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Danita and Michel Aziza

Danita Aziza: Lesson #30 - Not Everybody Needs to Like You

by Danita Aziza, June 3, 2011

I come from a lineage of pleasers.  A “pleaser” is someone who is always expending a great deal of energy attempting to please others, oftentimes, at the expense of pleasing themselves.

My Mom recants a tale of my Granny, may she rest in peace, who went completely off the scale when it came to pleasing others.  My Granny, it is said, would throw a dinner party for a group of friends one week only to give a repeat performance the week following for those she didn’t invite to the first party.  Granny was always overly concerned with not wanting to hurt anybody’s feelings and always doing the “right thing”.  I don’t remember a lot about my Granny, but I do recall her always remarking that she was a bit fatigued which was quite understandable given the fact that pleasing can be downright exhausting.

That pleasing gene, that can so easily translate into a need for everyone to like you, has definitely been passed down through the generations.  My mom inherited it, gave it t me and I, in turn, have handed it down to my kids.  Woo is me.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that wanting to be liked is necessarily a bad thing, but when it becomes ingrained it can be hard to strike that ever so necessary balance that is needed in all aspects of life.  Wanting to be liked is a basic human emotion.  We all desire and need people to affirm that we are good and decent and that they like us, but sometimes it can be to our detriment as well.

As individuals, we tend to apply our personal values and aspirations to things outside of our immediate worlds.  Case in point.  Living as a Canadian in Canada was a breeze for me.  Everyone loves Canadians.  Canadians are giving and polite, politically correct to the extreme and aside from internal conflict between French, English, and the First Nation communities most of the world tends to like Canada and Canadians in general.  I didn’t realize until I moved away how much I liked the fact that I lived in a country that just about everyone likes.

So now I live in Israel, a nation whose actions are constantly being analyzed and evaluated by almost everyone. Much like those of teenage girls, the relationships Israel maintains with other democratic countries can sometimes shift in a instant being solid and amicable one moment and strained and terse the next.  External situations and circumstances that are action-reaction based sometimes provide little time for the country to pontificate on how such actions will be perceived by friends and neighbors.  Israelis and veteran immigrants, I believe have become accustomed to their country undergoing such scrutiny and they have learned to not lose sleep over it and most especially if the cost of pleasing others comes at a hefty price.

Blame it on my nature, my deep Canadian roots, the relatively short time that I’ve been a resident of Israel or even some immaturity, I’m still finding it a bit hard to deal with the fact that I live in a Country that not everybody likes. 

When you’re young the thought that someone doesn’t like you can make you cry.  It can provoke feelings of inadequacy, deplete your self-esteem, not to mention, ruin your day.  As you age you begin to recognize, however, that being liked by those you share common values and belief systems with, those you admire and who nurture and encourage you are relationships of value and ones worth investment.  While still a relatively young country, adversity has forced the rapid maturity of Israel and her realization that being liked even by those who it shares commonalities with is second in importance to its own self-interest.

 This teeter-totter that Israel rests on has shifted weight many times since I arrived here and with every teeter and totter I have been challenged to become more comfortable with the sometimes lack of a warm fuzzy feeling that the country exudes. This is a stretch for me and I still get a bit stuck in that genetic “what will people think” kind of mentality when I inevitably pass opinion on all types things that affect the image of the Country.

Israel has aged me. Since my arrival, my face most definitely sports an array of new wrinkles be it from my progressing chronological age, the strong sun that is difficult to hide from or the intensity of life here. Apart from physical maturation, I have developed a more balanced, mature and, some would say, much healthier approach to my propensity for pleasing and am becoming more at ease with the idea that, just like Israel, not everybody needs to like me.

I still care deeply about others, giving to others and doing the right thing, but Israel as a country has taught that it isn’t always possible, nor is it always advisable to strive to have everyone like you. And so although I may not be thrilled with the wrinkles that now have become a feature of my almost 50 year old skin, I would have to say I’m a lot more comfortable in my own skin… another benefit you could say for choosing to live my life in Israel.

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