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The Paradox Of Likeability – Why Seeking Approval From The Unimportant Is Just Not Important

With over fifteen years of experience in Mental Health, Accessibility and Diversity and Inclusion, Aisha has used her experience as a strategic advisor and health coach to understand the complexity and intersectionality of the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual barriers that keep people from achieving their optimized health and wellness.

Executive Contributor Aisha Saintiche

You know what is so cool about having people in your life that are in alignment with your values and beliefs and just your whole vibe? They send you memes, posts and video clips that literally capture some of the most important thoughts and beliefs you have.

Photo of Aisha Saintiche wearing red hat

Well, this month’s article is the result of a post sent to me by best friend – Reena- a little while ago that I not only saved, but voice noted to myself that this would be my article for this month – that’s how profound it was!

The video clip was a snippet of a very powerful speech by Chimanda Ngozi Adichi (a Nigerian writer, novelist, poet, essayist, and playwright of postcolonial feminist literature and public speaker) In this clip she talks about the danger and damage we are creating and teaching our young girls and women around the notion of likeability and the need for external validation by others. That if we aren’t liked, then we must somehow find a way to “change” our authentic being so that others can like us. To that (and Chimanda echoes my sentiments) I say B*****T (there is a strict policy on using profanity in these articles - which I fully respect – so I will leave you to figure out what I said…lol).

Do you know how refreshing it is to see and hear a woman speak such powerful words to girls and women so that they may begin to emancipate themselves from the toxic narrative about being what others need you to be instead of being who you are intended to be in the name of ‘likeability’. While my current mindset is in full alignment with a life driven by the audacity to be my authentic and unapologetic self, there was once a version of myself more concerned about the views of the unimportant!

Listen to me. In a world increasingly driven by social media validation and external approval, the concept of likeability has taken on a heightened significance. However, while being liked can certainly open doors and smooth pathways, an overemphasis on being liked by everyone, especially those who hold no real value in your life, can be detrimental to your personal growth and happiness. Understanding the paradox of likeability can free you from the unnecessary burden of seeking approval from those who shouldn't matter.

The nature of likeability

Likeability is often seen as a key factor in personal and professional success. Being liked can lead to better relationships, increased opportunities, and a generally smoother navigation through life’s challenges. I mean let’s be real - it's human nature to want to be liked (nothing wrong with that); it stems from our evolutionary need for social bonds and community support.

However, likeability becomes a double-edged sword when it turns into a constant pursuit, especially when directed toward individuals who have little to no impact on our lives. The pursuit of universal approval can lead to stress, anxiety, and a diluted sense of self.

Distinguishing between valuable and inconsequential opinions

Here’s another gem drop: Not everyone’s opinion should hold weight in your life. Period!

It’s crucial to discern whose feedback truly matters. Friends, family, mentors, and colleagues who have a direct impact on your well-being and success are worth considering. Their feedback can provide valuable insights and help you grow.

On the other hand, the opinions of peripheral individuals—those who neither contribute to your life nor understand your personal journey—should not dictate your actions or self-worth. Letting go of the need to be liked by these individuals can be liberating and allow you to focus on what genuinely matters.

If I have said it once, I will say it again. Seeking validation and likes from people who themselves struggle with a limited mindset is a dead end. No one will ever see you greater than themselves if they are limited by their own mindset, so be careful who’s measuring stick you’re using to assess your greatness!

The power of authenticity

True likeability stems from authenticity (one of my Favorite words). When you are true to yourself, you attract people who appreciate you for who you are, not for a facade you present. Authenticity fosters deeper, more meaningful connections and promotes genuine respect and admiration.

Being authentic means embracing your strengths and acknowledging your areas for assessment and improvement without the fear of judgment from those who do not matter. It involves making choices that align with your values and passions, even if they are unpopular with some.

Building a resilient mindset

If you’re on your journey, with a destination to the amazing land of authenticity, here are some strategies you can employ to begin building a resilient mindset, which will support the sometimes push and pull we feel with the need to be ‘liked.’

  1. Set clear boundaries: Define who matters in your life and whose opinions you value. This helps in filtering out unnecessary noise.

  2. Focus on self-acceptance: Work on accepting and loving yourself. Self-acceptance diminishes the need for external validation.

  3. Cultivate a strong inner circle: Surround yourself with people who uplift and support you. Their genuine feedback is more valuable than the approval of many.

  4. Practice mindfulness: Stay present and mindful. Mindfulness helps in recognizing and letting go of the need for external approval.

  5. Pursue personal goals: Stay focused on your personal and professional goals. Achieving them brings intrinsic satisfaction that external approval cannot match.

Likeability is undoubtedly a valuable trait, but its importance should be measured and balanced. Overemphasizing the need to be liked by everyone, especially by those who hold no significant value in your life, can lead to unnecessary stress and a compromised sense of self. By focusing on authenticity, building meaningful relationships, and valuing self-acceptance over external validation, you can free yourself from the burden of universal likeability and lead a more fulfilling life. Remember, not everyone needs to like you, and that's perfectly okay.


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Aisha Saintiche, Certified Health Coach

Aisha Saintiche is a certified Health Coach and the founder and owner of MetoMoi Health. With over fifteen years of experience in Mental Health, Accessibility and Diversity and Inclusion, Aisha has used her experience as a strategic advisor and health coach to understand the complexity and intersectionality of the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual barriers that keep people from achieving their optimized health and wellness.



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