We often run around trying to make sure that everyone likes us. There is a point to doing some of that, but not as much as many people end up doing.
There are a few concepts that are useful to us here that can lead to this error. Each of these has a good point and when taken out of balance leads to bad habits.
1 – we shouldn’t be mean to people, and if we are, we will lose people who have given up putting up with us. This idea pushes us to want to change to be nicer and more wanted.
However, when taken too far, we fall prone to people who want to take advantage of us.
To check this, changing yourself a bit to fit in is fine, changing a lot is generally bad.
2 – squeaky wheels get oiled, but all wheels need some maintenance oil. When a friend is upset, we quickly want to find out why and help do something about this. When it is because of something you did, or just a random happenstance, AND when a small to moderate thing you can do can help this, then this is a good thing to do.
However, abusive people use fake squeaking to get more than their fair share of oil, which means we give far too much attention to trying to save these abusive people as friends, instead of putting our efforts into maintaining good friends.
To check this, remember that friends are supposed to be easy to work with and having your life. If you are spending large amounts of energy into trying to keep someone, that can be an indication that something has gone wrong. It might be worth considering letting them go.
3 – we often grow up in small families and start going to a small primary school. This helps us learn how to adapt to managing with people, because we have no real choice about who we are associating with. Learning how to adapt to people and manage incompatible people is a good skill to have.
However, there is a reasonable likelihood that none of these people are the kind of people that are good for you. There are many kinds of people and you need to find the kind that are kind to you. That may be your family and childhood friends/associates, but it also may not be. It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to hold on to people who are bad for us because we had little choice when we were young.
To check this, remember that friends should be low effort to maintain (not zero effort). Look at the people whom you are spending lots of personal energy into maintaining and wonder if you actually like them and if they are actually good for your self esteem… or not.
Conclusion: Remember, this planet has over 7,500,000,000 people on it. You have a choice. Hang out with and spend energy on the people who do like you, instead of the people who don’t.