I remember the first teacher who obviously really didn’t like me. I couldn’t get my head around it. I’d been brought up to be a ‘good’ girl and I quickly learnt the power of ‘nice’. So when this teacher wasn’t enamoured with my niceness I was lost. I was 17 and totally bewildered. I wish I could say i’ve outgrown this need to be liked but approval addiction is a hard one to kick.
So this is my sacred scared. I like to be liked. Ok thats not the full picture sometimes the need to be liked keeps me awake at night and causes me anxiety during the day. I read into tone, body language and when it’s really bad replay the words or lack of over and over in my head. If you seem undecided about me I will seek your approval to help you decide, if I don’t get your affirmation then i’ll turn up the niceness dial and keep trying and trying to make you like me. I hate this about myself, and considering the job I do its a battle, but it’s also a cure. One thing I’m convinced of after 10 years in leadership is that I cannot lead effectively or with diligence if my desire is to be liked and the times when I’ve lead from conviction and from calling those have been the transformational times, the times when it’s mattered even when they were the times when I was least liked.
The ironic and amazing thing is I know that I’m loved by Father God, I always have. I never doubt his unerring love for me. EVER. His love has been a constant thread and firm road that I’ve tread all through my life. I know that I’m loved and adored by my parents – again I’ve never doubted this. But I think it’s the niceness-lie that has deceived me. The lie that says as long as you’re nice, say nice things, act nicely that equals ‘like’. And when that equation doesn’t add up I can’t understand it. It’s like I go through life trying to accumulate stamps of approval and then when I have them work hard not to loose them. What is wrong with with me?
Now I’m thinking I should have chosen a lesser insecurity (I have a list) that didn’t make me feel naked talking about it. This shouldn’t be this difficult at 41!!! I’ve struggled with this all day to day, I almost pulled out altogether.
So I’m coming out. I’m confronting the lie that ‘nice=like’ and I’m promising to try harder, to pull back from the approval seeking, to be more true to who I am. To accept that it’s ok if people don’t like me. My word I don’t expect to like everyone I meet so why should I expect everyone who meets me to like me. I don’t need constant approval from those who do like me to prove that they still do. I need to lean into the truth that I already have all I need – a firm assurance that I am daughter of the King and His beloved. To trust the love of my family and friends and not need their affirmation to confirm it.
I’ve dabbled with life without the flawed niceness equation, maybe it’s time to scrap it altogether. To approve and love myself just as I am approved and loved by my Jesus. Its time to lean into a life lived from conviction and calling everyday that doesn’t have room for ‘niceness’ and approval seeking.
This bare faced picture was so much easier to post than the content above.