Menu

We Don’t Need to Change to Please Other People

“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.

About Soma Roy Choudhary

Soma Roy Choudhary is a postgraduate in Psychology and human resource management. Writing is her passion and a way of cognitive relaxation. She is a new mom who enjoys taking care of her little baby. She is grateful to share her lessons of life and experiences with Tiny Buddha.

See a typo, an inaccuracy, or something offensive? Please contact us so we can fix it!
Announcement: Tired of feeling stuck? Learn to let go of the past & create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • jonedevil

    @This site is giving about $800 daily. You can just do this simple task daily from home and have more time with friends & family; Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had. It sounds unbelievable. Its best site that i found till now.

    This is what I do,

    ➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜➜ www.fox900.com

    JUST GO TO THE SITE TO BELIEVE

  • Hi Soma
    Great post and I think a topic pretty much everyone can relate to. Like you said, it is natural for us to want to be liked-we are a social species and there is that instinct to be accepted by the ‘group.’ In an ideal world, everyone accepts us for who we are, supports our decisions even if they don’t agree or understand, and focuses on improving themselves and their own life rather than focusing on everyone else.

    But, alas, that is not how it goes is it? I don’t have any issues with anyone outright disliking me (at least that I know of 🙂 ), but I do know what it feels like to be criticized for my life choices and not have people ‘get it.’ It has caused me some hurt as I am only human after all. But, the one thing that has kept me going is the fact that I came to be how I am and do what I do out of deep self-reflection. Knowing truly who we are and what we want out of life makes it much easier to stay the course–other people’s criticisms and friction we have may still get to us sometimes, but it isn’t as strong. We don’t get sucked in as much.

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  • DB Hoster

    This is a beautiful story and lesson learned. Thanks so much for sharing it. I had a very, very similar thing happen to me recently with a family member. I also was confused and disengaged from everyone in my life just like you did, b/c I thought, for a while, there was something wrong with me. I was just lucky enough to find some good resources and do enough soul-searching to come to the same recognition you did. It’s still wonderful to read this and know that others have had the same experience and that we’re not alone.

  • Peace Within

    Thank you Soma for sharing. This reminds me of someone in my family. She was always mean or rude to me for no reason. As a child it bothered me so much. I never did anything to her, so I never understood why she acted so negatively. I am an adult now and I realize that it is a reflection of how she feels inside. I never was the problem, she had and still has problems with herself. I also think it is because she isn’t in tune with her emotions at all, that’s why it is so easy for her to be cold to people. I am and always have been emotional, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I notice it is always people who are cold that have issues with people that have warm hearts. Maybe because they don’t understand or can relate? Maybe because they lack empathy? On a positive note, dealing with this family member has changed my life. It has taught me many lessons and shaped who I have become. Not everybody will like us, but we should still be the best we can be.

  • Eva

    Wow, parts of that could have been my story – though the member of my family was never overtly hostile just constantly critical and judgemental. It left me feeling flawed, inadequate and questioning my own judgement at a young age.
    It took me a very long time to realise that the problem was hers not mine and that she didn’t undermine and belittle me and the choices I made because they were wrong but because they threatened her sense of power and control.
    Unfortunately, before I figured that out, the whole situation re-enacted itself several times throughout my adult life with friends, romantic partners and even colleagues and left me with a history of depression and some emotional scars. But I’m learning…

  • Pixie5

    This sounds like a page from my life, including the withdrawal from people for awhile. Having been verbally abused as a child it is especially difficult for me to deal with criticism. Certain relatives in my family are judgmental and authoritarian, they threw me out of their house over a simple misunderstanding but both had the idea of how things were supposed to go without ever consulting me about it. I on the other hand felt we needed to discuss it before we made firm plans. For that I got a lot of verbal abuse on how I should fulfill my “obligations” and that I was always “selfish and demanding.”

    That “selfish and demanding” part comes down to the fact that my father has asked them to do things for me at times without my knowledge. As far as I knew, they were offering to do these things. It should have been obvious because I was prepared to do these things on my own and I was surprised when I got the offers. I even asked if they were sure, giving them an out.

    The whole thing is such a nightmare but it is true that not everyone will like you and there are limits as to how much you can tolerate from others. I was feeling depressed about the holidays and not being able to attend family festivities but I have already gotten invites for Thanksgiving from two friends! So maybe it won’t be so bad after all! 😉

  • John

    “Even if you were 100% successful at being liked and approved of by everybody you came across, you’d still be a dumb idiot who spent 100% of his time trying to win the approval of others”.

  • DonZilla

    As long as society doesn’t allow women true equal power outside the home and family–as long as women feel, consciously or unconsciously, that their only true power, the only true difference they make in life is controlling family and children (essentially, living their lives through others)–we’ll continue as a society to create dysfunctional families as described by the author and the other commenters here. Sad.

  • Thanks for your story. I too have suffered from insecurities all because some people didn’t like me. I tried everything within my powers to get them to like me and later gave up since I almost lost myself and was miserable.
    It is very sad but there are people like your relative all over the world. Even though it is so uncomfortable since it is so hard to avoid them, I see them as helping me to become stronger. Thanks again

  • Yu

    I always think that there is a fine line to be tread. “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.”- What if people dislike you because of a bad behavior which you did not realized you had? There must be some elements of self reflection as well.

