Being Liked and Me

I couldn’t tell you when it started but at some point in my life I needed to be liked.  This need hounded and drove me toward whatever I needed to do in order to be liked by whomever I was trying to impress at the time.  I remember feeling like a store where I would change the window front depending on the group I was relating to at the time.  Looking back, there were things that were some real positives.   For instance, I mastered relating with almost anyone and could blend in with most groups.  Even today I enjoy this quality because I’m not afraid to take classes, do retreats, or try something new by myself.  I also became disciplined in order to be successful, which led to being liked.  This need to be liked, to some degree, probably led me to become a therapist because I sincerely loved being with all different types of people. I found that with each group or individuals I had access to parts of myself that I didn’t necessarily have without them.

What wasn’t so helpful about this need to be liked is that I attended to others’ opinion in order to judge whether something was valuable or not.  I would attach to significant mentors and want to become who they wanted me to become but at the expense of listening to my soul or God’s revelation in my life.  Most of the time I felt like one big false self because I would keep hidden those things within me that I didn’t think would find approval.  What this practically translated into was many people knowing little bits about me rather than a small group knowing a great deal about me.  I think this practice of attending to what others think has paralyzed me from starting this blog much earlier than now.  Even after I wrote my first post, I felt too exposed and vulnerable to share on facebook that I had started it.  I gave myself a couple of days to let what I had written sink in so that I could experience a sort of grace towards myself that allowed the post to be just as it was, not perfect but good enough.

What I think I’m slowly learning in my life is that this need to be liked has nothing to do with needing affirmation or needing to know I’m likable.  Rather, I think most poignantly it is, and was, about needing to escape myself –needing to escape a relentless critical self that could recall the minutest details and shame the imperfections.  There were many times I’ve not been able to avoid it.  When I was in high school it was so loud I wanted to commit suicide to shut it out.  I’m deeply thankful that I needed to be liked because it was likely the experience of being liked and valued that caused me never to act on these feelings.  Spending all of my twenties in therapy helped me to quiet down the volume enough so that it wasn’t the driving force behind every action I made.  I even learned to get out of the hamster wheel and not be blasted by self-criticism until I got back inside the wheel.  Yet, it is something that will never go away.  I’ve accepted that.  Now I’m trying to befriend it so that I can be curious about why it’s showed itself again.  I’m befriending it as well so that I don’t need to be liked by others in order to pretend to like myself.  I’m befriending it even still so that I don’t have to numb myself with chocolate, romantic movies (because shame and rejection is always met with love and acceptance, in the end), or external accomplishments in order to believe that I’m good enough and worthy to be accepted.

I’m grateful for this blog and the opportunity to practice quieting the criticism and opening up to being me — imperfections and all.

Grateful.

Kimber

3 thoughts on “Being Liked and Me

  1. You words ring true to my soul. Years have past since we were once close yet there is always a special place in my heart that remembers the grace you shown me. I appreciate your transparency and courage in allowing us to share in your journey.

    Imperfections and all,

    Jeremy

    • Thank you for your kind words, Jeremy. I think of you often at my 6 am workout…such a great friend to sacrifice sleep so we could workout together :).

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