Questions to ask yourself if someone dislikes you
Recently, I read the book ‘The courage of being disliked’ from Ichirō Kishimi and Fumitake Koga. It is an explanation of Adlerian psychology. This stream of psychology/philosophy tries to explain how people can take happiness into their own hands.
The courage of being disliked is actually just a part of the book. It states that if you have the courage to accept that people may not like you, you will gain a lot of freedom in your life. It also says that constantly worrying about being liked is very selfish. If you’re always busy with your interests, you’re not focused the interests of the other person.
What it means to me
Although I must admit there are parts of the book and the philosophy that I don’t entirely agree with, it’s an interesting concept. How do we deal with it if someone dislikes us and what questions do we need to ask ourselves? I tend to be a people pleaser and this book has helped me a lot. This post will be about the most important lessons I’ve learned.
As my long-time readers will know, I’ve been bullied in the past. As with all people that have experienced this, it left some marks. One of them is the painful awareness of the effects that others can have on you. This might make you want to protect yourself, for instance by lashing out, withdrawing from social life or even things like self-harm. However, although these things are very natural, they are of course not very helpful. So, before you act, there are some questions that you might want to ask yourself that will help you to either accept it if someone dislikes you or do something about it.
From their point of view, is there a reason this person dislikes me?
Although we tend to get defensive whenever people dislike us (and act accordingly), we might want to think about some of the reasons. Did you do something that maybe wasn’t too nice? Are you maybe a threat to this person, in terms of a job or a love interest? Would you like you if you were in their position? Maybe your personalities just don’t match? It doesn’t always have to be because of your actions of course.
By asking this question, I do not mean you then have to fix it or do something with him/her disliking you, that’s up to you. Are you able to fix it and if you are, is it worth it to you? But, even if you do nothing with this information, it might make you understand why things are the way they are. It’s easier to accept the situation this way. And if you don’t know, just ask! If they dislike you already, you have nothing to lose by asking the question.
Sometimes, you’ll encounter a person that has no reason at all. Sometimes it’s their mood, sometimes they actually didn’t mean to be rude. However, sometimes the problem is darker, especially when you’ve encountered someone with a so-called dark triad personality. Although I do think the questions in this post still help with those, I’d also recommend learning about their personality and how you can protect yourself from them, because that can be a whole other ballgame and the stakes can get way higher. Also don’t hesitate to seek professional help in this case, either from psychologists, lawyers or even the cops if you feel like you’re in danger. This post is mainly discussing disliking in a more general situation (however much that can suck as well).
What do I think of this person?
When someone dislikes us, we tend to feel stress. That makes sense from an evolutionary point of view. Disliking means they might want to harm you in some way. Therefore, your body stays on high alert for when that happens. However, in the modern world, it’s less likely for someone to randomly throw a punch at you (although it can happen of course).
In this stress situation, you might forget to ask yourself the most basic question: what do I think of this person? Because chances are you don’t even like them! This is what actually protected me from some psychological damage of being bullied. When I thought about the bully, I found her to be a mean, insecure, empty, pathetic little … (fill in the word yourself). And if that is the case, why would I want her to like me? Why would I care?
Side note: people with power over you
Now, at this point I differ from the book in terms of viewpoint. In my opinion, it’s a little harder to ‘not care’ when that person has power over you, like your boss or landlord. However, there is something to be said about there being a difference between being liked and being civil. Although it’s not comfortable if people dislike you, you can still be civil to one another.
Even if that person isn’t being civil to you, you should try to stand above it. Standing above the other person’s behaviour doesn’t mean accepting everything. It does mean to not stoop to petty behaviour, like passive aggression, bullying behaviour, gossiping or undermining the other. So if someone in power dislikes you, try to have a civil conversation. Make an agreement on how to treat each other. If that doesn’t work, behave yourself in a way that you can still like yourself. Others will eventually see that you’re not the person making problems and will back you up.
Can I distance myself from this person?
When I went to high school and later university, this question became vital if someone disliked me. When you grew up in a small town, your friends are the people who you meet at school. There aren’t many different social groups you can belong to in real life.
When I got older, I moved to a city. There were more opportunities to meet and hang out with different people. That’s also when I learned that in many cases, you can actually distance yourself from people. This will prevent so much drama from happening, for you and the people around you. That the person is in your class doesn’t mean you actually have to communicate with them.
Now, I don’t mean avoiding or running away, those are things done by fear. When distancing yourself, I mean to make a conscious choice to not be around that person if you don’t have to. I think instinctively, we often tend to get close to someone in order to either ‘take revenge’ or to try and improve the situation. However, if you’ve established that there’s nothing you want to or can do, there’s no use.
