carry! The sooner we come to peace with this, the sooner we can lay the seeds to grow.
So in this blog post, I’ll explore the importance of letting go of the need to be liked, how doing so can improve our mental health, and how I work with my clients to build strength and emotional balance.
The Energy and Time Wasted
One major reason why it’s essential to let go of the need to be liked is that it wastes our precious energy and time! I speak with clients who have spent months, years, or even decades trying to please people, trying to make others happy, seeking validation, and worrying about what people think of them—leading them to burnout, breakdown, and disappointment.
Trying to please everyone or worrying about what others think of us can drain us physically, mentally, and emotionally. They are taking us away from what we must do, such as caring for ourselves and our responsibilities. When we stop seeking external validation and approval, we can redirect that energy and time toward pursuing our goals and caring for our emotional health.
Another benefit of letting go of the need to be liked is embracing our true selves. When we stop trying to mold ourselves into what others want us to be or living from a place of expectations or ego, we can discover our authentic selves and take action steps to grow into that person. Embracing authenticity can involve one of the most simple initial tasks, such as writing down five things you value about yourself, followed by five things you enjoy doing and are passionate about. This simple task can remind us of who we are, what we truly desire, and how we want to live our lives—forgetting the energy you put into how you want others to perceive you. Because your job in life is not to change how others feel or view you.
These tasks can help us build confidence and self-esteem, essential for good mental health. It can also improve our relationships with others since they can see and accept us for who we are.
Allowing Room for Growth and Learning
Moreover, letting go of the need to be liked can allow room for growth and learning. When we get preoccupied with seeking validation from others, we may stick to our comfort zones and avoid taking risks, essentially holding us back from what we truly desire. Something I see in the clinic from clients is repeated behavioral patterns and expecting a different outcome. So how can things change if we don’t make some changes?
We can learn and grow by embracing failure and taking risks. If you fail at something, you are not a bad person. If you disagree with someone, you are not a bad person. You are not a bad person if you take a chance on something and it doesn’t work out. You are a human.
This simple thought process of letting go can open up opportunities and possibilities we may not have considered before, leading to personal and professional growth. My most significant emotional growth and healing spurs have come from some of my biggest failures.
Reducing Anxiety and Depression
Finally, the need to be liked can cause anxiety and depression on so many different levels, and I encourage all my clients to live from a place of authenticity and to adopt the mindset of simply not giving a f*ck about what people think of you. We can so easily develop negative thought patterns when we constantly fear rejection or disapproval and become overly critical of ourselves. This can lead to negative self-talk and a lack of self-worth, holding us back from what we want to achieve. When we let go of the need to seek validation from others, we can reduce anxiety and depression by focusing on our values and self-love.
Unfortunately, the need to be liked is a common source of stress and anxiety. But it’s essential to let go of this need and focus on our internal validation and self-love instead. Doing so can redirect our energy and time towards pursuing our goals, embracing our authentic selves, allowing room for growth and learning, and reducing anxiety and depression. During Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond, it’s essential to prioritise our emotional well-being and remember that it’s okay if not everyone likes us. They simply don’t have to. What matters most is that we understand and like ourselves.
You are unique, wonderful, and incomparable. x