Friday, December 21, 2018

Why Do We NEED To Be Liked?

In the Carlos Castaneda group I admin on Facebook, the question was asked, "Why are humans addicted to being liked?"

Good question. Simple answer: Fear - the first enemy of the warrior. Most humans fear they aren't good enough, smart enough, sexy enough and so they start performing like monkeys at the circus in the desperate need to be liked. That need is one of the most insidious attachments known to Man. Fortunately, warriors rather quickly learn that being liked creates a codependency between oneself and the world at large. In order to be liked, you have to be a certain way. You have to be agreeable, tell people what they want to hear, stroke their ego by telling them they're right even when they are dead-bang wrong. and smile even if your lips crack and bleed. The list is long. And the cost of membership in the I'm Likable Club is far too high for anyone pursuing a genuine path of spiritual evolution.

When you stop trying to be likable and become authentic, you'll find your circle of "friends" diminishes accordingly (unless they are also authentic - which perhaps one person in ten thousand might be if you hit it on a good day ). One of those ugly truths no one wants to believe, but which is impossible to deny if you really look at your life through honest eyes.

I used to have a large circle of friends and acquaintances. Everybody said they liked me. That is... right up until the time when I lost the need to be liked, opened my eyes as a seer, and realized that being liked is directly dependent on being a liar, a joker and an ego-stroker, and what can start to resemble a spineless yes-man suckling at the teat of emotional neediness to such an extent that you  forget who you are (if you ever knew) and become a mirror reflecting the needs and wants of all those "friends" who probably don't really know much about you at all. What's your last name? Where did you grow up? Are your parents living or dead? Do you have a dog, or even a pet goldfish? Are you married? Straight? Gay? An alien from Proxima Centauri?

Put simply - they don't know you, yet they demand that you should know them, and to that end they will inundate you with their tales of power and glory, none of which have anything to really do with who they are despite what they might think. You are simply the sounding board against which they sing themselves into being, and the song is both long and tedious, for it is all too often a series of unrelated events linked together only by the memories of the one doing the telling. And let's face it - memories can be iffy at best, and storytellers can be accomplished bullshit artists when it suits the obsessively demanding needs of their inflated self-importance.

If that's what you want to be, what you want to do with your life, then smile and nod and stroke the spiny ego of the other monkeys and you'll probably sleep like a baby at night - and also at work and in the shower and in everything else you do, for the rest of your life. Most people do go through life asleep and unaware. It's how we're programmed, after all. Be polite. Be attentive. Always smile. Act like a lady (whatever that means). Be good. Think only positive thoughts. Keep your chin up even when the chips are down. And all the other meaningless platitudes shoved down our throats and up our rear entry from the moment we are born, and long before even that. Again, nothing necessarily wrong with those things if they are what floats your boat on the dark sea of the desperate need to be liked. But there's more to life, and once you realize it, it's going to cost you that warm and pleasant cocoon that tends to form around those who are liked so much by so many.

Okay, that's the gist of it. Fear makes monkeys of us all. Now here's an anecdote to illustrate why clarity plays a huge role in shattering those comfort zones and dragging the seeker out of her sheltering matrix and into the real world (usually kicking and screaming all the way).

As many of you know, I used to be deeply involved in the Star Trek community. My first professional book was a Trek novel, and I was active in the underground press in that genre for over 20 years. It was a very deep love of mine because when I was a young and environmentally isolated girl of 11-years old, it was my teacher in many ways. It taught me how to recognize my prejudices against things and people I didn't understand, and to eliminate those prejudices through logic, kindness and, yes, love. It taught me how to be a decent human being even though I had grown up with an abusive father and a religious upbringing that could have warped even the most rational mind if not for the introduction of logic and common sense prevalent in Star Trek. It taught me how to speak properly and to lose the hillbilly drawl that was common to the neck of the dark woods in which I had been raised. The list here is also long.

