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Everything You Do Is Wrong
Alfred Adler considers this a foundational aspect of the Adlerian world view. People will dislike you. He says that in any given room 1 of every 10 people will dislike you. 2 out of 10 will like you. And the other 7 will pay you no interest.
But many of us obsess over others’ perceptions as their feedback & attention serves as a primary source of self-worthiness. We do this in our jobs, with our family, and with our partners. These relationships give us tangible oh-so-lovely feedback through promotions, affirmations, and a sense of belonging. And we become addicted to these modes of feedback, unconsciously expecting them with every interaction.
But that’s not reality. People will dislike you. You will be wrong, to someone.
And that hurts. It hurts so bad that we’d rather people please and conform our thoughts, beliefs, and actions to appease others. We’d rather continuously adapt to the needs of others than sit with the experience of failing someone.
Why do we do this? Why do we change ourselves to make the 1 out of 10 outlier happy? Why do we shape-shift and bend to the whims of a rare naysayer? It’s known as the Spotlight Effect. We overestimate the degree to which other people are noticing or observing our appearance or actions.
We do this because we’re wired for social belonging. It’s a primitive, deep-down need. One that helped us survive and thrive for tens of thousands of years. But we’re in a different reality now and it’s time for a calibration.
When we aren’t congruent with who we are, we’ve lost our freedom. We are no longer making our own choices, rather we are making choices that we think will prevent a rare naysayer from hurting us. We’re choosing fear over courage. We are conforming and doing what we think is needed to stay safe.
Adler says true freedom is having the courage to be disliked. To recognize that there’s always at least one naysayer in the group who is going to dislike you no matter what you do. He says courage is accepting that and carrying on with confidence. To do what is true to you, despite the one who dislikes you. Freedom is not letting fear control your thoughts, mindset, or behaviors. Freedom is accepting that people will dislike you and then being a courageous, unmovable you.
What can you do to develop the courage to be disliked? Try this:
Notice when you get tense in social situations. Notice when you are ruminating on what people think of you or are in the midst of people pleasing. Take some deep breaths and simply take note of it. Don’t try to change it. Remember that this is natural.
Name this experience as the ‘Rare Naysayer’. A circumstance created from the rare one person who naturally doesn’t like you. If it helps, think of the Rare Naysayer as an object of some sort. Whatever intuitively comes to mind. Visualize the color, shape, and texture of this object.
Speak or journal to this object clearly, kindly, and firmly: “You are a rare naysayer. You are a natural occurrence. You protected me for thousands of years. Thank you. But I no longer need your help. I am courageous. I am enough. I’m going to practice being me.”.
With some distance from the experience, notice how you now feel. Notice your innate courage to do, say, and believe whatever is true to you. Notice your inner-capacity to live according to your values.
To dive deeper on this topic I recommend reading The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga.
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