We all want to be liked. On a primitive level we recognise that animals who are not part of a herd are vulnerable to predators, often unable to survive alone. We want to be safe, accepted and comfortably part of the gang.
Over time we may see that many of our 'friends' are there through circumstance rather than being kindred spirits. We simply work in the same place, attend the same gym, have children at the same school. Remember this if you're feeling disliked!
We may gradually realise that being liked or disliked is about someone else's perception of us, what's going on in their lives, how they’re feeling, rather than being about us. Are we highlighting their shortcomings, disagreeing with their views, doing something they find hard to accept?
By voicing a contradictory opinion, perhaps commenting on someone's behaviour, values or priorities we become the 'bad guy' in the equation, easy to dislike, even though our comments have been informed by them.
It’s tough if we don't agree or dare to contradict and find ourselves categorised as difficult or argumentative. Times together can become tense, stressful experiences, especially if others say nothing, fearful of any backlash.
Being different can cause us to be disliked and yet we often enthuse over items that are quirky, unusual, unique. There may be fear or hesitancy at attracting the wrong kind of attention if things don’t work out. Remind yourself you had a go, tried your best and shouldn't regret that.
Success and working hard can irritate others by forcing them to face their own inaction and lack of motivation, even though they'd never be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices or do the work. Is it jealousy? Just because they do very little with their time doesn't mean you should tone down to fit in with them!
Social media used to be about courting likes, shares and followers. Now the rules are changing due to young people being negatively affected when their posts weren’t really popular.
When we're not liked we can feel criticised and vulnerable. But question; surely it’s okay not to be liked by everyone? Keeping our own counsel can provide time for valuable reflection.
Aim to start going where you'll meet more empathic, complementary people. When you hang out with similar people you'll quickly find that you're likeable and liked. Often dislike is a reaction to something people feel uncomfortable about or don't understand.
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor