All about the mind

Like me…like me…please…

Need for approval.

We all have it. Some more than others. Most of us from childhood set out to please everyone. Because in return, we want people to like us. To approve of us. And it’s all good until we meet someone who might not like us.

And our worlds come crashing down.

That’s when the need for approval becomes a problem. When we do anything and everything to not have someone dislike us. When we lose sleep over a person that doesn’t like us. When we become pushovers and doormats just so others will like us. It’s when we do things like this, the need for approval is a problem.

I’ve been there.

While growing up, I needed everyone’s approval. I couldn’t stand it if someone disliked me. I would let myself be walked all over just because I didn’t want people to think badly of me. To disapprove of me. I got taken advantage of by some at school and college. I would worry about what others thought of me. A lot!

Until one fine day, a light bulb went off in my head.

I realised I didn’t like everyone I interacted with. So why in the world should everyone like me???

It was completely irrational and unrealistic to expect every single person I meet to like me. There is always going to be someone who doesn’t. Just the way I don’t like some people.

And that was all it needed for me to change that belief. That need for everyone’s approval. It’s similar to how you cannot please everyone. There is always going to be someone who doesn’t like you, what you do, or what you say. It doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world.

I no longer worry about what every single person thinks about me. If you don’t like something about me, tough. I can still handle it.

I am not saying people need to go to the other extreme and not give a shit about every single person and be as obnoxious as you can…all I am saying is some of us put too much emphasis on everyone having to like us. And that can be tiring because no matter what we do, there is always going to be someone who doesn’t like us.

The reason I am blogging about this is because lately I have had a number of clients who have this as one of their beliefs — that everyone has to like them. They stew over it. Worry about it. Cry over it. Get angry about it.

And when I ask them, “Do you like everyone?“, they are stunned.

Because the truth is, they don’t.

So how can they expect everyone to like them?

So next time you worry about someone at your workplace possibly not liking you [unless it’s your boss or the person having to give you a reference!], ask yourself: Do I like everyone at work?

Until next time,


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  • ItsNu
    4 June 2010 at 4:44 am


  • ItsNu
    4 June 2010 at 4:53 am

    lovely header 🙂

  • Titaxy
    4 June 2010 at 4:54 am

    I guess most of us go thru that stage where we need everyone to like us…especially during the teen years. But we grow, learn, mature and just accept the fact that it’s not possible to please everyone. 🙂

  • ItsNu
    4 June 2010 at 5:18 am

    totally’s not necessary and hence should not be a compulsion for others to like everything that you do or say or in fact the person you are !

    There would be disagreements and differences…which is totally fine..should accept it and move on…

    Learn from them is the best thing one can rather than sit cribbing and get tagged as cry baby 🙂

  • phoenixritu
    4 June 2010 at 6:05 am

    Yeah! I completely agree. But then I have never needed approval from others. I simply march to my own drummer, and follow my own conscience. Approval or lack of it has never meant much to me … for a long long time

  • Magali
    4 June 2010 at 6:27 am

    I have never cared for it much but as you said we all have it in us. But I really like how you got over it! Very good reasoning.
    BTW Lovin’ the new header!

  • Lazy Pineapple
    4 June 2010 at 8:29 am

    Your post made so much of sense…I was like that sometime back…
    I bended backwards to accommodate people just so that they like me…
    Thankfully I have gotten rid of that attitude after many experiences of people walking all over me and taking me for granted.

    We need to learn to make people understand boundaries…and respect us even if they might not like us.

  • Psych Babbler
    4 June 2010 at 9:54 am

    Yes =)

  • Psych Babbler
    4 June 2010 at 9:55 am

    Thanks…passing the message on to my sis…once again, it’s her work of art…

  • Psych Babbler
    4 June 2010 at 10:54 am

    Yeah…I think more so when we are teenagers…but I’m sure there are several adults out there with similar views. Of course, given that my clients are teens, they do think they should be able to make everyone happy! =P

  • Psych Babbler
    4 June 2010 at 10:55 am

    Yes, just because someone doesn’t like us, doesn’t make us a bad person. And the same with if we don’t like someone… =D

  • Psych Babbler
    4 June 2010 at 10:57 am

    That’s a great way of being! I used to worry heaps about what everyone thought…funnily enough, not within the family though given that I was stubborn about my choice of study…but I always wanted to be looked at as being “nice” by everyone…which meant I bent over backwards! Have learnt enough now…and don’t really care if someone thinks I’m a bitch. It’s their opinion and they are entitled to it =)

