Do You Often Feel Like Everyone’s Mad at You? I Asked Psychologists Why

I know the thought is irrational and unrealistic, but I can't help but feel like no one really likes me.

6 min read

I stare at the text I sent my friend. It's been an hour. She's seen it. But, there's no response.

I switch to another app to distract myself, and see that meme I sent another friend. It has no response either. Not even an emoji.

Two hours pass, and no response from either of them. My messages remain unanswered even after five hours. And like clockwork, my mind gets to work – sewing an elaborate tapestry of worst-case scenarios that has an apocalyptic end – me losing my friends.

Does this thought process sound familiar? Do you ever walk into a room –your office, a classroom, or some party, and think, is everyone mad at me? Do they all hate me? Are they all only just tolerating me?
I know the thought is irrational and unrealistic, but I can't help but feel like no one really likes me.

Do you ever feel like everyone is ignoring you on purpose?

(Photo: Vibhushita Singh/FIT)

I know the feeling is irrational, and unrealistic too. But when the mind wants to rile you up, it does a pretty good job of making its arguments sound logical. Is there a way to escape this web of insecurity? FIT speaks to mental health experts to find out.


Why Do We Have These Intrusive Thoughts?

Why do so many of us feel this way from time to time?

For one, mental health experts tell me that this feeling is linked to anxiety. So if you have been diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety, or just have a tendency to be anxious, you are more likely to experience such intrusive thoughts.

According to Dr Ruksheda Syeda, a psychotherapist based in Mumbai, and Dr Kamna Chhiber, Head of Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Hospital, Gurugram, some other underlying causes for this thought pattern could be:

  • Low self-esteem

  • Loneliness

  • Fear of abandonment

  • Past experiences

  • Insecure attachment style

"The person may have some kind of an attachment issue because of which they constantly feel like they are not good enough, or that people don’t like them. They might become people pleasers, particularly at work."
Dr Ruksheda Syeda, Psychotherapist

"It may have some sort of linkage with their past experiences where their experiences may have been invalidated," adds Dr Chhibber.

I know the thought is irrational and unrealistic, but I can't help but feel like no one really likes me.

Unread messages, andunreturned calls can send you down a spiral of self-doubt.

(Photo: Vibhushita Singh/FIT)

Past Experiences & Attachment Styles

An attachment style is a specific pattern of behaviour in and around relationships.

"All of this is also dependent on past experiences which may have cemented these kinds of insecurities in them," says Dr Syeda.

Dr Syeda talks about how your negative experience with the various relationships in your childhood can shape your pattern of behaviour when it comes to relationships in the future.

“People can become very insecure with themselves, and worry, 'Oh, people will figure out what kind of person I am and leave me,' she adds.

If you have an insecure attachment style, you are more likely to have a fear of abandonment. You care too much about what others think of you, which makes you paranoid of the thought of people not liking you.

Having been through it enough times, I came to realise that this thought process forced me to view my relationships as being less secure than they really were.

What if It’s Not Just in Your Head?

Now, say your assumption is correct. It's possible some people may be mad at you, or even dislike you. Then what?

The idea that someone might not like them is not something people with low self-esteem and insecure attachment style can easily cope with.

"It makes them feel very anxious because it makes them feel out of control because they can’t fix it," says Dr Syeda.

This sets off a cycle of self-destructive thought, wherein all their negative beliefs about themselves get reinforced.

"A person who is a people-pleaser may also be very needy, and need attention constantly which might become a burden to other people. Because of this some people may move away, which further reinforces your fear that nobody likes you, and that everyone abandons you when they get to know you."
Dr Ruksheda Syeda, Psychotherapist

"They start thinking along the lines of, 'Oh, I knew this would happen, I knew nobody likes me, and I knew nobody wants to be friend with me', and it just becomes about them, and how they are feeling abandoned, instead of focusing on what they can do to fix it, and see things from the other person’s perspective."

I know the thought is irrational and unrealistic, but I can't help but feel like no one really likes me.

The idea that someone might not like them is not something people with low self-esteem can easily cope with.

(Photo: Vibhushita Singh/FIT)

Is It Possible to Change This Thought Pattern?

These are your patterns of emotional reactions, automatic thought, and behaviour. Can these patterns be changed?

"Yes," says Dr Ruksheda.

"You needs to understand and recognise these patterns, and unlearn them by accepting the good and the bad of yourself, and not sit and worry about the possibility of people not liking you.”
Dr Ruksheda Syeda Psychotherapist

Some ways to do this is are by:

  • Being Objective

Dr Syeda says, taking a step back, and depersonalising from the situation can help you take an objective look at the situation.

"We need to be realistic, and objective in our approach to our patterns of behaviour so we can undo the damaging ones, and inculcate and develop more healthy ones that can help us build a healthy self-esteem."
Dr Ruksheda Syeda, Psychotherapist

"It's important is to surround yourself with the right kind of people who can keep strengthening your understanding of situations and supporting you," says Dr Chhibber.

  • Fact-checking Your Internal Narrative

See if there are more positive interpretations than the picture your mind is painting. Reminding myself of past instances where my conclusions were proved false, helped me rationalise these thoughts, and be less paranoid.

  • Looking Beyond Yourself

Zoom out of the situation and analyse if there are alternative explanations for their actions that may have nothing to do with you.

  • Communicate, Clarify

"A lot of the times people do not seek clarification, and operate on the basis of their assumptions about the situation," says Dr Chhibber.

"When you seek that clarification and the person expresses that they were in fact not okay, it is important to remember that having a difference of opinion doesn't mean the person dislikes you."
Dr Kamna Chhibber, Head – Department of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Memorial research institute
I know the thought is irrational and unrealistic, but I can't help but feel like no one really likes me.

Communication is key.

(Photo: Vibhushita Singh/FIT)

"It is important to break this association because just one aspect is typically not used by anyone to make an inference about a person overall," she adds.

  • Ground Yourself With Positives

Not everyone will like you, and that's okay. But it's also important to "accept the fact that you are genuinely loved," says Dr Syeda.

"There won't be anyone who doesn’t have even a single person in their lives that likes them genuinely. We need to remind ourselves of these realities."
Dr Ruksheda Syeda, Psychotherapist

Dr Chhibber adds that every person needs some sort of a validation that they're doing okay, and that they are loved. "Having a support system that provides you with that reinforcement when you need it, is important," she says.

  • Work On Yourself

"It's important to be able to focus on the strengths that you do have to understand what are your abilities, your capabilities," says Dr Kamna Chhibber.

"But, if you do notice that there are certain spaces where you know that there could be some improvement, you should actively work towards that so that you can keep giving your mind that feedback."

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