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This is one of a series of articles in Lesson 4 - optimize your relationships. These articles build on Lessons 1 - 3, and prepare
you for Lesson 5 (evolve a nourishing family) and Lesson 6 (learn
to practice effective parenting).
explores a powerful relationship factor - people "liking" or "disliking"
each other and themselves. This factor can be a major source of
satisfaction or stress, depending on (a) how aware people are of themselves
and each other, and (b) what they expect.
This brief YouTube video provides perspective on what you'll find here. The
video mentions eight self-improvement lessons in this self-improvement Web
site - I've reduced that to seven.
requisites for a mutually-satisfying
Perspective: Needing > Liking > Loving
Premises - "Comfort" is a measure of how well our current physical +
psychological + spiritual needs are met now. A relationship
exists when the existence, values, and/or behaviors of one person
significantly affects the comfort of another person. "Significantly" is
subjective. Do you agree?
The quality of any relationship is a mix of neediness and enjoyment - e.g.
"I need my doctor, but I don't like her." Acquaintances
don't need each other, but enjoy some contact (or don't). Friends and lovers
are people we usually need and enjoy each other. Kids need parents to
survive, and may fear and/or dislike them.
is the highest form of "liking" someone.
Reflect - who taught you your definition of a "good' or "nice"
(likeable) person? Your relatives? Teachers? Your friends and hero/ines? The media?
Scriptures? Personal experience? All of these? All of us acquire criteria
that become semi-conscious in judging whom we respect, admire, and like - including ourselves.
Think of someone you "really like." Now think of an adult or child who you
feel is "obnoxious" (unlikable). What criteria are you using to make those
judgments? Are they a mix of learned traits (e.g. "honest people are good,
and liars are bad.") + direct experience? Have you ever experienced the
paradox of dis/liking a person and feeling you "shouldn't"?
Premise - disliking someone usually means "I disapprove of
this person's attitudes, behaviors, values, traits, and/or appearance." This implies
that you can dislike one aspect of a person, and still approve of (like)
them as an individual. When you dislike too many traits, you dislike the
Dislike ("bad chemistry") usually describes a mix of unpleasant
feelings (reactions) like distrust, disrespect, disapproval, and perhaps hurt, disgust,
annoyance, resentment, anxiety,
frustration, and/or anger. If you accept this idea,
then seeking ways to cope with someone's
dislike transforms into seeking ways to reduce each of these
Notice the difference between "I don't like you" and "I disrespect and/or
Picture all the adults and kids who significantly affect your life now
assembled in a group. Look at each person, and decide whether you like them,
dislike them, or are indifferent to them. Now reverse this - who likes you,
dislikes you, or doesn't care about you?
Who Do I Dislike?
Your response might be something like "obnoxious adults and kids." Think of
anyone you know who you feel is "obnoxious." What is it about them that
merits that label? Sometimes it's a trait or behavior of theirs that
violates your definition of...
"a good person" or...
"how I want to be treated by other people /
men / women / children."
Sometimes dislike springs from
an unconscious association with an obnoxious person - "Luis reminds me of my
uncle, who was a real crude, bigoted, aggressive egotist."
How about self-dislike? Do you have any traits or compulsive habits
you feel are obnoxious? Sometimes those only appear in special situations or
relationships ("I don't like who I turn into when I'm around my parents.")
We can dislike another person because they confront us with some unpleasant
qualities about ourselves which we don't want to admit.
What Do I Dislike?
List the attitudes, behaviors, and personal traits you specially dislike
in yourself and/or other people. Then reflect - with each trait, how do you
feel when another person exhibits it around you?
Often, we don't dislike an obnoxious person so
much as we dislike the feelings we have around them -
like irritation, outrage, hurt, anger, frustration, scorn, disgust,
confusion, anxiety, fear, impatience, and/or dread. When you identify which of these
causing your dislike, the next question is...
Causes My Dislike?