  • Psych Babbler
    4 June 2010 at 10:58 am

    It’s great that you don’t care much for it! And re the reasoning…I don’t know how I came up with it…but later while studying psychology, I found that it is a legitimate challenge for the same irrational belief as part of rational-emotive behaviour therapy! Who would have thunk it? =D

  • Psych Babbler
    4 June 2010 at 11:00 am

    Oh…that’s so like me! I think yeah, there was a point when I realised people were walking all over me too…but then my dilemma was how to be assertive because they will not like me! =P Totally agree with your last line…

  • Psych Babbler
    4 June 2010 at 11:00 am

    Oh…and thanks about the header…another of my sister’s creations! Will let her know! =)

  • pal
    4 June 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Lovely post, PB. I was always the timid types, always worried that someone was angry with me or upset!! I still am, really!!!

  • Nish
    4 June 2010 at 2:13 pm

    That is all a part of growing up phase i guess…I was in college when i remember going through the same lame feeling but Thankfully we learn a lot of things as we grow up!!

    PS:Hopped in form a friend’s blog and loved the look and feel as well a the quality of content on offer…

  • celestialrays
    4 June 2010 at 2:32 pm

    lovely new look 🙂

    I too wanted to be liked by everyone and would try very hard at that, but it reached a point where it only became more and more stressful and difficult to please one and all… Since then, it has always been enough to please my own self – less to worry about, more to rejoice about! 😀

    Oh and your logic hits the nail! If you can’t like everyone, you can’t expect all to like you!

  • Rosebelle28
    4 June 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Read about this post over at Lazy Pineapple. I think you speak out what most people are feeling. Being a people pleaser creates less tension and conflict among friends, family and especially coworkers. My manager was a people pleaser and being so really brought down the workplace morale because his subordinates don’t see him as an effective leader. So whenever a worker was obviously doing something wrong, the manager would not take disciplinary action because he didn’t want the worker to “hate” on him. Really horrible management skill right there!

  • CherylT
    4 June 2010 at 9:47 pm

    So true. So true. It took me years to learn I do not need everyone’s approval to be happy with myself. Like the way you explained it to your clients. Too many people are unhappy with life simply because of the way other people think of them

  • ItsNu
    5 June 2010 at 3:46 am

    wow first after a long time here 🙂 *dancing*

    Sistah is a super girl…she designs so well…is she in designing already?

  • Chatterbox
    5 June 2010 at 8:04 am

    Cool new header 😀
    I could totally relate to all you said. I’ve been there done that 🙂
    But over the years I’ve learned (finally) to be myself and not worry about what others think of me if I do anything. Though we need to draw the line of such behavior and not involve our boss (in being in his bad books 😉 )
    Something we all need to learn someday or the other if we wish to live at peace.

  • Scorpria
    5 June 2010 at 9:07 am

    Good one!
    When I tell this to people I know, they usually think I’m being arrogant. People just can’t seem to accept that it’s NOT important that “others” like us. It’s but most important, that we like ourself the best! 🙂
    Super post!

  • Journomuse
    5 June 2010 at 9:25 am

    PsychBabbler – you changed your blog template? Looks bherry bherry nice..:)

    And I so understand what you talk about the people who just have to please everyone. I was in that category till I wisenend up. Not that it stops the hurt…It stings, but then I dust myself, look left and right in the hope that not one saw me pout and go on with my merry life..:)

  • PNA
    5 June 2010 at 12:52 pm

    First, Lovely header… wishes to ur sis 🙂 🙂

    Second, that’s a big problem a lot of adults and teens face…. to extent that they bend, bow down and kneel and lick others shoes to be acknowledged and I hate that in people…

    Is it a lack of confidence in one self or an inferiority complex, maybe both or either… irritates me to the core..

    May be because I’ve never given a button hole of importance to what a tom or dick or harry or some saritha or pearly thinks.. Never mattered at all as long as what I did was ethically right :):)

    But I do care what my parents, my bro and now AB thinks and say… and we discuss, criticise and suggest… because they are my best well wishers and I am theirs in this world and would never want to see each other fall or fail…

    Well put PB…

  • Gyanban
    5 June 2010 at 2:01 pm

    I think the idea is to strike a balance between a need for approval and becoming completely disconnected from everyone. Having a high need for approvals can make one spineless while having none can make you a recluse.

    needless to say it is easier said than done.but I guess thats what life is all about – trying to find the balance isnt it?

