When I first read through How to Win Friends and Influence People I felt awesome and wanted the whole world to start liking me, one person after another. Some of the principles were obvious to me, like the rule never to badmouth and criticize anyone, but I’ve always been poor at inspiring people to talk about themselves, even though I’m a great listener. I bet there’s something new and something familiar in it for everyone.
But there was something about the book that I just couldn’t put my finger on.
There was something in the core principles that stopped me from working diligently on improving my relationships to an even greater level than before, even though all of the examples showed excellent results and even though it all made logical sense as well. It all finally dawned upon me once I looked at the big picture and the underlying motive of the book. The objective is to get others to like you, but is that really all you need in order to feel good about yourself?
People come and go, but the only person that will like you for the rest of your life is yourself - but only if you let him/her do that to you. This is the point where some might scoff at my egotistical view, but nobody can deny the fact that you alone consist of the company in which you’ll always be. So it’s most vital that you build on that relationship first before you can start to have other people like you as well.
Don’t you just feel sorry for people that try to be oh so popular while you can see right through their brittle shells that they feel insecure, afraid and disgusted on the inside about themselves? These are the people that don’t have a clue about the difference between self confidence and self esteem. Or about which one of these matters the most.
The reason I didn’t put more effort into all the principles outlined by Carnegie is that I already feel so good about myself that I don’t need others’ acceptance, interest or praise. I like getting some of that, but I don’t need it. I enjoy my current level of being fairly likeable in others’ eyes, but I’m not running a popularity contest. And you shouldn’t feel the urge to do it either, no matter how important it seems to be to some people.
If you strive only for external affection, you will end up getting an unhealthy perspective of yourself. You will only attract people into your life that tell you what you want to hear and not what you should hear. It all gets toxic and twisted in the long run. But if you allow yourself to be in the company of everyone and focus mainly on listening and learning from others, you’ll eventually become a person who leads others by example as well.
What you tell yourself is what creates the really big results and changes in your life. Why? Because what others say to you will always be filtered by your own mind-set about yourself. There are numerous examples of world class top performing athletes, artists and celebrities who receive incredible amounts of goodwill, praise, thank-yous and encouragement, but it all goes wasted because they still don’t feel perfectly satisfied with themselves. So read that sentence again and know it by heart. What others say to you will always be filtered by your own mind-set about yourself.
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