I want you to like me

By May 22, 2016Individual Therapy

At what point in your life did you begin to believe that it was wrong to care what other people thought about you? At what point did you tell yourself that such a desire was immature, ridiculous, and a sign that you have no self esteem? It is so sad for me to witness over and over again people berating themselves for what I believe are natural and healthy human impulses. Of course we ALL care what people think about us. We all want to feel valued, respected and appreciated for who we are. But somehow most of us get the message, somewhere along the line, that we should be terribly concerned and ashamed about this desire.
Let me tell you about my seven year old son. He is completely at ease with his desire to be seen and valued. He has no ambivalence about declaring “Look at me” as he proudly attempts a cartwheel. Sure, the exhilaration of feeling his body fly through the air is well worth the effort of the cartwheel. But he wants more. He wants to be SEEN tumbling through the air. He wants applause. He wants recognition that he practiced hard to master that move. And, if they were handing out ribbons for his wonderful feat, he would receive it with absolute pride.
He would not sit down and think to himself, “What is WRONG with me? Why can’t I just enjoy the cartwheel all by myself? I clearly have no self esteem? I am clearly flawed.”
“But”, you might say to me, “I should have outgrown such a need.” Its MY job now to validate myself.
And, as far as I’m concerned, that sounds as ill-advised to me as , “Its MY job now to give myself a hug”, or “Its MY job now to create my OWN oxygen to breathe.”
In short, I believe that it is a basic human need to feel liked and valued by others. It is not a pathology. And, it is not something that we should strive to live without.
Sure, we should consider if we are contorting ourselves in order to be liked, if we are abandoning our selves, our boundaries, our self respect in order to be liked. These are valid and valuable questions to explore. But to berate and pathologize ourselves for the underlying NEED itself compels us to take up arms against the wrong enemy, compels us to attack ourselves for wanting a little applause for our beautiful cartwheel; the one that might not be perfectly straight, or fluid, or fancy, but that is ours, is us