Do you ever feel held back from being or doing your true self because you think other people might judge you? If so you are totally normal. Welcome to the human club!
This is one way our brains keep us “safe.” Feeling judged is often equivalent to feeling rejected. (Isn’t it interesting that we don’t feel the same way when its a positive judgement?) Rejection is a death sentence from an evolutionary or cave man perspective, because if we are separated from the tribe, predators have a better chance. Today, though, we aren’t being hunted by predators, so judgement/rejection isn’t nearly as dangerous to us.
How do we get through it?
There are a few things you can do or think about in order to change your perspective and get more out of your life.
- Write a list of who you think will judge you. Be specific. Don’t write “all the neighbors.” Instead write down their names. Often times the people we fear will judge us boil down to only one or two people.
- Think about best and worst case scenarios. So what if people judge you harshly?What will that mean to you? How will you respond? Do you want it bad enough to keep going anyway? What if they judge you positively? What will that mean?
- Recognize that other people’s judgements are about them, not you. Back to my baby example: if I started screaming at a baby, would that mean something about the baby, or about me? You need to be confident in who you are or what you are doing, so that other people’s thoughts don’t affect you. You may want to ask opinions, and you may even want to value those opinions, but do it deliberately and have good reasons for doing so.
- Think about what feeling you are trying to get to or avoid. When I was a teenager, by grandparents didn’t approve of my boyfriend. I started avoiding my grandparents altogether because I didn’t want to feel guilty. What feeling are you trying to avoid (or gain)? Can you feel that feeling and not die? Of course you can.
- Do it afraid. If there is something you really want to do, but those possible judgements are holding you back, do it anyway. You might surprise yourself at the results you will get! I recently taught a class on all these ideas I’ve been blogging about. I volunteered, afraid that I might be rejected, but I did it anyway. I was a bit scared because I wanted it to turn out well. And you know what? It turned out amazingly well! Sometimes doing something afraid pushes us to step up and perform better than in an atmosphere of comfort.
I would love to hear your experiences and if this advice helped you at all. Until tomorrow, may you be judged by other people!