Why We Fear Other People’s Judgment
Have you ever given up on something just because you were extremely afraid of other people’s judgment? Have you ever done something only to please someone else? Have you ever avoided showing people your emotions just to prevent confrontation?
Honestly, I did. I’ve gone from a “normal” college to having a “normal” job. It wasn’t what I wanted, but everyone thought it was a safer and better choice for me and, honestly, it was even easier. In my defense, I was young and unconcerned.
The fear of other people’s judgment sometimes can be so overwhelming that we decide to give up on what we really want, or on something new and out of ordinary.
We refuse to ask more from our lives and leave our comfort zone because our first thoughts are What will they assume about me? Are they going to approve it? Am I going to let them down?.
Going out of our comfort zone is very scary — I know — but does staying inside make you feel good?
Look at yourself.
You can’t live your life lying to yourself; if you don’t listen to the little voice inside of you, your mind and your body will. They will tell you that you are going against your genuine desire and aspiration, with powerful emotions or anxiety, or sometimes even psychosomatic symptoms.
So what should we do? The first step I’ve learned is to look inside myself. When you feel that a judgment makes you feel uncomfortable, take a breath, and think: “Why do I feel bad about it? Which emotion am I feeling right now? Sadness, rage, fear? What I am afraid of? Why do I need their approval?”
If we keep in touch with ourselves, we could easily find the answers: the more you know yourself — being honest with yourself is not simple, I know — the easier you can be detached from people’s opinions and external situations.
Having opinions and advice from people is a good thing, of course, but judgments can be destructive if you don’t know how to handle them.
“Stop criticizing yourself for everything you aren’t and start appreciating yourself for everything you are.” — Unknown
Be aware of your inner critic
One of the most important things that psychologists have studied about the fear of judgment, is that it comes from our self-judgment.
In a lot of cases, the inner critic is very active and strict: we constantly test ourselves, maybe even unconsciously. We have opinions about what we do and who we are; we have insecurities and we project them onto other people. They become like a mirror that reflects our vulnerabilities: we are scared to hear from them what we think of ourselves.
If you think about it, you are less scared about being tested when you are very confident about something you’ve done.
You feel judged the moment you are judging yourself.
You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens. — Louise Hay.
Judging ourselves has never really worked, maybe it can give us motivation in a short term, but, in the long period, it tears us down. When you talk bad about yourself, you are leaving a mark on your self-esteem; it becomes a part of your identity and of the image you show others. We all have faults, but we also have success: let’s be more gentle and notice all the good things we do.
In my experience, my inner critic has always been more severe than the actual external judgment. People are rarely judging you harshly and, even if they do, it reveals something about them, not you.
“Every time I judge someone else, I reveal an unhealed part of myself.” — Joy Marino.
Let’s face it: people are always judging, it’s part of human nature. Obviously, we cannot shape other people’s minds, but we can work on our ability to accept it.
We can’t please everyone, it’s impossible, being perfect is not part of human nature. Some people will reject our ideas and choices, but we have to get over them! We can’t live our lives happily if we pursue an impossible goal.
Surmounting the fear of being judged is a big step to live happier, lighter, and oriented to our dreams.
One important key is staying mindful, in touch with your inner voice and your emotions. Listen to them. You could understand where your fear of judgment comes from and try to overcome it. It’s a long process, it requires a lot of attempts and it could be uncomfortable, but you are the only person who can do that.
No one else can manage your feelings and reactions except for you.
If you let your happiness depend on what people think, your life will always rely on their judgment. Invest in your resources, your value, and in boosting your confidence and self-esteem.
“No one rejects you. They reject your choices, your opinions. But no one rejects who you are.” — Giusi Valentini.
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