Like: A power greater than love?
For those of you who are not Facebook folks, there is a “like” button you can click to endorse a particular post or to show your support. Until recently, the battle cry from those who love to complain about services they receive for free was, “Why is there no LOVE button? Like is not enough!” We got a “love” button, but I do not see it used nearly as much as the “like” button. Why?
Like is bigger than we think
I think I have cracked that code. It’s because “like” is more important than “love” in the overall scheme of things. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some love. Love makes the world go ’round. Love makes all things possible. The greatest of these is love. Yes, love is fabulous, BUT, “like” is pretty doggone big.
We all have people we feel obligated to love but whom we do not particularly like. In my opinion, a lack of like can contaminate a situation much faster than a lack of love.
Protesting too much
The power of being liked is a bigger part of our ego and self-esteem than I believe we ever acknowledge, even to ourselves. Often, I hear people say things like “I don’t care WHAT people think about me!” My immediate thought is, “Oh sweetheart, yes… yes you do. You sure do.” I think the people who say that are usually the ones most desperate to be liked. They are all but begging people to like them over their acknowledged frailties and brokenness.
I formed this unpopular opinion after years spent as a life coach. Through that profession, I get into the deepest thoughts of my clients’ hearts and spirits and finding out what truly drives them. People who have healed themselves to the point that they do not require or seek the validation of others to feel good about themselves have no need to say it aloud. It radiates from them. What radiates from people who DO say it is the frantic desperation to be accepted.
Insecurity can make us victims
I was never the popular kid, even for five minutes of my childhood. My first husband loved me, but he did not like me. Honestly, even though we are friendly at this point, I am not even sure he likes me as a person now. In the past, I had wild fluctuations in how I dealt with the social issues of being liked. I either became a recluse, only leaving my house to go out for supplies once a week or so, or I got out there and gave it the ol’ college try, attempting to fit into some group or another. Often, it was like watching a child try to hold his or her own in a grown up conversation. Inevitably, I turned into the cartoon dog who jumps back and forth over the bigger dog. You know, the one who begs, “Do you want to go chase cats, George? Do you want to go play ball, George? Huh? Do ya? Huh?” It took me years to recognize that I do that and to muster up the discipline to pull back and not chase others. It became an act of will.
But we are pack animals, right?
The desire to be liked and accepted is a basic human need. We always tend to look to others for endorsement and validation even when we give it to ourselves. I think we do this so instinctively that sometimes we do not even realize we do it. In a theater, we start clapping when others start clapping. We laugh louder when other people laugh. We feel good when someone smiles at us or says that we look nice that day.
Acceptance…a stage of relationship grief
This has been such a formative year for me, building on a formative and impacting force I have felt since 2013. Coming to terms with my own previously disregarded need for acceptance has been an ongoing theme of my recent growth. It is still a work in progress and I constantly question and shift my place in the world and how I interact with others. I am so grateful for those friends who have held in there with me while I find my way.
I faced the discomforting understanding that there are some clubs of which I am just not a part and some that are just not right for me. I have admitted that there are toxic relationships. In some cases, no matter how I try to make the puzzle pieces fit, they just do not produce a healthy picture. In the past, I kept hurtful people around because I told myself they were not intentionally being hurtful. I thought it must be some trigger or weakness in me that created a negative reaction in both of us. I thought it was more admirable to keep them in my life and try to work on my own issues that precipitated this dynamic.
So screw it
In the past couple of weeks, I hit some kind of critical wall and decided I had spent way too much time and energy trying to change how I react to truly negative people. I just let them go. The struggle was taking up too much of my life and my energy. After a few months of contemplation that sometimes went into dark places, I feel as though I am coming into the light. My heart is lighter and at the same time, fuller. I am excited about the next half of this year and what it promises. Slowly but surely, I feel as though my attention is turning to where it needs to be and as that happenings, I find that my relationships are taking care of themselves. Sometimes, you just have to let the world turn a time or two without your input for things to work out exactly the way they should. For a Virgo, that is a humbling lesson, but one for which I am grateful.