It’s perfectly natural to have a fear of being judged and worry sometimes about what other people think about us because all of us want to be liked and valued by others. But for some of us the fear of being judged, whether it’s about our skills, decisions, personality, or otherwise, is ever-present and has a big influence on how we live, interact with others and make choices.
But, this fear could be causing you to live your life in ways that aren’t best for you, do things you would rather not do, and hurt your self-esteem, so it would be great to overcome your fear of being judged. But how can you start?
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Find The Root Of Your Fear Of Being Judged By Others
It may be very useful to first think about what exactly your fears are. Try to find what is behind your fear of being judged by others.
Perhaps you encounter this problem at work, for example. You might be worried about appearing incompetent or lazy, or you might not speak up when you really should, because you’re worried your boss or coworkers will dislike that or disregard your opinions.
Or, perhaps you’re anxious about whether your friends or other people will like or properly understand you. If you allow yourself to open up and speak freely about yourself or something else important, will other people accept you and what you think? Could you be misunderstood or disliked?
These are all natural and understandable fears, but try to think about whether these things you fear are actually likely to occur, or whether you’re imagining the worst possible outcomes instead. And, what if things turn out well?
If you have a problem about something at work, your boss or coworkers may be very grateful that you brought the issue up for them to assist with.
If you’re talking with a friend or acquaintance and they disagree with you on something, or don’t understand something about you, will they really go so far as to dislike you for that? What if it leads to a good discussion instead, and a better understanding of each other as a result?
The Consequences Of The Fear Of Being Judged
Does worrying so much about what other people think bring you any real benefit? It probably doesn’t, and the fear of being judged probably prevents you from doing things that you would otherwise love to do.
Try to think of the sorts of things you would love to do if only you didn’t have a fear of being judged about them, and write them down if you can. Now think again about what exactly you’re afraid will happen if you do these things. Perhaps you’re thinking of how you could be embarrassed, or how people might think you’re foolish, or dislike you, or other possibilities.
As before, are these fears really realistic, or are they unlikely, worst-case scenarios? Even if there is a chance of them happening, is it really worth abandoning these things you want to do so badly just to avoid those negative reactions? You can never please everybody at once, and even if you do embarrass yourself a little sometimes, or leave some people wondering what you’re thinking, the benefits to you, your confidence and your life are likely to far outweigh that.
Imagine the possibility that when you decide to disregard your fear of being judged and do the things you want to do, people not only don’t judge negatively you for it, but are pleased that you’re speaking your mind, or acting with more confidence, or doing whatever else is right for you.
Think again of something you would like to do, preferably something small and achievable, and do it. Chances are nothing bad or embarrassing will happen, and if it does, you’ll soon realise that there’s no harm in it anyway. To be able to better deal with the fear of being judged, you’ll need practice, and after a while of getting just a little bit outside of your comfort zone, the bigger possibilities will seem much less scary.
When you allow yourself to do what’s right for you, regardless of what judgements other people make about you, you’ll open yourself up to a world of new possibilities and build more confidence.
You should also think about your relationships. Becoming closer with your friends, family, partner and other loved ones often means having to be vulnerable and open, and this means putting up with the risk of being judged. Remember that the people you’re close to are not constantly evaluating how much they like you based on every negative or positive thought they have about you, they already love you for who you are.
The people who matter most in your life want you to do what’s best for your happiness and wellbeing, even if they don’t always understand some of the choices you make. If your fears are really true, and somebody is negatively judging you for every action you take without considering your thoughts and feelings, they probably aren’t someone who has your best interests in mind.
What Other People Think About You
Another important part of overcoming your fear of being judged is to think from other people’s perspectives. Try to remember someone you met recently, even if they’re not someone you know well, and imagine being in their shoes as they interacted with you. It’s possible that you’re thinking that the meeting was awkward, that you looked or talked strangely, or that you made a bad first impression.
But next, think back to your own perspective and try to remember what you thought of the other person. In most situations, you probably don’t remember the other person doing anything embarrassing, or worth judging them about. Even if they did do anything potentially embarrassing like stumbling over their words, or if there was something off about their appearance that day, you probably didn’t think anything of it. There’s a good chance that the other person was worrying about what you thought of them, too.
Every person instinctively makes judgments about the people they meet, even if we know little or nothing about them. We need to do this to help us understand the world, because we’ll never know the full story of every person we meet or every place we go to. But most of the time we don’t dwell on these first judgements we make about someone, and when we gain more knowledge about them, these first judgements are replaced by that better understanding.
Perhaps you’re correct in your fears, and somebody does make a negative judgement of you. Perhaps it was from something you did or said, or perhaps it was from something that couldn’t be your fault, like if they don’t like your appearance or the way you speak. You probably make these kinds of judgements about people yourself sometimes, but nothing bad happens to them when you do, and you probably forget about it within a short time, especially if you get to know them better.
In short, it’s important to remember that you never really know what someone is thinking, and every person you meet has their own worries and other matters in their lives to think about. It would be very strange if everybody was as focused on you, your actions and your mistakes as your negative thoughts tell you they are.
Could You Have Social Anxiety Disorder?
If your fear of being judged by others is very intense, and you often find yourself consumed and troubled by thoughts of what others think of you and fear social situations, you should consider whether you may have Social anxiety disorder. When you have this kind of anxiety, you might feel like you’re being constantly judged and observed by the people around you. The fear of situations like these affects your daily life, as you avoid any situation that could be potentially embarrassing or awkward.
Social anxiety isn’t an unusual problem and there is treatment available to help you improve it, so if you suspect you do have a social anxiety disorder, you should try and seek out help.
Feeling worried about what others think about you is perfectly normal, and every person on earth shares these same fears. Everybody feels insecure sometimes, and negative feelings like these are a part of life. Remember that you shouldn’t prioritise other people’s opinions about you above what’s best for your own wellbeing and happiness.
Although you can never know for sure what a person is thinking, it’s important to try and accept that sometimes people will make judgements about you because of something you did, and that you didn’t deserve, but these judgements are probably quickly forgotten, and regardless they won’t hurt you in any way. Knowing that, you will hopefully be able to live and act with more confidence.
If you don’t suffer from anxiety but you want to get help on overcoming your fear of being judged by other people you can hire a transformational coach.