The very long title and topic of this post comes from my blog’s search terms.
I could write a post just on how to deal with people and another on how to deal with people who don’t like you no matter what type of person you are. But I’ll keep it specific — how to deal with people who don’t like you when you’re a highly sensitive introvert.
The truth is a highly sensitive introvert should deal with people who don’t like them in the same way a hardy extrovert should deal with people who don’t like them: Don’t give a crap.
If that person or persons aren’t preventing you from being/doing/having what you want, who cares?
It takes getting older to reach that “I don’t care” stage. At some point you do some math and realize you have less time ahead of you than behind you and you make a decision not to waste the time and energy you have left caring about people who don’t like you. At least I made that decision.
However, highly sensitive introverts have some special issues that make getting to the “I don’t care” stage more difficult and involved.
Introverts or people who deal with stuff by taking it inside tend to, as Laurie Helgoe put it in her book Introvert Power,“hoard responsibility” when relationships become fraught or when everyone and their dogs don’t like them.
Highly sensitive introverts have the added tendency to not just hoard responsibility but to spin and spin and process and process, deeper and deeper the whys and hows of the dislike.
The highly sensitive introvert who was trying to figure how to deal with people who don’t like them probably wants to know not just how to deal with someone who doesn’t like them, but how to deal with the pain of it; how to deal with the uncomfortable feeling of disharmony and tension.
Short answer: the amount of pain you experience as a result of being disliked is directly proportional to the amount of energy you give to seeking the approval and validation of others.
Withdraw that energy and your pain will decrease.
Some time in the ’90s I read this heavily paraphrased sentence in the book Callings by Gregg Levoy : “Some people in life will love you, some will hate you, and everyone else is completely indifferent.” Sometimes what you think is dislike is really just indifference.
It’s comforting to me to think about people in terms of where they belong on this pie chart (I love charts). No need to take it personally when someone doesn’t like you. They’re just part of the largest part of the pie.
The other thing to look at (and you may not want to look at) is your unacknowledged dislike of other people.
It’s easier to assume the problem and the pain is being caused by someone and something outside of you. It’s easier to try and figure out how to deal with people who don’t like you than it is to countenance the fact that maybe these people you assume don’t like you are reflecting your own disapproval back to you.
Looking at your dislike of others is the only way to prevent you from dealing with people disliking you in the most useless, life-sucking way: by people-pleasing.
Highly sensitive people are especially susceptible to succumbing to the people-pleasing disease because we happen to be very aware, to KNOW, when people don’t like us. I know I am. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to be more talkative, open, and breezy or extroverted and easy going when I knew someone was disapproving of my regular reticent, inward-dwelling-and-loving-it self. I said yes to a lot of stuff when I wanted to say no. I hate that I put other people’s comfort and pleasure ahead of my own just so I wouldn’t have to deal with their possible disapproval.
Now I use my ability to know when someone doesn’t like me to rejoice. I rejoice because it’s one less person with whom I have to spend energy making small talk. Yippee!
If you spend too much time pleasing people, at some point you’ll look around at yourself and your life and wonder “What the hell happened? Where am I?” What happened is you sold yourself out in order to please people and it sucked the life right out of you. There is no you anymore.
So resist the urge to “deal with” or do something about someone who doesn’t like you. Because if you are a real, raw, honest, complicated, feeling, human being there will always be people who don’t like you. And you should want to be a real, raw, honest, complicated, feeling, human being.
I still struggle with wanting to be liked by everyone and feeling like crap when it doesn’t happen. Just yesterday I learned that I was not well-liked for who I was and for reasons that have nothing to do with me. And I was sad and angry about it…for about 3 minutes.
Then I felt a fire inside of me.
If people aren’t going to like me no matter what I do, I might as well do whatever the fuck I want.
Sometimes people not liking you feels like freedom.