This is a guest post by Timon. He writes about social skills and confidence. Check his bio under the article.
You go to the coffee shop, grab your coffee from the counter and are about to take a seat.
What’s that? Hey, that girl is reading Harry Potter. Awesome, you love those books!
Let’s have a chat with her.
Or,.. no,.. she will probably not like that. She is reading, right? She won’t like you anyway.
Never mind. You’ll just take your coffee and go.
Would be cool if you could have talked though, but she won’t like you anyway.
Why don’t people like me?
Heck, why do people hate me?!
Or a more important question; why do you believe that nobody likes you?
You always have that awful feeling, whether you talk to people or not, that they dislike you, hate you even. At least that is how it feels. It makes meeting people hard. Let alone connecting and making new friends.
My first reaction: Dude! Snap out of it, it’s in your head. I just want to shake you out of that delusion! But it’s not that easy. So let’s take another approach. Examining the problem and working through it.
Wait! Everyone hates me for valid reasons
Sure – but what are the real reasons you feel people don’t like you? There are a few possibilities.
It could be that you just don’t get people. You’ve somehow missed out on learning how to read people, so you never developed basic social intuition. It’s confusing, you can’t read people’s reactions. So your inward and outward reactions are confusing as well.
People are hard to read, so you act weird. In turn, they react confused or annoyed. It feels like they don’t like you. You are rejected. And it hurts. People don’t seem to like you, so you assume it is always true. Based on this you start avoiding rejection.
Another reason you believe people don’t like you could be bad past experiences. Ones that have shown you how bad people can treat you. For example, In high school, I used to get thrown in the trash can on numerous ‘festive’ occasion, ostracized during lunch breaks and down right ignored at parties. These experiences stick, they can become key moments defining your view of the world. And of people.
Or maybe, as you moved through your life, you listened to the world – the world listened to you – and you heard that you are not enough. According to all popular media: You are not skinny, muscular, intelligent, beautiful, cool, or whatever enough. Because that is what is communicated everywhere right? That is what you see. The big cool guy has friends, and the crazy extrovert waiter there gets attention. And you – just pitiful you – don’t get attention or friends. You feel unworthy of appreciation and kindness.
A final possible reason – due to your negative view of people and you low self esteem, you become needy, clingy even. In the few interactions you do have, you crave approval of others. You desperately want to be validated. But this only leads to the opposite. People are disgusted and annoyed – so they reject you yet again.
Numerous reasons why you feel people don’t like you, that you are not worth liking. You notice it every day. People act rude, don’t reach out and never come talking to you.
You’ve used your limited anecdotal experience as statistical evidence to believe you are unlikable.
But it is not because you see this proof that you believe people don’t like you.
It’s because you believe nobody likes you that you see the proof!
Your lens of the world
Technically, you are not more than a supercomputer in an organic hard case. A meaning-making machine . The world consists of a bunch of random events. As a human, you are good at finding relations and logic, even if they are not there. And consequently, adhering stories and value to these patterns.
The meaning and the stories are made by you. They are a byproduct of your existing beliefs. And if your belief states that you are unworthy, that people don’t like you, you will only see this in the world! You find this meaning everywhere in the world.
Again: Seeing is not believing – believing is seeing!
Let’s take a simpler example. Moods can determine your experience. If you are grumpy, everything in the world sucks. The weather sucks, your daily commute is exhausting. Let alone that damn pile of work you have to process.
On the other hand, if you are in a happy mood, the world is beautiful. It is nice to ride to work in the beautiful city. People smile at you. And man do you look forward to the challenges at work.
Same world – different mood.
Your mood, your state, has entirely decided what meaning, and what experience you had that day. If something as fleeting as emotions can determine your experience, what about deeply ingrained beliefs? Yes – they determine everything!
Believing and acting
So what to do? How do you change that deep belief? By trying really hard to believe in something else? Mantras? Maybe. But I would suggest start acting differently, despite your beliefs. That means, invest in yourself and take care of yourself even if it makes you uncomfortable.
