As we navigate through incredibly divisive times, many of us begin to wonder where, when, and how far we should compromise. Strained friendships and family ties usually work to pressure us into giving up on our stances and our beliefs…
…but, is being liked really worth it?
No, it isn’t. But that’s easier said than done, so bear with me.
The Very Human Need To Be Liked
Let’s start with the basics. It doesn’t feel good. It doesn’t feel good to argue with the people we love or to feel like we’ve disappointed them. At the end of the day, even if we don’t realize it, we’re always searching for feedback and approval from the people we look up to, in order to guide us in life as we try to figure out this world. Ain’t that the truth?
I, for example, know I’m happy when my mom is happy and proud of me. I try to do things in life that would make my family and friends proud. And that’s okay. It’s part of this overwhelming human need of wanting others to feel good around us. Maybe it’s an evolutionary tool that allowed us to build societies. We seek positive interactions with our communities.
"It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends." – Dumbledore
Nowadays, however, unless you agree with someone 100%, which let’s be honest, it doesn’t happen, you’ll likely find yourself in the middle of an argument with someone you love, and depending on their psychological maturity to hold such discussions, you just may end up in the market looking for a new friend.
And that can be scary. It can be scary because these may be friends we grew up with. Cousins, siblings, our parents even. What would we do without them? Where will we spend Christmas? How else would we be allowed to see our little nieces or nephews? Are we willing to jeopardize all the past memories we had with them because of this one thing?
…Aaand that’s when we “compromise.”
The Wrong Kind of Compromise
Let’s talk about this compromise for a moment. First, it doesn’t come from the heart. You don’t mean it, you just want to avoid an argument. Second, it’s damaging to your soul because you’re betraying what you believe in. Third, your relationship with that person will always have this weird dynamic from now on. On your side, there will be resentment. On their side, the impression they can emotionally control you and get you to agree to anything.
Suddenly, you find yourself being pushed into a corner of fake smiles and fake interactions only in order to be liked. Or to avoid being hated.
Now tell me, does that feel right?
Everyone Is Responsible for Their Own Choices and Emotions
In the words of Winston Churchill, “You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
The important thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to be responsible for turning anyone into an enemy. Leave that decision to the person you’re interacting with, and let their true character shine through how they handle the fact that you have the right to an opinion.
You’re not the one making an enemy. They are. Leave the responsibility for any negativity to them, and rest on the fact that you simply stated a different position than theirs. You respect their right to have a voice, and if they don’t respect yours, then it’s a fault in their character that you can’t cure.
“You have enemies? Good. That means you stood up for something, sometime in your life.” – Winston Churchill
You can’t fix someone who’s unwilling to see that they’re the problem, and you can’t take responsibility for the fall of that relationship either.
I always try to patch things up after a disagreement by saying, “I understand we see this issue from different perspectives. But I respect you as a person and respect your right to have opinions. I hope you’ll respect mine too.” If they react to that by screaming even louder, I remove myself from the situation with a clean conscience.
Get Comfortable with Disagreement and Rejection
You can’t save everyone. Sometimes people’s beliefs are rooted in psychological reasons. Sometimes it has been brainwashed into them for years by people they trusted. Sometimes, well… it just takes time. Every person is different, and the solution here is never to try to agree on everything. It’s to be comfortable with the idea of disagreements.
The process of becoming comfortable with losing “friends” is one that takes many years. We basically need to rewire our brains to be okay with confrontation. The key is not to take it personally and to have a clean conscience.
"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented." – Elie Wiesel
You don’t take it personally because you’re doing all you could to respect that person’s right to an opinion. You did the right thing. If things still went south, it’s not your fault, and it’s something the other person will have to deal with on their own, on a deeper, individual level. They need to see the problem in themselves and be willing to fix it. If they ask for help, help them. Otherwise, sticking around someone who’s angry and broken and lashing out will only damage your mental health.
And you’ll have a clean conscience by knowing that you stood up for what you believed in. That you stood up for what’s right, morally, to the best of your ability.
By being silent and refusing to have an opinion, you become the victim in a narcissistic cycle which will not help anyone and will only lead to destruction. No relationship can be formed and upheld by lying and stepping on eggshells.
What Being True To Yourself Really Means
The freedom that comes with being true to yourself, having an honest and clean conscience, being able to sleep at night, and having an empowered, loud, and educated voice is nothing short of a thrill.
Many people believe that being true to themselves has something to do with changing their appearance, but that’s a cop-out because it doesn’t take much effort and it doesn’t address the root of the issue. If what you want is to be true to yourself, start by being proud of who you are and what you believe, regardless of who has something to say about it.
Speak the truth even if your voice shakes.
I have many friends who tell me they’re stranded from their families and friends, or are afraid to be. Therefore, they avoid speaking the truth.
I tell them to speak the truth even if their voice shakes.
When you begin to stand up for yourself, people might be taken aback. They might be shocked and need time to adapt. But don’t back down in fear of looking like the bad guy. Stand your ground. Tell them, “Listen, I love you, but this is my opinion/who I am. And if you love me, you will respect that and stop trying to change me on this issue.”
I have a Latina, overzealous, and opinionated mom. If I could get her to respect my stances, then I think you have a shot at doing it too.
You’ll never lose a friend for being who you are. Those you lose were never true friends. They were mainly spectators of your life, waiting for you to fall so they could kick you when you’re down.
Search for meaningful and positive interactions with people. Know what healthy relationships and friendships are supposed to look like. And once you do, accept nothing less.
Whatever you do, remember "Your silence gives consent" (Plato). Never be silent.
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