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  Chapter 30 from
It's Not As Tough At Home As You Think
Making Family Life Smoother and Better

By Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski 


Other Available Chapters
4  22  27  78  85  95  99 


People Pleaser Or Pleasant Person

It’s great to be liked by everyone. Let’s face it. That is not reality. We live in a world where there are senseless prejudices. Some people have criteria which determine whom they will like and whom they won’t like.

In Life’s Too Short I listed some of the behaviors that people use to cope with unwarranted feelings of inferiority. Some people who think of themselves as being unlikable may try to gain acceptance and the affection of others by doing things for them. They become “people pleasers.” It’s wonderful to do things for others, but acts of kindness should not be motivated by trying to ingratiate oneself. We should do them because that is the right thing to do. If we like ourselves, we will not be desperate to be liked by the whole world. There are about six billion people in the world. If only half of them like me, that gives me three billion who like me. That should be enough for anyone.

We should do our best to live decent lives. This will not guarantee that everyone will appreciate us. If we realize this and have good self-esteem, then we may have the attitude, “If So and so doesn’t like me, that’s his problem. I’m not responsible for his bad judgment.” This does not mean that one should be vain. A person can be humble and yet think of himself as worthy.

Vanity means thinking of oneself as being superior to others. If a person is aware of his G-d-given talents, that should not make him conceited. To the contrary, he should ask himself whether he has fully actualized his potential. If not, then he must do more. Humility is a feeling of not having done all that one can, and this should stimulate a person to greater achievement. We may be humble yet think of ourselves as worthy and as deserving of other’s affection.

An individual may have or lack self-esteem. So can a family. A person who has unwarranted feelings of inferiority may resort to various defenses to escape these feelings. Many of these defenses may be self-defeating. The same is true of a family. A family that thinks of itself as being less than other families may also resort to self-defeating behaviors.

Obviously, we should avoid doing things that provoke others. We should not make ourselves unlikable. But if we are kind, just, and considerate, we will be liked by sensible people. If people do not like us even though we live proper and decent lives, they are not sensible. Why should we be upset by the opinions of people who are not sensible?

 
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