Anxiety and Feeling Unlikeable: What Can You Do About It?
Try as we might, we humans never quite get over the desire to be liked and sometimes with anxiety, we feel unlikeable. Being considered to be socially acceptable holds great importance for us whether we are starting a new job or joining in a game of hide and seek in the playground. Speaking as a person with an anxiety disorder, I tend to meet a person for the first time with the overwhelmingly glum presumption that they will either instantly dislike me or, best case scenario, will inevitably grow to dislike me over time. With anxiety, I feel unlikeable.
Feeling Unlikable: Anxiety Plays Cruel Tricks
Sometimes my anxieties surrounding being liked can be so intense that my mind begins to play cruel tricks on me. I will imagine that I can, literally, feel a person’s dislike of me radiating from them like heat, leading me to feel faint with terror. I will make excuses to leave the conversation, convinced that I am doing them a favour.
This clearly is not a healthy way to maintain friendships and has repeatedly led me to push people away unnecessarily. All too often, I prefer to keep a distance from people, feeling as though it is far better to remove myself from social situations completely rather than be held painfully under dismissive scrutiny (What Is Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)?).
When I take a moment to step back, I can appreciate that my paranoia is, for the most part, unfounded. I am a fairly polite, inoffensive person. Like everyone, there are some people whose views more closely match my own, but on the whole, I am fairly easy going.
However, during the times when my anxiety kicks in, it can be incredibly difficult to think logically. Anxiety can be a viciously cruel critic. It can tell you that there is something dreadfully wrong with you. It can tell you that you don’t deserve friendship. It can keep you awake night after night tormenting you with repetitive, intrusive thought cycles where you become convinced that you are merely tolerated rather than truly cared for.
How To Combat Negative Thoughts About Feeling Unlikeable
There are, however, ways to silence anxiety’s incessant criticisms. The best way that I have found is to work on becoming a self-assured person who is confident of her worth. Try thinking of yourself as a separate person, just as you might with a close friend. Consider three things that you like about yourself and bear these in mind next time that you engage with others. Personally, I try and remember that I am a good listener, that I care about a number of issues and that, despite suffering from mental illness, I manage to hold down a full-time job (Be Less Anxious And Overwhelmed: Celebrate Accomplishments). These don’t have to be enormous, super impressive things. After all, you wouldn’t judge your best friend on how many marathons she has run or mountains she has climbed.
Often, it’s the deceptively little things that can give you that warm buzz of self-certainty and belonging. Little things that remind you to be kind to yourself and to remember that you deserve kindness from others. Becoming self-assured can, of course, be a lengthy process for anxiety sufferers; but it is not an impossible pursuit. Approach conversations with a positive attitude. I know that this is easier said than done. Try and remember that other people feel uncertainty. Other people worry about how they appear. Quite possibly, they are worrying about how they might appear to you.
Banim, J. (2016, March 23). Anxiety and Feeling Unlikeable: What Can You Do About It?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, July 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2016/03/anxiety-and-feeling-unlikeable
Author: Julia Banim
When bipolar came in, that entire life vanished. I had already lost so many friends with my previous antics. I had two that stuck with me. Every other one walked away. At first, I didn't mind so much because I was such a mess I never went out. Since I've become fairly stable, I do venture out on occasion, but only with those two friends.
Here's why I don't even try to make new friends anymore. Had a semi-good relationship with a mother of my son's buddy. We'd get together with the kids. I don't even remember how my bipolar thing came out, but it did. She seemed OK, asked a few questions. I felt good walking back home.
What really happened? She actually had "unfriended" me on FB right away, wouldn't my son play with hers anymore, and told some of the other moms about it. It's why I panic if I have to go to his school or sports. I don't talk to anyone there because I don't know who knows. And the worst? I've been so hurt by all of these incidents, I just can't try anymore. I figure, this has happened so many times so don't want to work on a new friendship knowing that eventually I'll be shunned. It's so lonely but I really can't do it. It HURTS. And why would I want any more of that in my life? Ugh.
I am working at reducing all of it. Happiness with family and friends are my main goals. As we age, what else matters?