“I am not for everyone, and everyone is not for me.”
I posted this in my Whinypaluza Mom group on Facebook. Come find me there. I had no idea the women in my group would respond how they did. I greatly appreciated their openness and vulnerability in admitting their struggles with this concept. I thought this was common sense. My husband is going to scold me when he reads that I just wrote that. He told me that I need to throw the concept of common sense out the window. He tells me things that I think are common sense are not common sense. I think I just learned that he is right. Seth, you can read that again and smile. You are right. I need to throw away the words common sense. Is anything really common sense?
I am definitely a recovering people pleaser. I even wrote a blog “I Have an Addiction,” on people pleasing if you want to go read it. I admit that I like peace and I want everyone to be happy. I admit that I like to please people. However, over the years I have learned a lot about this. I have learned that people are okay being upset. They can handle it. I have learned that I was not valuing myself enough wanting to please everyone. I have learned that conflict is ok. You probably need me to say that one again. Conflict is okay. It is okay to have a conflict with someone. If it’s someone who values you, you two will work it out. You can even model conflict resolution skills for your children.
My children have taught me that they aren’t going to like everyone. I was expecting them to like everyone, and they didn’t. I don’t know where I got that expectation from. My daughter would tell me someone always talks right in her face, and it bothered her a lot. We talked about asking for personal space. My other daughter would tell me someone was just too wild for her. My son would come home and tell me about a boy who kept getting into trouble at school who he was steering clear of. How could I argue with any of these complaints? They clearly didn’t like everyone. There have even been kids that I wanted them to be friends with that they didn’t agree with. We can’t force it. Our kids want to be friends with who they choose.
There was a mom that I thought was abrasive. She rubbed me the wrong way from when I first met her. I really try to keep an open mind from my first impressions, but my first impressions tend to be correct. She would brag about her house, her car, her new ring, and I would cringe inside and wonder why all the other moms seemed to like her. I thought that something was wrong with me. Why didn’t I like her? Shouldn’t I like everyone? I’m not going to give you the long details, but this mom was not nice to me. I realized so many things in this experience. I realized I need to trust my instincts. I realized I didn’t need to like everyone. I realized that everyone isn’t nice. I realized that I was beginning to learn how to draw boundaries with women. I had learned it with men through a bad relationship, but I was starting to learn that I needed boundaries with women. This was one of the first times I gave myself permission to be okay not liking someone.
When people described me as sweet and nice, I associated that with needing to like everyone. A mother in my group pointed out a really good point: we don’t need to like everyone, but we need to learn to deal with them. We need to be polite. This is something that she has taught her children. I could still be nice and sweet and be polite to people that I wasn’t crazy about. I didn’t have to not be me to not like someone.
My kids have called me the word “extra.” If you know me, you know that I can be: loud, bubbly and outgoing. My kids all laugh at me as I dance around the kitchen. I love being crazy and making them laugh. If I did that in public, they would cringe with embarrassment. If you have seen the Goldberg’s on tv, my husband and my daughter Ella think it’s funny to call me Beverly. She is an extra overprotective Jewish mother. I know I can act like her. If you have seen Modern Family on tv, my son Max likes to tell me that I remind him of Cameron on the show. He thinks this because Cameron is very caring and also very loud and expressive. Max loves how caring I am, and I can also be too much for Max. He is introverted and more to himself. If I can be too much for my son, doesn’t that mean that I can be too much for other people too? I don’t want to have to change who I am for someone to like me.
Maybe someone doesn’t like that you are:
Don’t have kids
Etc. Etc. Etc.
We don’t want to have to change who we authentically are for someone to like us. Don’t we want people to like us for who we truly are? We have heard people say that: if they are your true friend, they will love you for who you are. Dr. Seuss says, “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” That’s a smart cat.
We don’t want fake friends who like us for who we are pretending to be. I have realized over the years that I can tell my true friends anything. If they disagree with me, they still love me. Do we have to agree on things to be friends? I don’t think that we do.
What is most important is that you like yourself. You are not going to like or respect yourself if you are working hard to make someone like you. I have also learned I shouldn’t have to try really hard. When I am trying hard and trying to force the friendship it is just not a good fit. We are not a fit with everyone.
I give myself and all of you permission to not have to like everyone. We can still be nice in the process. In return, everyone is not going to like me. I am going to be too extra for some people. Maybe someone is saying, “She is too much for me.” A boy in high school said, “She can’t really be that nice. She’s such a politician.” Think about it this way – there were boys who liked me, and I didn’t return the feelings. There were boys I had feelings for who didn’t return my feelings. This goes the same for friendships.
There are billions of people in this world. I promise you that you won’t like all of them and all of them won’t like you. The sooner we all realize this the more peace we will find within. The sooner we learn this, the sooner we can work on teaching this to our children. We give people more power than they deserve. Take back your power and worry more about what you think of yourself. That is what truly matters. True acceptance comes from within. Let’s focus our attention on the people who really matter to us. Everyone is not worth our time and attention.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
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