Opinions Are Not Facts: How To Overcome The Fear Of Being Judged
Clodagh O'Mahony·November 17, 2021
Have you ever had a really good idea but talked yourself out of it because you were worried about what people might say, played small in life, because you feared what others would think, or been so caught up in how others might perceive you that you’ve forgotten to consult the one opinion that actually matters: your own?
If you answered ‘yes’ then you’ve suffered from a fear of judgement and you’ll know that other people’s opinions can hold you back and can stop you growing in all sorts of ways if you let them.
Scientific studies show we’re four times more likely to remember criticism than we are to remember praise and for every negative judgement we receive we need to experience five positive events to recover.
But what if you could learn to pay no attention to what other people think? Imagine your success was just your success and you didn't care how you were perceived by others. Remember that saying that 'anything worth doing attracts both admiration and criticism'.
With this in mind, are you ready to let go of the fear of being judged for good?
How To Overcome The Fear Of Being Judged
Remember why people judge
Have you ever lashed out at someone when you were upset? Or felt the sting of comparison at a time when your confidence was low? Judgement is a similar reaction: It’s pain, insecurity and fear that causes people to criticise.
In her book Judgement Detox, Gabrielle Bernstein puts it like this: “Behind the wall of judgement lie our deepest feelings of inadequacy and shame… We resist [this] by projecting it onto others through judgement and then we grow to rely on judgement as a way of finding relief from our wounds.”
This means people’s opinions of you aren’t factually accurate. Rather, they are distorted by their own unique experiences and insecurities and are often a way for them to feel better about themselves. Basically? What people think about you says more about them than it does about you.
Or as Earl Nightingale puts it, “When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.” The next time you receive unhelpful criticism or fear being ridiculed, remember that.
Change the story you’ve been telling yourself
Why do we fear being judged so much? It comes down to this: most of us are terrified that other people will confirm one of our worst fears: that we aren’t good enough. That’s why working through your own insecurities can keep the fear of judgement at bay.
Ask yourself this: where do you feel the most vulnerable? Write down what comes to mind. It could be that you don’t’ have faith in your abilities or you believe that you simply aren’t smart enough to succeed.
Next, create some affirmations to refute these limiting beliefs. (We provide a space in our Gratitude Journal to do just that!) A belief like “I’m crap at this!” could become “I’m new at this and I’m learning and improving every day.”
If you want to go one further look no further than our Mirror Markers. With these colourful markers, you can write empowering messages to yourself that will boost your confidence and improve the only opinion that really matters: the one you have of yourself.
Learn from it
Picture the scene: you’ve worked super hard on an important project and now it’s time to hear your boss’s verdict. Good news, they love it, except for one little thing. Your boss has given you ten wonderful pieces of praise, and one “area to work on”. So which do you focus on? We’ll bet it’s the area to work on, right?
In an evolutionary sense, we’re actually wired to focus on the negatives. This in-built negativity bias is a survival mechanism that has been protecting us from threats, and while negative feedback can really sting, it can actually be your greatest opportunity for improvement.
The next time you receive some constructive criticism, grab your journal and ask yourself a few questions. We suggest the following:
Is this criticism fair and warranted, and ultimately something I can learn from?
Does this trigger me in any way and, if so, why might that be?
Can I use this to improve in any way, and if so, how?
Remember this: Sometimes criticism is completely unfounded, but occasionally it can be a wonderful way to learn and grow.
“If you’re going to trust one person, let it be yourself.” It was author Robert Tew who said those words, and he’s right. So often we place too much weight on the opinion of others while ignoring the ones we hold ourselves.
So how can you let go of fear and learn to trust yourself? You could reflect on a time you overcame adversity despite the odds, note down a few of your biggest life achievements, or make a chart of your best strengths, talents and skills.
Our suggestion - Open The Head Plan Productivity & Wellness Journal and start setting some goals for yourself. Every week make progress towards those goals and be sure to keep a record of the moments you’re most proud of. When you see just how much you are able to accomplish, you’ll realise just how capable you are.
This is YOUR journey, no one else’s…
A wise man once said that opinions are like noses – everybody has one. But just like you wouldn’t light a candle and expect to smell it while holding your nose, you shouldn’t let the opinions of others guide you and your journey.
Ask yourself this: if no one else’s opinion mattered, if I knew that no matter what I did I couldn’t fail and that ultimately everything I put my energy toward was for my greater good, what would I do?
Have you answered the above? Now do it, because people’s opinions are like a single grey cloud on an otherwise perfectly blue sky: they only matter if you let them.