That may sound ‘like duh!’ to you, but to me it was a huge revelation. I really believed that if I told people what I really thought, they would break up with me. I really believed that if people really knew me, they wouldn’t like me. I really believed that if you actually verbally fought with someone, that meant it was the end of the relationship.
I had spent my whole life (the first 20 years) trying really hard to not inconvenience anyone. I some how adopted the idea to always put others’ needs ahead of my own. I had it figured that if I was nice all of the time, there would be no reason to not like me. Because having someone not like you was sure to cause death.
The very first time I actually lost my temper enough to voice my contrary opinion was to my steady boyfriend (who’s now my husband). Up until that point, I had never outwardly disagreed with him. Of course we had argued but I had always come to see his side of things, or to not press any of my points. I can’t actually remember now what got me so angry, but I was angry enough to accept that this was the end of our relationship. If this was the way he was going to be, well then I was out. (Maybe the first time ever I took my own side.) I left in a huff, certain I would never see him again. I was beyond shocked when he called the next day and he apologized. It was the absolute last thing I expected. I think I tried to talk him out of it, to make him see that because we disagreed that meant we couldn’t be together. After he finished laughing, he very patiently explained to me that we could in fact take opposite sides of issues and still get along with one another. It was such a big deal for me. Dawning crashed down and changed forever how I saw the world of relationships. I wept.
Since then I have learned that the fear of being ostracized is wired into our brains for survival. In the caveman days, if you were cast out of the group, you were literally wolf food, it absolutely meant you were facing death. That wiring kicks in for all of us at any hint of disapproval, so that explains why we (some of us anyway) are addicts for approval, we actually feel we will die if we are not liked. I have also learned that now that we are relatively free from wolves, bears, lions, etc. here in our concrete jungles that when we actually have the courage to totally represent our true selves that we experience more acceptance, more approval. The more I am comfortable with who I am, the more I can be comfortable with who you are and the more approval grows!
My husband and I have been happily disagreeing ever since. A lot of people don’t like me and I’m ok with that, I just hang with the one or two that do.