It is remarkable how often I listen to clients worrying themselves sick over people who don’t even seem to like them.
The other day a woman complained she didn’t know how to handle a guy who’d treated her like something under his shoe. He didn’t call, didn’t pay attention to her life or any of the issues she was facing at work or with her family. He pretty much just talked, and cared, about himself.
But she couldn’t seem to get over him.
He called again, wanted to get together.
“Should I see him?” She asked me.
The answer was obvious. Every time she’d given in – and it had happened plenty – the same pattern played out. He was considerate and nice for a week or two, then went back to the same old routine of ignoring her needs and focusing entirely on himself.
I told her she needed greater wisdom than I could summon. She needed to listen to Barry Manilow.
You probably have some sort of opinion regarding the creative output of Barry Manilow – which is to say you probably either love his music or you hate it.
If you love it – really, really love it – then you’re a “fanilow,” a Barry Manilow super-fan.
A friend of mine visited Las Vegas last year with his two elderly aunts, and – mostly to humor them – went to see Barry Manilow play at one of the big resort hotels. He posted his response up on Facebook: “I’m a fanilow!”
He was wowed – like plenty of people who actually go to see this hard-working, talented performer who gives everything he’s got on stage.
Barry loves his fanilows. He thanks them, he signs their programs, he tells them again and again that he owes them everything, that they’re the reason he can keep on performing and doing what he loves. They love him – and he loves them right back.
On the other hand, I read an interview a few years back where the reporter got a bit snarky with Barry, hinting that his music was widely dismissed as camp, mere sugary trash. I don’t remember Barry’s precise words, but he said something like this: “I take my work very seriously, and if you aren’t going to treat it with respect, I’ll end this interview right now.”
He had a point, and he made it. Barry Manilow does what he loves, and there are many people who celebrate him for it. He doesn’t need the haters.
You can learn from Barry Manilow.
Find your fanilows – and hold them tight. Cherish them. Celebrate them as they celebrate you. Those are the people who deserve you in their lives.
The haters? The critics? The people who take you for granted or tear you down? Push them away.
There are plenty of people in this world. You can find some fanilows – starting with yourself. No one loves Barry’s music more than Barry – and that’s exactly how it should be.
Here’s a good ground rule for dating (I call it “the Manilow Rule”): Don’t even consider a relationship with anyone who isn’t a fanilow – your fanilow. If the other person isn’t excited – thrilled – ecstatic – jumping up and down with enthusiasm about a date with you, push him aside and find someone who is.
Be your own biggest fan – and start a fan club.
If you’re hoping he’ll call, he’s not a fanilow. A fan doesn’t leave you wondering – he lets you know you know he’s dying to see you. That’s the guy for you.
Does surrounding yourself with fanilows sound a bit dangerous? A bit too easy? Would it turn you into a self-satisfied egomaniac, unwilling to hear criticism?
It doesn’t have to. I’m sure Barry reads the critics, and he ponders their suggestions. He takes everything into consideration – then he makes his calls, his own decisions about his music and his performances.
You can have a suggestion box, too. And you can invite people to write down their suggestions and stick them in. And you can read them, and consider each and every one on its merits. If they have a problem with you, they can say so, and you’ll listen.
But at the end of the day, you have to make your own calls. You decide who you want to be – your most authentic, best self.
Then you go out into the world, and sort through the haters – and the fanilows.
The haters you can listen to politely, and push aside.
But the fanilows are the ones who celebrate you, and make it possible for you to see what’s best in yourself.
Be good to the fanilows. Treat them like gold.
My new book is a comic novel about a psychotherapist who falls in love with a blue alien from outer space. I guarantee pure reading pleasure: Bad Therapist: A Romance
Please also check out The People’s Therapist’s legendary best-seller about the sad state of the legal profession: Way Worse Than Being a Dentist: The Lawyer’s Quest for Meaning
My first book is an unusual (and useful) introduction to the concepts underlying psychotherapy: Life is a Brief Opportunity for Joy
(In addition to Amazon.com, my books are also available on bn.com and the Apple iBookstore.)