Ultimately... Star Trek brought me together with people who became my friends. I formed friendships that seemed genuine and real at the time (and most of them actually were - at the time). But with that said... it also has to be noted in this discussion about the need to be liked, that this group of "friends" vanished abruptly when I stopped writing the novels and short stories that were the foundation of that underground community. Not surprising. I don't even blame them for not really "liking" me anymore. But it did open my eyes to the fact that most people who like you do so because you are of service to them in one way or another. You feed them, and when you no longer do that - for whatever reason - most of them just quietly drift away; some become angry or outright hostile; others try to hang on in weird ways that usually rely on trying to change you in some fashion.

It was when my involvement in the Star Trek community was beginning to give way to other interests that three of my former friends (actually more like acquaintances) asked to come up to my house for a visit. I was a bit surprised at the timing, but agreed. When they arrived, it quickly became clear that they had created an agenda which they hoped would bring me back into the writing community. I was properly praised, my ego dutifully stroked, and then came the anvil. "But it would be so much easier if you would smile more." Followed by, "And take more of an interest in Suzy Cue's writing because she's currently the most popular." And topped off with, "We all love you, but..."


There's always a "but," isn't there?

It was that "but" which really opened my eyes to the fact that being liked really does mean being what everyone else wants you to be, with no regard whatsoever for who you are. In reality, I find it annoying to walk around with a stupid grin on my face for no reason whatsoever. If you want me to smile, do something funny. Say something nice. Oh - wait a minute! That would be me asking you to live up to my expectations, so scratch that. Hmmm. Another reality was that Suzy Cue's writing was some of the most atrocious drivel ever to fall forth from a rickety keyboard onto a 5 1/4" floppy drive where - hopefully - it has all been deteriorated into oblivion through entropy and improved technology. Oh - but wait another minute! That would be me putting my judgment on Suzy Cue and asking her to be better than perhaps she can be, so scratch that as well. Sorry, Suzy Cue. Pay no attention to that bitch behind the curtain. But then... (But... but... but...)  "We all love you..."

No. You really don't. You don't know me. It's not that I'm hard to get to know. It's that you didn't ask. And I'm perfectly okay with that. Because - truth be told - there was no reason to ask beyond polite social niceties. You liked me because I provided you with what you wanted, and I liked you because you made me feel  liked and appreciated... and there was nothing necessarily wrong with any of that, except that it was no more real than a unicorn or a virgin. It was simply a mutual addiction - and once recognized as such, it gave me the awareness to walk away from a segment of my life that had served its purpose, and start a new adventure. I took what I had learned and loved from those days and brought it forward, giving it the power and the permission to evolve, grow, and transcend. The core of what I had truly loved (Star Trek itself) remains a very real part of my original foundation. But the need to be liked within the community became a distant thing of a distant past.

Getting past the attachment to being liked is one of the most crucial steps toward freedom. At a certain point, Orlando (my mentor/double) threw me out of the cosmic classroom and told me to go forth and slam my ideas, conclusions and Knowledge up against the sharpest minds in the field to see if what I had learned would hold up under intense scrutiny, disagreement and even outright anger and hatred at times. It was a brutal process, but entirely necessary as a means of assimilation - putting together the pieces of what I had learned into a workable system of knowledge.

The hardest part in the beginning was getting past the need to be liked. What I discovered during that brutal process of assimilation falls in line with an old adage: "A speaker of truth has no friends." But beyond even that, a speaker of truth has no need to be liked.

If you are at a point in your journey where you are ready to slam your ideas, conclusions and Knowledge up against others, go for it. Just be prepared for the fact that not everyone is going to agree with you and - if they are truly your friend - they will yank any false beliefs or false foundations right out from under you... not because they are mean, but because moving forward on a foundation of false conclusions only means that foundation will fail somewhere along the way. Better sooner than later.

With that said... if you are going to approach your personal assimilation as I've described, the first thing you have to do is to get beyond the need to be liked or even accepted. Mikal Nyght says, "This road will not make you any friends. It won't make anyone love you. It might get you killed." There are multiple reasons for this, not the least of which is that you become a threat to the status quo. People don't like that. They need to be liked, remember?

Test your ideas and conclusions. But be willing to remain open to modification of your existing belief systems. Just because something seems on the surface to be true doesn't necessarily mean it is. And don't expect anyone to like you along the way. Love yourself. The rest takes care of itself.


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