Years ago, a family member had to deal with a work colleague who utterly despised her to the point this colleague couldn’t conceal their disdain.
Exasperated, my family member called the prayer line of a televangelist and pleaded, “Please pray with me to have God to change this coworker’s heart so they like me. I’m friends with everybody. There’s no reason they hate me so much.”
The lady on the other end of the phone was quiet for a moment. When she finally spoke, she asked, “Who told you that everybody was going to like you? You weren’t promised that. In this world, there are going to be people who hate you for one reason or another, perhaps even without justification. As long as you’ve examined yourself and are sure it’s not something you’re doing wrong, if you’ll let me, I’d instead like to pray with you that God helps you find peace with the situation so it doesn’t steal your joy and you can move on to more edifying things.”
If others’ disapproval tends to nurture your self-dissatisfactions, question it. If you’ve made a mistake, try to right the wrong. Learn from it, pardon yourself, and move ahead.
If your quest for others’ approval is rooted in insecurity, remind yourself that your contentment in life cannot spring from other people’s perceptions of you; it has to come from an inner scorecard. Warren Buffett famously said, “The big question about how people behave is whether they’ve got an Inner Scorecard or an Outer Scorecard. It helps if you can be satisfied with an Inner Scorecard.”
Striving to live your life to satisfy others always is an impossible aspiration. You’ll wind up losing your sense of individuality in the quest to conform to others’ expectations. “It is our very search for perfection outside ourselves that causes our suffering,” warned the Buddha.