I have a confession: I often feel like no-one likes me. It doesn’t matter if I’m with old friends or at a party with strangers; I just can’t shake the feeling that people dislike me. Believe it or not, I often ask my husband of seven years, “Do you like me?”.
The thing is, I know that people do like me. Some friends have even literally said to me, “I like you, and I want to spend time with you.” So why do I find it so hard to believe that I am a likeable person?
In thinking that I’m unlikeable, I’ve actually sabotaged myself. I won’t make the time to see my friends and it’s also affected my work life. Throughout my career I’ve often lost confidence because I’m convinced that my managers don’t like me.
Is this feeling normal?
Maria Faustino, a psychologist from Marquee Health Clinic, assured me that it’s “quite common” to feel worried and anxious about what other people think of us, especially in social situations. Many also experience the physical reactions like blushing, sweating, tensing muscles, a raised heart rate and “butterflies” in the stomach.
Situations when we feel “evaluated, such as when you’re on a first date or meeting new people,” can also bring on those thoughts and feelings.
Why do we want to be liked?
Well, it’s this simple: “We feel good about ourselves after a positive interaction with our loved ones,” explains Maria.
There may also be an evolutionary reason behind our desire to be liked. “Being part of a ‘group’ may be associated with survival back in the days when humans did not have modern technology and civilisations to feel safe.”
What should I do?
First of all, don’t stop socialising with people as it won’t help in the long term.
“There are some people who find these emotions so distressing that they try to avoid these types of situations at all costs,” warns Maria.
“Avoidance may help reduce anxiety in the short-term, however in the long-term it might actually stop us from being happy and achieving the social relationships that we desire.”
And also, don’t forget this golden rule:
“Being yourself is really important,” emphasises Maria.
I often try to put on an “act” of being more friendly and happy than I actually am but now I’m going to put a stop to it.
“If we put on a ‘show’, we may end up feeling unsatisfied and leaving the situation thinking, ‘They might only like me because I pretended to be someone else’.”
Good advice, indeed.
Tips to help you shake the feeling.
If, like me, you struggle with believing that you’re likeable there are some strategies that will have you relaxing and enjoying social situations.