  • Choco
    5 June 2010 at 3:54 pm

    “Do you like everyone?”– This post struck a cord.
    I never really have cared much if someone disliked me. But yes. If I had been getting along fine with them and then they start behaving strange suddenly, then I tend to worry. Now that I have matured, hopefully, I try to clear out the air. But even that has its pitfalls. Clearing out the air is so difficult! People it seem do not let go of stuff even after one has bothered to clarify….

    And that is when I have to remind myself that, everyone need not understand or see the light in the same color as I do. And that is ok….

    Lovely post. Made me reflect of some stuff. Happens rarely 😉
    So thanks! 🙂

  • Sam Liu
    5 June 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Very true, I have often strived to be liked and I crave approval, I think it’s an intrinsic part of human nature. But, as you rightly say, I don’t like everyone, so why should everyone like me? It’s not healthy to live one’s life constantly worried about what the other person thinks. I suppose you just have to accept that there are those who will like you and those that won’t, I think after we’ve acknowledged that, then we can truly lead liberated lives.

  • Mie
    6 June 2010 at 5:52 am

    Im like that too, til over a year ago when despite all the things I did for someone, she still has complaints about me! thats when I realized that no matter what good things you do for someone she will just overlook it and might even think its her right to receive such treatment and wont care less for how you feel.

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 9:01 am

    Y’know Pal, I do worry a little about people I care about being angry or upset with me…but no longer worry about acquaintances or colleagues feeling the same. Like I said, we cannot please everyone…and given how different people are, we are always going to have someone who is upset about something we say or do 🙂

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 10:01 am

    Welcome Nish! Yeah I reckon it’s definitely a lot more common during childhood and adolescence…but for some, it goes even past that! Keep visiting! =) And thanks for the lovely comment about the blog…

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 10:27 am

    Thanks Celestial…it’s all credit to my sis who designed this header as well.

    I think yeah, we do realise it when it gets too much for us. It doesn’t help when we want everyone to like us and we bend over backwards…glad you got over that as well! =)

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 10:35 am

    Welcome Rosebelle! Oh boy…a people-pleaser who becomes a manager has possibly made one of the worst career decisions ever! As you say, a manager has to be firm and take disciplinary action where required…no one is going to take him seriously if he can’t do that!

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 10:36 am

    Welcome Cheryl! It’s better late than never to learn that we don’t need others’ approval to be happy with ourselve, isn’t it? Glad you have overcome that too…we place too much emphasis on what others think….

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 10:37 am

    Hehe… 🙂 Keep it up! Sister is looking for jobs at the moment…and is designing headers for me in the mean time 😛

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 10:40 am

    Thanks CB…header is another of my sister’s creations. 🙂

    Totally agree that it won’t be good if our bosses or referees don’t like us! We do need their approval to keep our jobs 😛 But I guess when it comes to acquaintances or colleagues, it doesn’t really matter all that much…

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 10:41 am

    Arrogant? Hmmm…that’s interesting! I guess I can see how it could come across that way if we started behaving really obnoxiously or almost narcissistically to the point of hurting others…but I’m sure that’s not what you are doing…it’s just that if there are people that don’t like it when we are being assertive or don’t like some of our views, it shouldn’t really matter.

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 10:44 am

    Hey Journomouse…just changed my header…another creation of my sister’s. I don’t think we ever get to a point where we don’t care at all…but at least it doesn’t matter so much any more…and we don’t beat ourselves up if someone doesn’t like or approve of us…we are probably able to externalise it to them!

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 10:46 am

    Thanks about the header Pinny…will pass on the message to my sis.

    And yeah, I think it’s a bit about low self-esteem that makes us want the approval of others. I agree that the opinions of people who are important to us still matter…and I for one still care about the approval of near and dear ones….Nice to see that you never had that problem of wanting everyone’s approval! 😛

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 10:48 am

    Balance!! That is definitely the key Gyanban! I definitely don’t recommend being disconnected from everyone around…because I think that makes one a narcissist. The middle ground is important…

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 10:53 am

    Welcome Choco! I loved what you said here: “I have to remind myself that, everyone need not understand or see the light in the same color as I do. And that is ok….”

    We all need to do that often…we get upset, angry, depressed, anxious based on how we expect other people to respond…if only we reminded ourselves that everyone is different and that’s ok, it’d save us all a lot of bother!

