Sunday, June 26, 2011

Is your need to be liked holding you back?

Researchers have found that the part of the brain that activates when we experience physical pain also activates when we experience 'social pain' or rejection.

Some researchers believe that the brain has two related 'systems': one is to 'seek' new relationships, the other is to 'protect' from rejection.

Interestingly, while everyone has these two systems, one is often more dominant.  'Seekers' are motivated to make new connections - even if this puts them at risk of rejection.

'Protectors' will want to form new relationships, but will do this with caution.  They are motivated to avoid pain, and some might avoid relationships or sabotage existing ones to prevent being hurt.
  (For more information see Dr Roger Covin's book, The need to be liked.)

Start today

If you're a 'protector', be aware that you may be complicating your life because of your need to avoid rejection:
  • Perhaps you take on too much and burn out more quickly, because you struggle to say 'no'. 
  • Perhaps you avoid difficult conversations in personal and professional relationships, complicating problems and creating stress.
  • Perhaps you let people down, because you spread yourself too thinly in an attempt to please everyone.
  • Perhaps you feel resentful of others who have more time or freedom than you do, because they have firmer boundaries.
  • Perhaps you hold yourself back in your career because being a manager sometimes requires you to do or say things that aren't designed to win you friends.   
  • Perhaps you hold yourself back in your personal life, by not letting others get close enough to risk hurt.
The great irony is that people tend not to like people who have a strong need to be liked!  The constant need for affirmation from others, the 'giving in' and the lack of decision-making in order to please everyone can become quite wearing.

What's the solution?

Learn to be comfortable in your own skin.  Like yourself, and your need for others to fill that void will lessen.

Be true to yourself, even when it's uncomfortable... and watch as saying 'no' becomes easier and you prioritise the things that matter, improve situations through tough conversations, please the right people when it matters most, liberate your time, expand your career and experience deeper, more lasting relationships.     

What's not to like about that?

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