Being Likable

Do you ever hear a comment that rocks your world? Someone makes an off-hand comment to you that reverberates through your brain for days? Maybe they were joking or being lighthearted. Maybe they were telling you something they assumed you already knew. Maybe, even, they were telling you something you’ve heard before. But for some reason, it hits your brain or emotions from a different angle this time. And bam! You can’t shake the thought of those words.

When this happens to me, I know those words have something to teach me. Or these are words to sum up something I’ve already been learning but hadn’t articulated yet. Or they are affirming something deep in my soul that God has been whispering to me through a hundred different voices and directions. But I’m a slow learner, so sometimes it takes a hundred and one before I say, “A-ha! That’s what you mean, God!”

Recently someone told me that I am “pretty likable most of the time.” Pretty likable. Most of the time.

At first, that stung. I am a recovering people-pleaser, a recovering approval addict.

Throughout my life, I have wanted everyone to like me. I even wanted people I didn’t like to like me! Several years ago, I had repeated encounters with a handful of people who abused their power and hurt my family. I really didn’t like them. And still I really wanted them to like me!

If you have done the  Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment, then you’ll know what I mean when I say that both Belief and WOO (winning others over) are in my top 5. They regularly battle it out within me. Because you cannot consistently speak up for your beliefs, be true to yourself, and win everyone over. This tension between Belief and WOO, between wanting to be authentic and wanting to be liked, between standing up for what I believe and wanting to win everyone over, has been strong for most of my life.

But gradually, my desire to be authentic and to speak up for the things I believe has outgrown my desire to be liked by everyone.

This quote by Brene’ Brown has been resonating with me lately:


If I’m liked by everyone all of the time, then am I even a separate person with opinions and ideas?

So I guess I have come to terms with the truth that not everyone is going to like me. Some people won’t like me any of the time. Some people will like me some of the time, but not all of the time. A tiny handful of people will like me all of the time – or at least, they’ll love me all of the time.

Maybe a more honest statement is that I am still coming to terms with this. But I am more OK with it than I used to be. That’s growth!

You see, the thing I have been learning and the thing I want my kids to know is — there are things more important than being liked. Being honest. Standing up for what’s right. Speaking truth. Having our outsides and insides match – having integrity. Being compassionate. Pursuing the things that reflect the heart of God. Chasing dreams. Defending the least of these. Resisting abuses of power. Respecting ourselves and setting boundaries.

So – I am pretty likable most of the time. All while trying to live honestly and stand up for what’s right and speak the truth and pursue God’s heart on issues and defend the oppressed and resist abuses of power and respect myself and set boundaries. I’m calling that a win!


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