    Keep visiting! 🙂

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 10:55 am

    Sam, that’s right…there will be some people who will like us and some who won’t. The point is, there are still some people who like us. I think it would be a problem if no one liked us! But as long as we know that’s not the case, no point stressing about the few who don’t… =D

  • Psych Babbler
    6 June 2010 at 10:56 am

    Welcome Mie! Whoa…she complained about you! But yeah, she probably did think she was entitled to receive all that and probably more. We can’t please everyone and glad you backed off!

  • Urzay G
    7 June 2010 at 3:38 am

    This sounds very much like what I used to be like – why doesn’t she like me – what have I done – I want to be like by everyone – I then – WOKE UP! I was so worried by all the issues of things that I could have possibly done wrong or other that when I came to the reality that not everyone gets on with everyone. So now I give people a little while and if we don’t click – I say bugger’em.
    This statement from your post “Some of us put too much emphasis on everyone having to like us” is so true. There are so many different personality types in the world and if we were all the same – how boring life would be – heeeeheeee

  • Psych Babbler
    7 June 2010 at 9:38 am

    Welcome Urzay! You are so right in that the world would be a boring place if we were all the same! Glad you woke up to the problem and are more accepting if some people don’t like you…Keep visiting! =)

  • Singer7
    8 June 2010 at 7:11 pm

    That is sum really good advice!!! It’s true!!! Thanx for opening up my eyes to that realization!!!

  • starry eyed
    9 June 2010 at 12:44 pm

    Awesome post. Sometimes it just takes one thought to change a pattern!

    I’ve struggled a lot with this, but am a lot better now. I wonder if it mostly stems from how parents brought us up. Did they approve of us no matter what we did? I introspect a lot over this. I don’t want my kids to think I’m mad at them, but upset over what they did, and confident that they can do better, and their ‘bad’ deeds don’t define them in entirety! We’ve totally cut out bad boy/girl now.

  • Psych Babbler
    14 June 2010 at 10:34 am

    Singer, really glad I could make an impact! =)

  • Psych Babbler
    14 June 2010 at 10:35 am

    Oh for sure…starry, in Indian society, most of us are brought up with achievement = positive attention. It’s so important to make a distinction between loving someone for who they are and not liking certain behaviours! As parents, telling kids you don’t like their behaviour is fine but that doesn’t mean you don’t love them. =)

  • Reema
    11 July 2010 at 6:30 am

    accepting that very fact which u have written is a sure path to peace of mind!

  • Psych Babbler
    11 July 2010 at 8:12 am

    Yep…totally agree that we need to accept it…and then we won’t worry so much about what others think…

  • Priya
    16 July 2010 at 11:00 am

    Hey, commenting here for the first time…
    Loved this post. Its so simple yet a revelation of sorts!!

  • Psych Babbler
    17 July 2010 at 5:02 am

    Welcome Priya! And thanks…do keep visiting…

  • Rads
    26 July 2010 at 8:18 am

    I have had a similar experience but slightly twisted. I have been that snobbish person who does not really care abt anybody outside of her inner circle all my life 🙂 Mainly as a defense mechanism to cope with unwanted opinions and of course the fact that I tend to be a little self absorbed which automatically makes the environs fade :))
    All this was completely fine till a nasty breakup with an ex with him bailing out and leaving the unsaid hanging in the air. The much cliched – You are a great girlfriend but not good enuf to be my wife !
    Thats when most of my so called life came crashing down and I suddenly realized that I have become this clingy needy person who wanted this other person to like me and need me.. Needless to say that did not happen and that was the best thing to happen to me..
    I personally think that no matter how much of self defense mechanisms we have or rationalizations in our heads, there are still too many un-rational things that we will find ourselves doing which kinda dictate our lives..
    Instead of stewing over why my ex didnt want to be with me for the rest of his life, if only I had asked myself If I wanted to be with him for the rest of mine, the answer would have been very apparent 🙂 But of course at that time and place I didn’t …

  • Psych Babbler
    26 July 2010 at 10:49 am

    Wow…thanks for sharing Rads! Your example with your ex is perfect re how setbacks can actually be helpful for us! And yes, sometimes, we may realise that we probably won’t care about most people liking us but can become needy about the same in close relationships…

  • Rads
    28 July 2010 at 7:28 am

    I have to admit that despite being a newbie at your blog, I am thoroughly enjoying reading your writing. 🙂

  • Psych Babbler
    28 July 2010 at 10:21 am

    Thanks Rads! =) Glad you keep visiting…