Is your answer "Obnoxious kids and adults"? I propose that
our dynamic range of feelings and thoughts are caused by one or more
Here, they may include the
Inner Critic, the Judge/Bigot, Perfectionist, Idealist, Moralizer/Preacher, and one or
Inner Kids. If this is true, it has important implications for
understanding and managing your dislikes.
What's the Opposite of Dislike?
The obvious answer is "liking" myself or another person. What that really
means is "I feel good things when I'm around me / her / him." So the answer
to this question becomes "Feeling safe, respected, understood,
accepted, appreciated, stimulated, cared for, (i.e. "loved").
Is there a 'Best Way' to Respond to Dislike?
This question really asks "How can I preserve my
and self-respect if I dislike another person and/or they dislike me?"
Some options are...
"I can try to avoid this person
and/or limit contact with them, and avoid confronting them." This
strategy usually compounds relationship problems, and can promote
in your family system. It may indicate you're dominated by false selves.
"When I can't avoid this person, I can
try to react to them with respect, tact, and honesty." This is a
true-Self response; Or...
"I can research whether my dislike is really
about things I (some of my subselves) dislike aboutme; and if
so, I can use
to improve this;" and...
"I can use the dislike as motivation to
both of us for psychological wounds, and take appropriate action." (Lesson
"I can notice the communication
between me and the other person, and choose to
improve my half of it for both our
"If someone dislikes me, I can (a) act
indifferent or defensively, or (b) ask them for honest feedback and see
if I'm willing to change something about myself without ambivalence
and/or resentment." and...
"If other people dislike each
other, I can...
detach, be passive, and do nothing; or...
support one over the other
in/directly; or I can...
notice how their dislike affects me, and use
to inform them of that, and what I need from them; or...
I can show them this article and encourage
them to discuss it as teammates."
Can you think of other ways to
react to significant dislike among other people? How did you see
adults in your childhood family handle interpersonal or self dislikes? Do
you think their strategies strengthened or burdened your family
relationships and harmony? How are the young people in your life learning to
handle social and self dislikes?
Let's look at some of these strategies in more depth...
Most people have habits (behaviors) and personality traits that annoy them and other people. The extreme case is "self hatred."
forgetting important dates
not staying focused
misplacing important things
See any favorites? If you've ever tried to "break habits" like these and failed, it's probably
because you didn't learn which of your subselves was causing them, and
negotiate respectfully for change. You also probably have been unaware of
the important difference between behavioral changes and
core attitude changes.
This brief YouTube video on breaking bad habits previews what you're about to read:
Here's the outline of a
''parts work'' (Lesson-1) strategy to permanently shift an irritating habit or
attitude into at least acceptance, Let's use "chronic lateness" as an
roster of your active subselves and
scan it for likely candidates for "lateness." Commonly, this "bad habit"
can be caused by a Saboteur, a Rebel, a Magician an Achieve-Driver, an
Impatient One, and one or more Inner Kids.
Let all your subselves know you'd like to
learn who is causing your chronic lateness. This is not about blame,
it's about discovery and improvement.
Identify the specific benefits of improving
your promptness with other people, and vividly imaging what they would
each likely subself alone in a safe, undistracted inner place. Introduce
your Self (the interviewer), and summarize what you seek. If you haven't "talked" with
subself before, take time to build some initial trust and
Ask questions like these, and notice any
thoughts, feelings, and/or images with an open mind
"What's your job? What do you do each day
"Do you know who I (your Self) am and
what I do?" If not, explain those;
"Can you tell me what year it is?" (Some
Inner Children and Guardian subselves are unaware they live in the past)
Ask how s/he feels about (a) committing
to being on time, and (b) being late so often. Avoid arguing or
lecturing - just listen. That doesn't mean you agree;
Ask what might happen if you were able
to be more punctual. Don't try to reason, explain, or reassure -
Ask if the subself knows who (which
subselves) make you late all the time.
Ask anything else you feel is relevant.
Once you've identified which subselves are
causing your tardiness, interview them again.
Ask if they trust you and your other
Manager subselves' judgment to keep you safe. Expect "No." Make
establishing that trust your first priority.