  • rec

    my life is same like this, i hated my life from such kind of stupid and sadist people, i later understood its her insecurities and not mine. then why the hell i think about her and worry. so be ourself and dont pretend to please others and live the fullest happy life..thank you so much for ths post for motivating me.

  • lv2terp

    Wonderful!!! I am so glad you came out of that place! I love when you said “…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.” Fantastic! 🙂

  • In the Vipassana meditation retreat I went to, there’s a lecture where the teacher is telling a story of how someone was getting really really angry at the buddah.

    This angry person in his mind was saying before meeting the buddah, “Oh I hate this person. Oh I’m going to kill him!”

    But when he went to the buddah and started yelling, the buddah smiled and said, “You are bringing me presents of anger, and I don’t want them!”. The angry man couldn’t believe it.

    So often we allow others’ reactions to determine our own. Why should we? We get to decide how we respond and deal with things. As you pointed out Soma, just because someone wants you to behave a certain way and needs to control everything, doesn’t mean you have to and you can even feel SORRY for them for needing everything to be so controlled and rigid.

    That and the lesson of knowing that you can never please anyone but yourself will probably stick with you for the rest of your life 🙂

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    “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.” Thank you for that reminder & happy for you, that you found yourself again…:)

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    “But I do know what it feels like to be criticized for my life choices
    and not have people ‘get it.’ It has caused me some hurt as I am only
    human after all. But, the one thing that has kept me going is the fact
    that I came to be how I am and do what I do out of deep self-reflection.
    Knowing truly who we are and what we want out of life makes it much
    easier to stay the course….” Thank you for sharing that, Kelli…:)

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    “I never was the problem, she had and still has problems with herself. I also think it is because she isn’t in tune with her emotions at all,
    that’s why it is so easy for her to be cold to people. I am and always
    have been emotional, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I notice it is always
    people who are cold that have issues with people that have warm hearts.” Thank you for sharing that, Peace…:). I have heard from several people over the years that I’m too emotional/sensitive & that its something I should change about myself!

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    “Just because someone wants you to behave a certain way and needs to
    control everything, doesn’t mean you have to and you can even feel SORRY
    for them for needing everything to be so controlled and rigid.” So TRUE…though its more complicated, when its certain individuals you have to deal with at your own home…

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    Thats kinda mean, but a pretty funny quote at the same time..lol

  • John

    Of course nobody is really a “dumb idiot”, that’s not even possible (it would be a subjective judgement imposed onto them, wouldn’t it). So the quote isn’t really TRUE, it’s just a funny, provocative idea. That’s the way I see it. Some food for thought – an interesting perspective. As you say, a pretty funny quote, that IMO has a really good point behind it. And while I don’t think it’s literally true, it certainly points at a reality, doesn’t it… 🙂

  • John

    I would add, my life philosophy is that it is pretty much 100% meaningless what people think of me, because it says everything about them and nothing about me. Despite this I occasionally experience feelings, traces from when I cared and worried about this sort of thing, when I am around people, that seem to be very, very, very weak versions of the old ‘omg what do they think of me?!’ sensations. The good thing is that these feelings are decreasing all the time and I expect them to be gone fairly soon.

    When they show up I don’t judge myself, I just remind myself, dude, you know, you’re not in that reality any more! I remind myself of the truth that it doesn’t matter what people think of me. Every time I remind myself of that I reinforce the new reality and one day I will be pleased to say that I am totally, 100% in the new reality 100% of the time. I might give it a few years though – will probably be stuck at 99.9% for a fair while. 🙂

  • Absolutely. I know I had to deal with this with my Dad, who is quite controlling. My decision was to accept that he will always be this way. He has to respect my boundaries as well, but that I cannot live there and as an adult I don’t have to. But by all means I still love the guy :).

  • Peace Within

    Everyone is different. There is nothing wrong with being emotional/sensitive. As long as you are staying true to yourself and not hurting anyone. The people who have said similar things to me said what they said because they couldn’t relate. They are not emotional at all. They make me appreciate the fact that I am emotional and sensitive.

  • latebloomer

    Exactly! I too am learning to brace my heart. It is just as sensitive as it needs to be!

  • Peace Within

    We are all on the same page =) That is exactly how I feel!

  • Sanjay

    nice thoughts 😀 you made my day

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    “As long as you are staying true to yourself and not hurting anyone. The
    people who have said similar things to me said what they said because
    they couldn’t relate.” That’s very true…and its esp difficult when its coming from family members & as you know, being Indian..unlike in many American cultures… its not that simple as just moving away from your family & ending all sorts of ties with them..it a lot more complicated than that!

  • Peace Within

    I know what you mean about being in the Indian culture. It’s even harder when you are figuring your way out in the American culture. Kind of like an inner battle. It took me a long time, but I’ve created my own limits and boundaries. It’s helped a tremendous amount!

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    In my own life, I’m SLOWLY LEARNING to find that balance in knowing the limits/boundaries of myself & others… Thank you, Peace! 🙂

  • bandita

    nyc thoughts…….:)

  • Roma

    Hi soma this story is really inspired me.its just clicked to our real life story which is happening in many peoples life.someone has to speak up about it.you started it and I am really really Respect and Regards your thought.take care xx
    ManyThanks.

  • Henry

    It’s the same with everyone else when we only get with some people and some people we don’t get on, the way to accept this situation is to compare it with particles as some particles bond/attract each other while some particles split/repel each other assuming that relation/friendship is similar and fundamental to some things in science.

  • Antony

    Thank you, it was really helpful for me in my current scenario.