You act your way into believing.
And believe your way into acting.
Think about this:
So how would you treat yourself if people liked you? If you liked yourself? How would others treat you? How would you carry yourself? Would you treat yourself right? Yes! – so work out, eat healthy, sleep well. Don’t spend your time indulging on Youtube and Reddit everyday; go out and do something!
Start doing that – act like you would esteem yourself highly!
Taking good care of yourself will create a positive momentum that spills over into your inner life and social life. It’s not about faking that you like yourself; it’s about investing in yourself long enough that you actually start liking and respecting yourself.
Better social beliefs and habits
So you slowly, yet steadily, transition to a state of liking yourself. How about acting like everybody else likes you too? If you like someone, there is a big chance they will like you back. So if you start acting, convincing yourself that everybody likes you, people will mirror that believe, and like you back! Smile, approach openly, start with enthusiasm.
They will like you! Because you approach with a smile, ‘convinced’ you get a positive reaction back. Does it seem like faking? Maybe, but the feelings are real right?
If you do this, 90% of the time people will reciprocate. Believing you like them as well. Creating a positive vibe. You convey a certain reality – a certain meaning, and you drag people along in it. Or as I like to live it by:
“Whatever you think the world is withholding from you, you are withholding from the world.” – Eckhart Tolle
So like people! As you do, you just might start seeing (and believing) that people do really like you.
But even if some people don’t, you know you will be fine! Because you learned to like yourself. Your self worth is not based on getting the approval of everyone. It is founded on investing in yourself constantly – and respecting yourself for it!
Body practice for the mind
So what else can you do to learn and overcome your limiting beliefs? And your limited social experience. Study body language! Learn what is good – and what is bad. What conveys closed of behavior, what defensive or aggressive? How are people excited and happy? Or shy and timid? See it! Hear their tones, not their words. Know what is up.
And for that matter, pay attention to your own. How do you stand when you feel down, or when you feel up? That’s right, you hunch down, or you stand up right. So how about standing straight if you feel down, walk with confident trod? Does it make you feel better? Experiment with how posture/ body language is affected by mood and vice versa.
Experiment and have fun.
Furthermore – nothing gets you liked, or at least respected, more than making eye contact. Feel like someone doesn’t respect you for no reason – make eye contact. Meet their gaze – see how you connect (or not). Having a hard time? That little triangle between eyes and nose is a great point to focus on. Or switch watching from one eye to the other, until you are used to it.
You will better see how people feel about you. At the same time, you convey your own feelings as well.
For bonus, smile as you see people! Make it your responsibility to give the positivity first – and it will be reciprocated so often! As you feel the other person likes you, have fun, and see how you brighten their day.
So why all these body language tips? These seem like little tricks that fool yourself and others. Well, this is a huge chunk of social communication. That elusive layer that you don’t seem to get.
If some people still don’t like you
But there will be times people really don’t like you. For whatever reason – they have a bad day – you acted foolish. No matter. If people act out – that is the only time you should be mean back. No other reason – the rest of the time keep acting like people like you.
Only if proven otherwise – act accordingly.
Ignore rude people, shut them down – and don’t be dragged down with their negativity. They are a waste of your time. It’s probably not about you, but about them. If it is a relation at work – learn to just stay professional.
Start believing now
All these changes will create momentum. Creating a better you – a better social life – a healthier belief. And people will really like you! Bleeding into your self-esteem, making you treat yourself even better! Act your way out of that downward spiral into the upward one.
So how about it?
Imagine how it would be like? How would it be if people liked you? What a feeling! How would you act? See it! Do it! Get started now!
Go out there and get those first few wins by acting out what you want to believe.
Go get them!
Timon is a coach who helps nerdy guys develop their socials skills and confidence. Addressing all aspects related to socializing. Including psychology, sociology, and philosophy. The openness, humor and self-mockery are included bonuses :). Check this out if you want to know more about having great conversations.