Maybe you point to past experiences that justify this notion of people not liking you. You’ve been rejected by a person or group you thought you could hang out with. You were in a friendly conversation with someone until it turned awkward or bad in some way, and that potential friendship dissolved. Or you asked out someone and that person turned you down. It’s an awful feeling–you might say the worst feeling in the world.
But if you’re honest with yourself, you can begin to see that the idea of nobody liking you is irrational and needlessly torturing you. Consider these things:
- You don’t know all 6 billion people in the world. You haven’t met most of them. (If you have, you’re kind of unique–I’d like to know your secret.) How do you know that each and every single one of them don’t like you?
- People come in all shapes and sizes, colors and varieties and have all kinds of preferences in friends and lovers. How do you know that you, with all your quirks, interests, insecurities and unique qualities, can’t appeal to someone out there?
- YOU have preferences in friends and lovers too. Let me guess…is your ideal group of friends people who sit around and smoke pot all day? (Not judging them.) Or, would you like to be “down” with a group of guys who like to rob banks? I’m guessing not (and I could be wrong). You might want to hang out with a group that likes to go skateboarding, for instance, but you’re not so keen on hanging with groups of classical violinists. Or the other way around. Or, you’d hang with both groups, because you’re an especially open-minded and curious person. (If so, beware: you’re a rarity among human beings.) Similarly, you might find a certain hair color, eye color, culture/ethnicity, personality, etc. attractive in the opposite sex. My point? YOU have preferences too. That means you would “reject” people too for deep friendships and romantic relationships, even though you might be able to imagine yourself being polite and acquainting yourself with them. So don’t be too shocked that a CERTAIN person or even a few CERTAIN people don’t want to share their lives with you; it may just be a matter of the individual preferences and the level of flexibility that we’re all entitled to.
- Social anxiety, isolation, rejection, and depression make you feel bad. You tend to think in absolutes (“nobody likes me,” “nobody would ever be my friend,” “no girl/guy would ever date me,” “my life is worthless,” etc.) and make harsh generalizations about the world when you feel bad. Put two and two together, and notice something interesting: when you feel bad, you’re more likely to think nobody likes you. The key is to make yourself feel better with the tools at your disposal, whether it’s through proper doses of medication, cognitive therapy, self-help books, breathing exercises, diving into your hobbies and interests, and challenging yourself to push your social boundaries each and every day. The power to feel better is squarely in your hands.
So when that naughty little thought arises in your head, extinguish it with some more rational, more realistic and more positive thinking.