“One of the most freeing things we learn in life is that we don’t have to like everyone, everyone doesn’t have to like us, and it’s perfectly OK.” ~Unknown
I am thankful from the bottom of my heart to that relative who dislikes me.
As Mother Teresa famously said, “Some people come in our life as blessings. Some come in your life as lessons.”
She came in my life as a lesson. The more she dislikes me, the more I love myself and appreciate those who love me.
This carefree attitude didn’t come overnight. I had to go through a tough phase first. Each day I felt bad about myself, cried a lot, and blamed myself for this messy relationship, and for failing to save it.
“There are hundreds of people who like me for who I am, so why she doesn’t like me?” I asked myself several times.
I practiced being who I thought she wanted me to be. Still, despite giving my best to that relationship she always criticized me, and I never received a single word of appreciation. I allowed myself to take it because I thought that one day she’d realize her mistake and start liking me. “One day” never came.
The day she used disrespectful words while talking to me, I decided not to let her drain my energy anymore.
During this phase of my life, I lost connections with all my friends and relatives because I was so unhappy with myself that I didn’t feel like engaging with anyone.
Thankfully, some relationships are beyond formalities. Even if you don’t make the effort to connect with them, they are always there for you to love you, support you in your tough times, and bring you back on track. I call them soul-to-soul connections, and I am lucky to have those people in my life.
Sometimes it becomes important to see yourself through the eyes of people who truly like you and accept you wholeheartedly.
I shifted my attention to them and started analyzing why they like me. I even made a list of things people like about me.
I desperately wanted to be that person again who was known for her smile, warmth, and jovial nature. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life feeling upset and bad about myself.
Being a psychology graduate, it’s my hobby to study and analyze others’ behavior. I couldn’t resist doing that with the person who dislikes me. I noticed that she has a habit of complaining about everything in her life. And everything has to be her way.
Everyone in her family conformed to her way of doing things because they wanted to please her. Since I never did that, I couldn’t fit in her idea of a perfect relationship.
It reminds me of something my boss once said: “Don’t make your problem my problem.”
I realized that it wasn’t me; it was her insecurities.
She wanted to maintain her authoritative style of leading the family. She thought that if I did not follow her, she would lose her importance. That’s why she wanted me to change my lifestyle.
She expected everyone to follow her ideologies and prioritize things she wanted. She compared me with those who always followed her and never questioned her way of doing things. And she started disliking me just because my lifestyle, priorities and ideologies were different from hers.
It was wrong on my part to expect that everyone should like me. It’s human nature to want people to like us, but it’s not healthy to dwell if they don’t.
I learned from this bitter experience that you cannot force anyone to like you, but you can like yourself for who you are. How others will perceive you is none of your business. As long as you are happy and satisfied with yourself, you are good to go.
Change yourself if you have a good reason, but not to please anyone else.
Another important lesson I learned that if someone is not happy with herself and her life, no one can make her happy. As Marcus Aurelius correctly said, “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”
I learned my lesson and decided to move on. My life started rocking again. I started connecting with my old friends, family, and made new friends.
The moment I changed my actions and started doing things that make me happy I noticed a ripple effect. I became the same old person, laughing, giggling, and enjoying life to the fullest. The same can happen for you if you stop focusing on others and start focusing on yourself.
Woman on a road image via Shutterstock