How to Stop Worrying What Other People Think of You

In my time as a coach, I’ve seen so many clients not acting on their desires and brilliant ideas for the fear of what others would think of them –


Staying in a relationship they’re no longer happy in because their parents think “he’s such a great guy”


Staying in a job that’s no longer fulfilling because “you’re crazy to leave such a good job”


Feeling stuck at work because they’re afraid of speaking their truth and therefore hiding their brilliance, too


Not pursuing that creative venture for the fear of being laughed at


Not launching a business for the fear of being judged because ‘who do you think you are?’

We all carry other people’s voices around in our heads, often making it impossible for us to hear our own. Over time, I’ve come to realize that ‘what other people think’, whether we’re aware of it or not, in one way or another, is one of the biggest fears that holds us back from going after what we want. I was stunned by it at first. How come other people have so much power over us? Over our decisions and choices, over what we do/don’t do, and ultimately over how much fulfilment and satisfaction we experience in our lives. Working with clients in heartfelt coaching sessions, and supporting them through unblocking these fears, I studied, I observed, and I learned... What I learned, and of course from my own personal journey, is that the problem isn’t other people’s judgments but rather our own judgments about ourselves. We are afraid of being judged or being laughed at because on some subconscious level we’re afraid of it reinforcing what we already believe about ourselves deep inside. In truth, it’s not actually that other people have so much power over us, it’s our thoughts and beliefs about ourselves that have the power. It’s our imaginations of hypothetical future situations, that may or may not happen, that all too often hold us hostage. Keep us stuck in indecision and inaction. We tell ourselves that we're scared of what other people would think of us (which feels so real!) but what it really boils down to is being scared of ourselves, of our own inner critic and self-judgment. The reality is that we’re unlikely to be judged for our life choices and/or how we express ourselves. If anything, ‘our people’ will find our truth inspiring. When we do something scary such as following our heart, whether it’s leaving a ‘good paying job’, ending a relationship with a ‘great partner’ or expressing ourselves fully in our lives, we inevitably experience fear and doubt for the precise reason that we’re doing something new and different. What often scares us is not the worries, questions and judgments of others; what scares us is that they’ll confirm the fear we hold within. What we’re afraid of being laughed at is a reflection of our own insecurities. This is good news because while we have absolutely no control over what others think about us, even though we’d like to believe we do, we do have control over, or rather we can learn to manage, our own self-beliefs and judgements. Once we know that the fear of what other people think of us is mostly not about the thing itself as much as it’s about our inner world, we’ve got power. We can use these fears to discover our insecurities and the negative beliefs we hold about ourselves and do the work to change them.

When I reflected on when I was most held back by the fear of others’ opinions (when I started my business) and seeing when it mostly comes up for my clients, I realised something profound – it is right when we’re at the edge of our growth that this fear kicks in. So what if, instead of being paralysed by it, we can learn to see it as a sign to go in that direction? A sign that we’re stepping into a more authentic, more expressed and more bold version of ourselves. I know you probably opened this email hoping there’s a magic wand you can wave that will make these fears go away. Unfortunately, there isn’t one. As Robert Frost writes – “the only way out is through.” But here’s what I can say that may hopefully bring some comfort and encouragement as you’re mustering the courage to ‘go through’ – people live in their own heads, they are focused on their own challenges and issues. If someone has the time or energy to think negatively about you it’s only because your spoken truth is triggering their own unspoken truth. When you’re being yourself, living a life that’s an expression of you, going after your dreams, pursuing your aspirations, living your values and priorities, making your own decisions… it forces those around you to look at their own lives. You will come across people who are not ready to face their truth, and so yes, they might judge you, but the person they’re truly judging is themselves. And, you’ll also come across people who will be inspired by your truth and who will, thanks to you, muster the courage to be true to themselves. All relationships are mirrors and people will reflect back to us what we believe about ourselves. Rather than making it all about others, we need to come back to ourselves and notice what we’re thinking and feeling within us that is causing us to fear their judgement. Eventually, you will kick more worries to the curb than you keep, and it will be exhilarating. There’s great liberation in developing immunity to other people’s judgments and opinions, and, even more so, in letting go of your self-judgment. Onwards & Upwards, Love, Naama

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