Anxiety And Likability
If you make a quick mental list of the people you like being around you’ll probably concur that they tend to lower your felt sense of existential anxiety. If you make a quick mental list of the people you dislike being around you’ll probably concur that they tend to exacerbate your felt sense of existential anxiety. So in a way trying to figure out how to define likability, trying to figure out what makes some people likable and others unlikable, is really easy. If they’re unconsciously perceived to be anxiety reducers they’re likable and if they’re unconsciously perceived to be anxiety exacerbators they’re unlikable.
In this sense likability is not as much about a grouping of personality traits in the other as it is about whether or not this other cues off existential anxiety in you. The problem with using felt anxiety as the true criteria in determining likability is that while experiencing existential anxiety is unpleasant it’s not necessarily bad.
Obviously it feels bad, but existential anxiety within normal levels is good. It’s a built in alarm system that, if heeded, helps you make the best choices for your growth and self-actualization. And it’s inseparable from freedom since when you have the freedom of choice the threat arises that you might make the wrong choice.
Those who increase your anxiety aren’t necessarily your enemies while those who reduce your anxiety aren’t necessarily your friends and therefore determining likability and unlikability in the people who surround you shouldn’t center around whether they increase or reduce your anxiety but rather on whether they’re trying to foster or stunt your growth as a human being. Many who often increase your anxiety, like parents, teachers, coaches, friends, and significant others, don’t offer you the easy road of no anxiety because they know that road would keep you from becoming who and what you’re capable of becoming. And many who reduce your anxiety, like acquaintances with agendas, various corporations, and politicians, offer you the easy road of no anxiety because this road serves their interests in some way, not because they want what’s best for you.