Why Don't People Like Me? Thought Patterns And Behaviors With Social Skills

Updated October 4, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

I Hate Feeling This Way - Why Don't People Like Me?

One potential reason for thinking that nobody likes you is an overgeneralization. Generalization is witnessing something a limited number of times and assuming that it is often the case. It's an important skill for learning faster and helping us to avoid dangerous situations. For example, if you had sushi once and then got sick, you might generalize that sushi makes you sick and avoid it. This prevents you from making the same mistakes repeatedly and it prevents your brain from needing to approach every sushi-related experience as though it is a new experience.

Overgeneralization is witnessing something a limited number of times and assuming that it is always the case. So, imagine eating sushi, getting sick, and assuming that the next time that you eat you will get sick again. This would obviously be unhelpful and very probably inaccurate.

Something similar can happen to people. If you know that one person doesn't like you, you may overgeneralize and assume that no one likes you, even though that's very probably not true. This could happen to anyone in extreme circumstances, like after a break-up. However, as mentioned above, some people have a stronger need to feel. These people may be quicker to overgeneralize, even if the person that doesn't like them is a more distant acquaintance or even a stranger.

The best way to counter this information is by trying to fight the urge to use overarching terms such as "awful," "massive," and "every." Instead, use quantifiable terms to truly examine the evidence. Use words that are more open such as "may," or "sometimes." These words allow you to consider possibilities that may be partially true without the consequences of assuming all-or-nothing relationships.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

Be mindful of absolute prophecies, such as "no one will ever like me" they may become self-fulfilling opinions and make you feel helpless. The Idea of the Self-fulfilling Prophecy" is the idea that if you believe something strongly enough, it will become true, not because the belief is true but because your actions on it change your actions and attitude. If you believe that no one likes you, you may stop spending time with people, or start pretending to be someone you're not - both of which can drive away people who never actually disliked you, making you feel invisible and humiliated when the worthless feeling you have came from your own self-sabotaging actions.

The Need to Be Liked - Where It Stems From

We've already mentioned a couple of times so far that humans are social creatures with a need to feel like from colleagues, acquaintances, family, and close friends. However, the difference is some of us feel that need more than others. If you feel the need to be loved by everybody, you may be more sensitive to those people that don't like you. If you think that this might be the case for you, the best thing to do is spend more time focusing on what you're up to and your accomplishments and not worrying so much about what everyone else is thinking about you. After all, it's fairly probable that the reality is that they don't think about you as much as you think that they do. And that's okay, there is no need for frustration in these situations as long as you respect yourself.

If It Comes From Yourself: Projection And Negative Thinking

Finally, you may dislike yourself. Do you remember how we talked about generalization as a sort of shortcut that your brain takes because it's easier and faster than constantly dealing with new and complex information? A similar method is called "projection."

"Projection" is when you feel a certain way and assume that other people around you feel that way too. It gives you a ballpark estimate of what someone else might be experiencing without needing to dive too deeply into their actual perception of what's going on. However, it's not usually accurate and, once again, your brain can take it too far to the point that it stops being a handy shortcut and starts being a dead-end road.

Disliking yourself, or something about yourself (such as your hair, your clothes,  how much money you make, feeling unattractive, ugly, stupid, having more fat than others, or other stuff) can be harmful and misleading in ways other than projection. A phenomenon similar to projection but not so severe is simple self-consciousness or sensitivity. This is when there is something that you don't like about yourself and you assume that it bothers everyone else too - even though they might not notice it or it might not bother them. Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, if we spend so much time and energy worrying about our imperfections, it's only going to make them more noticeable and give them more power, leaving us to feel ridiculed by ourselves. These can originate from traumas or situations that were never worked through in a healthy way.

What Can You Do To Help People Like You?

If you think that one or more of the last four sections in this article sound familiar and describes what you're going through in your own life, there are a couple of things that you can do to change the way that you see the world and your relationship with it.

One fairly basic place to start is with practicing mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a thought exercise in which you try to clear your mind to notice the thoughts that interrupt your practice, while focusing on your breath and rate of your heart. This gradually trains you to be more in tune with your thoughts and emotions so that you can deal with them in healthy and productive ways instead of letting them spiral out of control like they can in the cases of overgeneralization and projection. This can allow you to put yourself in your own shoes and understand why you think the things you do. 

If you feel like some of your problems are a combination of fooling yourself into feeling pathetic and actually not being liked, you may want to take a slightly more active approach, like journaling. In journaling, you write about events in your life and how they make you feel. This allows you to consciously reflect on different situations in your life and your responses to them. Another benefit is that sometimes things that seem very real to us in our minds can seem silly when we see them written out or hear them out loud. Finally, unlike meditation, journaling provides a written record that you can look back on and that you can use to plan for how to work through future events so you can accomplish your dreams without the company of these thoughts ruining an other aspect of your life.

I Hate Feeling This Way - Why Don't People Like Me?

A final method is balancing your thoughts. It's sort of like a combination of the mental exercise of mindfulness and the analytical prompt of journaling. Balancing your thoughts involves taking a thought that worries or alarms you and giving it a deeper look. It's about not just accepting these thoughts and feelings, but instead asking oneself whether they are realistic and whether we should acknowledge their company or write them off as fictional stories we are telling ourselves. When balancing your thoughts, it's good to write out a list that expresses the evidence for and against negative thinking patterns. Take time to acknowledge the important themes in the evidence for your negative thoughts. It is equally valuable, to sum up, the learning points in the evidence against such thoughts.

Finding Help

Sometimes, the methods and tips above for addressing your concerns may not be enough or may not make you feel better. Some people need a little help in dealing with their fears and concerns, rather than trying to address their needs on their own. One option for finding help is through online therapy. In online therapy, like that offered through BetterHelp, you meet with a licensed counselor or therapist over your internet connection. You may schedule voice or video calls, or even just chat with them, like texting a friend. This method is easier and more affordable than in-person therapy or counseling. Below you can read some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people who have been helped with similar issues.

Counselor Reviews

"Lee Blouin is there for me and I truly feel confident with his ability to help me understand my concerns. He has already given me helpful advice and ways to practice coping with the issues in my life. I believe that Lee really listens and has a desire to help. I find it very helpful every time we converse about anything that I am struggling with and I look forward to continuing working with him."

"Charles is an awesome counselor. He makes the hard topics easy to talk about and helps me understand why I feel the way that I do... In the midst of a storm, it's very helpful to have the guidance of someone who has a clear unobstructed view of what's going on so I can make the best choices for myself. Charles's guidance makes it possible for me to begin doing this...I'm tremendously grateful for his help."

Moving Forward

When you feel like no one likes you, the important thing is to leave people opportunities to like you. It's a problem that you can't solve by isolating yourself. No matter what you're experiencing, with the right tools, you can find fulfilling relationships. Take the first step today.

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