Why Do We Want People To Like Us?

To elaborate on my previous post, When Speaking The Truth Makes You A Target, what is stopping us from speaking the truth? Why do we hold back?
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When it all comes down to it, the motivation behind our failure to boldly speak the truth is fear. We’re afraid of something. In our daily lives, this fear manifests itself most commonly in the fear of what other people will think of us.like us cover
Now where does that come from? Why do we care so much about what other people think about us? Evolutionary biologists would say we have an instinctive need to feel accepted because it helps ensure our survival. If we conform and make sure we “fit in” and people like us…then our chances for survival are greater. While these biologists have correctly observed that our desire to be liked by others is instinctive, they have over-stepped their bounds of expertise and are making philosophical conclusions based on their scientific findings.
Regardless, in our everyday lives, I don’t think we are motivated to “fit in” and be liked out of a sense of self-preservation. Most of us are not in danger of dying if people dislike us because of our beliefs. Now, in other parts of the world, this may be the case, but in America, we are allowed freedom of speech (for now.) So what is it we fear? Why do we want other people to like us?
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The irony of pride

Often, I think it comes down to pride. On some subconscious level, we think people should have to like us. That’s pride. No one has to like us. No one has to like you. Why is it a problem if people don’t like you? Who are we to think other people have to like us?
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The irony is that in order to satisfy our pride, in order to get others to like us…we change ourselves. We allow ourselves to compromise, or we stay silent when we should speak up. We’re letting other people dictate who we are and what we say. If we’re as great as we think we are, why then do we try so hard to hide or change who we are so others can like us?
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Today, the world shouts, “Be yourself!” but then rejects you if you are not being like everyone else. So instead we see a lot of people who think they are “being themselves” when they are really just fitting into some cultural expectation or stereotype. People become Goth, or emo, or get a lot of tattoos or body piercings or dye their hair pink or do something crazy with their clothing—all in the name of individualism and self-expression. But in the end, they’re copy-cats, and it’s all an attempt to draw attention, either negative or positive, which all comes down to pride.
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If we are going to be ambassadors for Christ, spreading His truth and love, we can’t let pride get in our way. We have to give up our desire to be liked by other people. What people think about us can’t hurt us anyway. The only opinion that matters is God’s.

Sticks and stones?

One year at my elementary school, an author came to our school to talk and read her books to us. I think we even had an entire week dedicated to the author leading up to her visit. We studied her life and read her books, learning all about the author. Her books were about her life growing up as a little girl.
In a particular book that she was reading in front of the whole school, she recounted a time her life where she was being verbally bullied at school. I don’t remember much from the rest of her visit, but during the school assembly where she read that book to the school, she said something that I never forgot. I don’t know why it stood out to me so much, but I can still picture her saying it, and I can still hear her voice.
You know that expression, ‘sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me,’ well that’s not true. Words do hurt.”
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I still remember my little second-grade-self thinking that she was wrong. As she said that, I was reminded of what my dad would tell me whenever my little brother would aggravate or provoke me to anger.
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You’re letting him control you. Don’t let him control you [with his words].”
I hated the idea of being controlled by my little brother, and I learned then that words ultimately only affect us if we let them. That’s why I couldn’t help but think to myself that this author could have avoided a lot of emotional pain if she cared less about what others thought, and didn’t let them control her.
Of course, some people can take pride too far in the other direction and have total disregard for what people think to the point where they are flat out rude, insulting, and disrespectful to others. That total disregard for people is also extremely prideful, and not what I’m advocating.
Instead, we should care so much about helping other people…that we couldn’t care less about what they happen to think of us.
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Selfishness and pride prevent us from speaking the truth to others. Being too concerned with getting others to like us actually isn’t good for the people we are trying to please, let alone ourselves. We have to give that up. We have to drop our pride and boldly live for Christ, joyously proclaiming His truth upon the “rooftops”, even if this may make us unpopular. After all, who are we to think we should be well-liked? Christ and His kingdom are all that matter, not our own, which will pass away.

2 Comments

  1. Wow. That’s…that’s what I needed today. Thank you. 🙂

    — Amanda F

  2. This reminded me of these passages – John 15:18-27, 1 Peter 4:12-19, 1 John 3:13…

    Some good food for thought! 😀

    Psalm 115:1, Psalm 117!

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