“Habits change into character.” Ovid
I hate not liking people, but like my friend Betty said, “Some people are impossible to like because they don’t like themselves. The best you can do is love them, pray for them, and stay away from them.”
Nevertheless, I’ve felt guilty for detaching from unlikable friends, guilty for saying no to their invitations. I remembered my days of being unlikable. I hated being shunned and turned down. Instead of staying away from friends, I wanted to scream at them, “Change,” but I’m pretty sure they’d simply yell back, “Are you free Tuesday evening?”
“To change your life, change your habits.” Unknown
My unlikable friends seem oblivious, and even though Betty assured me the opposite is true, I’ve questioned if I’m the problem. Why do I struggle to find things I like about them? Why am I not eager to get together when they are? Why do I avoid them? Betty said, “They are unlikable and they’re unwilling to change. If anyone changes, they want it to be you, but they’re the ones who need to.”
The guilt resurfaced when a friend opposed a quote I posted online. Written by author and counselor Lucille Zimmerman, it’s a self-care tip that says, “Surround yourself with morally beautiful people. We become like those we hang around.”
My friend who disagreed implied I should hang out with all people, not just the morally beautiful. I defended myself, but then deleted it. I swapped trying to convince her I was okay in exchange for figuring it out for myself. I wanted a resolution to why I felt ashamed posting a quote that says it’s okay to hang out with people I like.
In fact, it’s not just okay. It’s a wise choice that is life-changing and character-building, so what’s up with the guilt?
Shame Said …
Who are you to pick and choose among friends?
How will this make your unlikable friends feel?
What sets you apart from them anyway?
I wondered what did set me apart. I’ve known there was a difference, at least I hoped so, but I’ve never identified it. It seemed that until I figured it out, I’d be stuck with unlikable friends or guilt or both.
God Spoke Too
I got my answer in an email I’ve been saving since 2014. In it, I’d sent myself a link to an article. I found it last night while cleaning out my inbox.
In the story “Toxic People Don’t Make Exceptions,” Brianna Wiest distinguishes between friends who are flawed and messy and friends who are difficult to be around.
Brianna says being unlikable (she calls them toxic) is a habit. Most of us admit to sometimes being offensive, but not daily and we’re remorseful afterwards. Unlikable people, however, are regularly offensive and without regret. It’s a habit they hardly notice. And like Ovid’s quote, the habit turns into their character.
If you’ve grappled like me with setting boundaries and letting go of unlikable friends, I hope Brianna’s article helps you also. None of us are 100 percent likable, but we can practice making it a habit and stay away from those who do the opposite. Our character depends on it, and so does having healthy relationships.
In This Together,