So, if you see two groups of people you like and the person you don’t like is talking to one of those, just choose to go to the other group. If you only have one group to go to, stand on the other side. Talk to the people on the other side, or just don’t react to the other person unless you have to. This will decrease the chance of negative interaction for both of you.
Who’s task is it to like me?
In the book, there is mention of so-called life tasks and the separation of it. So ask yourself, is it your task to make someone like you? No! It’s your task to deal with your own feelings. You can make it your life task to be as nice as you can to others, but it’s not your task to deal with the other person’s feelings. They use the saying ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink’.
Personally, I try to be as nice as I can to others around me within certain boundaries. However, if they still decide to dislike me, that’s not my problem anymore. It’s not good for anyone if you try to force it. It’ll likely only create more irritation and friction.
So, going back to the example of the boss who dislikes you, you can’t make him or her like you. It’s just your job to not do things to antagonise him or her more than you have to. You can also apply this in love. You can’t make someone love you, so if they don’t, let them go. Although this is a really difficult thing to do, it’s vital to achieve a certain serenity and acceptance in difficult situations like these.
I hope these questions will have helped you out a little if you are not sure what to do when someone dislikes you. I won’t tell you what to do, because that will always differ for each person and each situation. However, asking yourself these questions on why someone dislikes you and how you can deal with it can help you to either do something about it or to let it go. What do you do in these types of situations? Let me know in the comments below!
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Lots of love,
LisaHome » Mind »
One of the cool aspects about your post is that it goads us to think. Thinking about someone who dislikes you moves you out of a reactive, attacking or judging state into simply observing someone who shares their preferences. If they do not prefer you, it is their perception, and of self, since we are all one with each other. Everyone is a mirror.
Thank you and I completely agree with you. Instead of reacting from a place of hurt or not understanding, it’s often better to take a step back and watch the situation as a neutral viewer (even though that’s hard to do).
What an interesting post! I feel we all reach a point where we realise this. It wasn’t until I was in my late 20s I gave up trying to understand why some people disliked me but now it’s water off a ducks back and I focus my time and energy on what I can control. Plus, what other people think of me is none of my business.
Sounds like you’ve got it well under control! And yeah I think so as well, it’s something you learn with time, but I hope this post and the comments can help people in the process 😊
A great article this is, I love reading unorthodox thoughts like this Alderian psychology (which I had never come across btw). I stopped caring whether others like me or not but was there once, it was a process.
Thank you! And haha yeah I like unconventional stuff too. I’m curious for more research on it. I’m getting there as well now.
I enjoyed this post and believe that you have to take the rough with the smooth. You can never be liked by everyone so just embrace it.
Very true! You wouldn’t be interesting if you were okay for everyone.
This is a great post and topic. Adlerian psychology is a bit unconventional sometimes. I used to be a big people pleaser. Learning how to kindly disengage coupled with the courage of being disliked has been a great journey so far. I think we really do find greater freedom. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you so much and yeah Adlerian psychology is still unknown to many but I’m interested to see more studies.
I’m glad you were able to work on this though, it sounds like you came far!
This is such a useful post
The points in this post really resonated with me. I used to really care of someone didn’t like me. Also the evolutionary angle means it’s an automatic process and not a conscious decision to react. Interesting!
Yeah it definitely is an automatic thing so you shouldn’t blame yourself for it. These questions can just give you some space to get over that first reaction.
This is such an interesting read, I never really thought to ask myself these questions as to why a person may dislike me. I’ve always been someone to just take it on the chin if I know that someone doesn’t like me! But I will definitely ask myself these questions next time the situation arises x
Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk
I hope it’ll help you to get a bigger picture! Maybe it’ll help you get some perspective into the why.
These questions to ask ourselves are useful if we really need to examine someone else’s dislike of us (I would say mainly if we have actually done something that warrants that dislike). If I haven’t done anything and it’s someone who has just reacted to me negatively I don’t give it much thought or energy (generally). I think I’d ask myself these questions if a resolution was required so this was interesting to read through!
I think it’s great that you’re able to let it slide when there’s no reason for them to be mean to you. It’s something that’s difficult for me still (even with this book). These questions will help me figure out how fair that is to myself though haha
This is such an interesting post. I was bullied too during high school and I never understood the reason why because at first they were my friends but then they turned into my bullies. I ended up distancing myself from them and hanging out with another friend group for the rest of high school.
More recently I have had to deal with my partner’s mother disliking me and she will tell my partner that she thinks I’m a good mom and she has nothing against me, but then she will go and say and I’m no good for my daughter. I have talked to my partner about this many times and I have decided to distance myself from her to avoid the stress of being around her.
I hate you had to go through all of this. Sometimes things like this can seem so unfair. I think distancing yourself might be the best thing and I hope she turns around or at least she’ll communicate what’s up.