If a subself is living in the past,
invite it to come live with the rest of your inner family
present. Often this will allow the subself to adopt a new attitude about
tardiness and other things.
Pay special attention to your well-intentioned Saboteur. S/He may
fear (irrationally) that if you were on time too often, something awful would
happen. Ask if s/he would be willing to let you be on time several
times to see what the outcome would be. If that activates your Pessimist/Skepticand Worriersubselves, ask them to try trusting your Self's competence and see
Your Rebel(often a teen)
may be contributing because s/he doesn't like other people telling him/her
what to do ("I'll get there when I'm ready to"). Explain the
difference between cooperating and submitting to someone, and that
being late activates your Guilty and Shamed Inner
Your Magician (reality-distorter)
may be convincing other subselves that being late is no big deal,
and that other people are too uptight about promptness. Usually this
earnest subself is devoted to guarding one or more Inner Kids from
shame, guilt, and anxiety.
Achiever / Driver subself may
contribute because s/he's constantly pushing to "get things done,"
and the Perfectionist insists they be done perfectly. They
oppose interrupting the daily activity list to go somewhere or do
something else before you're "done" with the task at hand. - and there
are always more urgent tasks!
Avoid blaming or criticizing any subself. Appeal to each of them to be a
team player, and to trust your Self and other Managers to keep you all safe
enough. Also avoid relying on logic to "convince" subselves that being on
time is really beneficial. They have to experience the benefits to
want to change their attitude and priorities, so
focus patiently on getting
them to try punctuality to see what it feels like.
Be alert for subselves resisting change because they fear doing so will "put
me out of a job" or "make me worthless." Where appropriate, explain the
option of choosing a new
inner-family role, and discuss the pros and cons with all subselves.
A version of this inner-family strategy can also help...
If You Dislike Another Person...
Remind yourself of the important difference between disliking a behavior or
trait, and disliking the whole person. They merit two different strategies.
If You Dislike Behaviors
skills (Lesson 2) to get clear on what the irritant is, specifically (i.e. identify what
If it's a behavior, (e.g. talking loudly and
interrupting often), get clear on what changes you want the other person
to (want to) make, and why;
Review these universal human
rights and acknowledge that they apply to you
other person equally - specially if s/he is a child. If
you don't agree, suspect that a false self is controlling you. If so,
you have a bigger problem than "dislike."
attitude: if you feel your and the other person's needs and values are
equally important, go ahead. If not, use parts work to identify which
subselves oppose this "=/=" attitude, why, and what to do about that.
A common causes of
"dislike" is one or both people feeling disrespected by the other.
If that applies to your situation,
see thisfor perspective and options after you're done
If the other person is a child, use
this to clarify what s/he needs, and adjust your
vocabulary and expectations to her or his age level. For perspective and options, see this
article on effective child discipline.
Option - review your expectations of
this person (a) in general and (b) in their family
expectations may be contributing to your dislike. Option -
validate your role-expectations with a neutral person you trust.
Option - use the subself-interview technique
above to learn (a) which subselves dislike the other person's trait or
behavior, and (b) why.
Option - compose and assert a
'I-message' - ideally, when the your and the other person's true Selves are
guiding you each. That might sound like...
you keep interrupting me (or whatever), I feel irritated, frustrated,
and disrespected (or whatever) - and I need you to let me finish my
point (or whatever)."
(explaining, whining, resentment, defensiveness, etc), and use
to validate (vs. agree with) it. Then re-assert firmly and clearly as
often as you need until you feel genuinely heard.
Option - define and
respectfully assert a specific consequence if the other person doesn't
change their behavior "enough," or promises to and doesn't.
If the irritant is a personality or physical
trait, (like an inability to focus, or an unpleasant voice tone
or laugh), accept
that the other person can't control that. Offer respectful
feedback as appropriate, and use these
If You Dislike
Feeling "total dislike," disgust, or "hatred" for
usually a sign that a false self controls you,
and those subselves dislike many traits and behaviors -
some of which may remind you of your least favorite (repressed?)
qualities. The other person is probably ruled by a false self too.
