Have you noticed two types
of confident people at
gatherings — those who seek
out others, indulge in back-
slapping joviality and show
great concern, and those who maintain a distance and
dignity, and yet are no less
caring and giving?
The first are popular and liked by all, while the second earn a lasting respect.
Who doesn’t want to be liked? Ironically, the need for respect is far higher in the former back-slapper than that of the latter dignified type, who is probably higher on substance and self-esteem.
As per psychologist theory Hierarchy of Needs, once the basic needs of food, shelter, security and sex are dealt with, human beings look for one more critical need — before aiming for the highest level of self-actualisation — and that is the fundamental need to be liked and be held in high esteem by others.
Indeed, to be accepted and
valued by others is a driving
force that influences most of our actions. From an early age,a child is made conscious of the need to be liked by others. “Don’t be greedy, what will Uncle say?”, “Come on, you don’t want others to think you are a naughty girl, do
you?” Children carry forth this need for approval into adulthood, making critical choices of education, careers, even love and marriage with an eye on the approval metre.
What will people say’ becomes such a huge issue that many an ambition, out-of-the-box thought or intuitive plan is sacrificed at this altar. Those who can overcome this need are the solitary marchers, the
mavericks, the real achievers. At the risk of alienating other siblings, a child vies to be liked and admired best by his or her parents.
To become the teacher’s pet, a student willingly sacrifices the trust and friendship of classmates. In order to win approval and acceptance from peers, adolescents indulge in acts of revolt. As age advances, the desire to be liked and approved by others becomes more pronounced, especially amongst those who lack self-esteem, and have a constant desire to be reassured that their life has been worth something. This trait is commonly observed amongst famous people who live on a diet of admiration and adulation.
As age advances and their popularity declines, celebrities make desperate attempts to retain their status in the eyes of others, failing which, they slip into depression or alcoholism, which allows them to dwell in a fanciful world as life ebbs away.
Interestingly, when psychologist talks of ‘esteem’, a critical component of his theory is ‘self-esteem’. He distinguishes between ‘lower’ esteem and ‘higher’ esteem, the former being the need to be liked by others, and the latter being respect for one’s own self.
To achieve the higher self-
esteem, one needs to turn
focus from others to one’s own self, from outside to
within. What others think of
you becomes irrelevant as
you start trusting your own
judgment and strictly
following your own code of ethics. From a follower you
become a role model, from an “also was”, you move to “the one”!
This doesn’t however mean
that if you develop self-
esteem, you do not care for
others. A certain amount of
societal approval is always
necessary. We all love to be liked, and so, we inculcate
pleasant manners and
behaviour towards that end.
We smile at another, hoping
for a smile back; we help
others, hoping one day to be helped back. And it is these niceties that make life worth living.
What is important is to
understand that there are
plenty of ways to make people notice/like you and seek your company. Actions, critical decisions and your behaviour must never be dictated purely by what others will think of you. No matter how you mould
yourself to the casts set by
others, the world will still admire the man who marches to his own drum and follows his own set of rules and principles; the one who maintains his dignity and doesn’t spread himself too thin in an attempt to please the world.
Attract people by your width of substance, depth of knowledge, strength of moral fibre, and vast wisdom, rather than by making shallow gestures that people can see through. What matters at the end of the day is — Did you achieve your full potential? Did you live with dignity and self-respect? Did you stay true to your own principles? If yes, don’t worry about others liking or disliking you. Your own self-esteem will be so high that it will attract the greatest regard from all.