Your mind starts racing.
Did I say something stupid? Did I act in a weird way? What if people think I'm stupid, annoying, or just awkward?
Worrying about what other people think about you can easily get your mind wandering to dark places. Doing so can trigger feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, and insecurity. So to avoid potential embarrassment, you hide who you truly are.
Better to be invisible than negatively judged, right?
You already know you shouldn't worry about others opinion of you, but that's just easier said than done.
1. Realize That You're Not a Mind Reader
Do you really know what other people think about you? We often think we know, but assumptions can often lead to bad conclusions.
When I was planning to leave my corporate job in Paris and head off to New York to start a business, I was afraid to tell people. I thought they'd be unsupportive, try to talk me out of it, or perhaps call me crazy.
When I talked about it later with one of my ex-colleagues, she had similar plans and thought I was brave for taking the leap. The moral is that you never know what people think unless you give them a chance.
2. Act on What Will Serve You Long-Term
Judgment from others can hurt. But not as much as the pain of missing an opportunity due to fear of getting a negative reaction. Same as when walking up to an attractive person at a party – you face instant rejection but also missing out on meeting the love of your life if you don't act.
Negative comments from others affect you instantly, but regret over missed opportunities is something that festers and grows over time. Be willing to take short-term rejections in exchange for what will serve you long-term.
3. Stop Judging Yourself
We have an ability to think others judge us based on what we judge ourselves for. Just pause for a second and think about it. What you're afraid others will judge you for is really what you judge yourself for, isn't it?
So, who's judgment are we really talking about here? That's right, your own.
We're so aware of what we find awkward about ourselves that we tend to look for reactions in others to confirm our beliefs. When we stop judging ourselves and accept whatever that is making us feel insecure, we have no need to fear judgments from others.
4. Stop Judging Others
The more we judge others, the more we think they judge us. It's an ongoing vicious cycle that you must break. So, instead of judging people, appreciate them for what they are. See them as your teachers, helping you improve and develop in life.
When you catch yourself judging others, replace that judgment with curiosity. What can you learn from this person? Why are you reacting the way you are? Sometimes all we can learn is how not to be, and that's also a great reminder.
5. Know Who Counts
We fear other people judging us. But do you know exactly who these "other people" are? When I try to define them, I always come back to my high school classmates. Not high school friends – but classmates.
Now, do I actually care what they think about me and how I live my life? Not really.
The people who really matter in your life will (or at least they should) love you no matter what.
6. Realize That It's Not About You
People's negative reactions are about their experiences, wounds, and perspectives. It's about their own fears and limitations. It has nothing to do with you – nothing.
Quite a relieving thought isn't it?
For example, when I decided to start a business, a person told me, "Sure, but just be aware that you'll have no free time whatsoever in the coming months or even years." After having played this appalling thought in my head on repeat, it hit me – this was her idea of starting a business, not mine.
7. Focus on What Makes You Happy
If you're afraid to do what makes you happy because of what people might think, you're just wasting your time. Worrying is useless. It doesn't take you anywhere, and it doesn't change anything. It just keeps you busy doing … nothing!
Instead, channel that precious energy of yours into what will make a difference in your own life. Simply shift focus from them to what will make you happy. The more you love what's in your life, the less you will need others approval of them.
8. Sort Out What Upsets You
What is it you worry others will judge you for?
Your job situation, your relationship, or perhaps your skills and intelligence? Acknowledge what triggers uncertainty within you, and sort that out. Either accept the situation as it is or change it in some way.
When you come to peace with your situation, you won't need to worry about the reactions from others any longer. You have your own approval, and that's all that matters.
9. Expect Reactions
Instead of being afraid to create reactions – expect them. If you haven't created a response in someone (positive or negative), you probably haven't dared to be yourself fully.
Don't be scared of awakening feelings in others, even if they're negative. You don't have to agree with everyone, and they don't have to agree with you. And that's perfectly fine.
10. Talk with the Person You Think Is Judging
Next time you think someone is judging you, have a conversation with the person, and touch on the subject. You'll be surprised to see that they usually have other worries on their mind – worries you never even could have imagined.
Many times, they are too caught up in their own life to even think about yours. Who knows, perhaps they're worrying about what people like you think about them?
11. Do What Scares You
Whatever makes you feel insecure or scared – dive into it. Talk about it, express it, and write about it until you become comfortable with it.
Wear your leopard tights in public (oops, busted … hehe), talk about your awkward interest with people, and dare to ask questions that might seem stupid. Do the contrary to hiding, and be more open with who you are and what you're about.
12. Accept Yourself
This is what it all eventually comes down to, isn't it? If you accept yourself fully, you don't really worry about what others think about you. Accept your imperfections, flaws, and weaknesses. Be your imperfectly perfect self.
You are unique; never has there been or ever will be a person on this planet with the same set of DNA, personality traits, and talents as you have. Don't rob the world of your uniqueness. In that lies your excellence.
The World's Waiting for You
When you doubt yourself, it's easy to worry about what other people think about you, which only leads to more doubt. It's a harmful cycle that leaves you feeling insecure, frustrated, and even paralyzed in moving forward.
You are capable of so much in this life – don't let the fear of judgment hold you back. You deserve to live life as the happy, passionate, and a bit crazy person that you truly are. (Don't worry; we all are too in one way or another.)
Now is the time to take your power back. The 12 simple ways mentioned above should keep you on track with this. And always remember the one opinion about yourself that matters most – your own.
Now, go out there and show the world who you truly are. We are waiting.