Your dominant subselves may also be very uncomfortable with a group
of people who behave in an offensive way.
Verify your acceptance of the idea of normal personality subselves,
true Self, and false selves. If you're ambivalent or skeptical about
this concept, read this letter to you, and
then try this safe, interesting experience.
If you're still skeptical, suspect that a well-meaning
controls you, and lower your expectations about getting anything useful
from this Web site for now.
yourself and each disliked family member for significant psychological wounds via lesson 1. If you find symptoms, focus on reducing your wounds first
with a version of
When your true Self is clearly
your other subselves, try to identify the specific things you dislike
about the person or coalition. Then patiently use the subself-technique
above to negotiate a more compassionate attitude for each separate
dislike. If appropriate, use these options for improving
If the other person is a child, assess how
effective disciplinary rules and consequences have been implemented in
their home. An obnoxious child often has had ineffective or toxic
childcare.- i.e. seriously
wounded, unaware parents. That's not the child's fault! Don't let compassion dilute
your right to set clear behavioral limits and consequences in your home.
Also - be alert for these three common relationship
stressors contributing to your dislike.
Options If Someone Dislikes You
Your basic options are to...
deny, rationalize, or minimize their dislike
passively accept it ("Ah, no big deal."),
return it (lose-lose), or...
constructive about it within local limits. Constructive
means "try to shift the person's
dislike toward compassion and mutual respect, without losing your
integrity or self-respect." How can you encourage this shift?
assessing both of you for
psychological wounds. If you find symptoms, focus on
reducing your wounds first. If the "disliking"
child is significantly wounded, see this for options
after you finish this.
If the other person's dislike is implied rather than overt, consider
asking her or him directly if you're doing something offensive or
frustrating. If false selves rule them, be prepared for a double message
(words = "No," and behavior = "Yes").
Get interested in the communication
process between you two.
interest to the
R(espect) messages you each usually receive from the other. If the other person
interprets your behaviors as "I'm 1-up (superior)," s/he will predictably
dislike that, vs. you.Putting your true
Self in charge
of your personality will usually shift 1-up attitudes toward genuine respect.
Decide whether there's any benefit in distinguishing
this person's dislike. If so, follow the links for perspective and
Avoid getting into lose-lose blame <> counterblame exchanges, or defensive
justifications of your "obnoxious" behavior and attitudes. Dislikes rarely
shrink because of "logic" or "facts."
Reflect on whether any of these
stressors is contributing to the other person's dislike. If so, select
among the options in that and related articles and proactively seek
the other person can't clearly tell you what they dislike,
dig down to learn what specific needs they have of you that aren't being met. Then
problem-solving to satisfy them within local limits. If you discover s/he dislikes traits
about you that you can't (vs. won't) change, use these wise
Reflect on the effect this person's
dislike (and your response) has on your other relationships. If some family
members, co-workers, or friends significantly dislike each other, how does
that affect all of you?
The overarching focus is how to help everyone maintain self-respect
and high-nurturance relationships.
Back away from these options, breathe, and notice your thoughts and
feelings. Did you realize how many options you have? See these options
as guidelines, not rigid absolutes!
This article offers perspective on the universal human dynamic of
interpersonal and self dislike.It suggests that "disliking
someone" is really about disliking the unpleasant feelings that arise from the
other person's actions or traits. Often "I dislike ____" really means "One
or more of my personality subselves dislikes _____." Respectful intervention
with such subselves can often reduce dislike, or convert it to acceptance
The article proposes ways to...
shift self-dislike toward compassion
and self-respect, using "parts work;"
react to disliking someone's
behaviors or traits,
react if you dislike the whole adult or
child ("bad chemistry", and...
options for responding if another
person dislikes you.
your perspective: your overall goals are to (a) maintain your
serenity, (b) improve what you can, and accept what you can't without
blame; and (c) enhance your relationships' nurturance-level over time.