Let's not front, being like to a certain extent feels awesome. I know for me, another artist who is sensitive about her shit, it feels amazing to receive praise and reassurance. As a daughter, it feels amazing to be put on a pedestal for being supportive and agreeable. As a lover, it feels amazing to know I bring someone else a sense of comfort and pleasure. However, living solely for those highs left me emotionally bankrupt, unable to recognize myself when I looked in the mirror, and with a creative block. I know I'm not alone, and that fear of not being liked builds up to the point where people are afraid to reveal their true thoughts and feelings.
Sadly, for women, this is a crippling mindset that has been spoonfed to us for ages. The desire to be liked is suffocating because, what exactly will happen if someone doesn't like you?
Actress, mother, wife and host Jada Pinkett Smith seems to believe self-love happens when we let go of our desire to be liked. Achieving your highest potential happens. Being your most authentic self happens. Jada explained during a recent episode of Red Table Talk:
"I never worry about being liked because it's a trick bag...that is the space of manipulation. If you need somebody to like you it'll be too difficult for someone to act from an authentic place...But here's the deal, most people have a difficult time liking themselves."
"It's almost like begging someone to see your true image through a cracked lens. It's not going to happen."
Sis is giving us a life-earned piece of game for free-99 here. The late great Maya Angelou already warned us about being careful when a naked person offers you a shirt, but that's a hard concept to grasp because, again, approval feels so good. Damn near validating. When you are freezing, that shirt looks tailor-made to fit your body! So there comes a time when we must sit down and ask ourselves whose approval matters the most? Mine, or someone outside of myself?
Is it worth doing something that makes another person happy, yet makes me miserable? Do I really want to be burned out from setting myself on fire to keep other people warm?
Another woman daring to not give a damn about being liked is Myleik Teele, mother, host, and creator of the beloved CurlBox. The entrepreneur did the work to find out that the answer to those questions and what she learned was a resounding, "Hell to the no!" She shared in a passionate IG live discussion:
"I have finally learned how to deal with the anxiety that comes along with you when you make the choice that's best for you...I can say something to you and then I know you are going to be upset about it, and me not feeling the need to defend myself or react around that...me just sitting there not in like a strange way but just like I acknowledge your anger. I understand that you're upset. You know? And that's it!"
Don't be fooled, coming to this realization and point of action takes some serious work from people who are able to look at you without a distorted view and give you the tools you need to learn to trust yourself. For Myleik, that person was her long-time therapist:
"For 2021, I'm really looking forward to gaining some momentum in my comfort of just being straight up and dropping this desire to be liked. And it's kind of a complex thing to say because you know year after year I sit in therapy and she's like, 'It's because you want people to like you," and it's like, 'I don't care if they don't like me!' That's how I feel genuinely! But there will be certain behaviors that were not congruent with what I'm saying."
Practice makes perfect. If you are confused about where to start, here are some very useful words to start with:
Sis..I can keep you here all day but just make sure you prioritize being true to yourself above all else. Do it for the love, not for the likes.
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Featured image via Jada Pinkett Smith/Instagram