Do you know this feeling when you are around people and you find yourself thinking, “What do they think about me right now? How do they see me? Did I behave OK? Did I sound smart? Maybe stupid? Should I not have said that?”
In this article I’ll show you that your fear of what others say or think about you is merely a reflection of your own fear – what you think about yourself. I’ll show you that as long as you’re at peace with your thoughts and behavior, you will not have to be bothered with how others see you.
We live in a society, and of course it matters to us to behave by the norms; however, when we let the constant contemplation of what others think dictate our behavior, we lose our self identity. We stop being ourselves, and we mirror how we think others perceive us.
Have you noticed that the most lovable people – the ones who are appreciated and respected by others – are the same ones never give up on who they truly are? They’re the, “What you see is what you get” type. They’re not pretending to be someone else, they’re not masking their flaws, they’re not perfect and they know it, and they openly show their good traits.
Their presence feels natural and it’s pretty easy to connect with them. Those kind of people never lose who they are. This kind of person surely doesn’t deal with the question, “How do others perceive me?” because they know it isn’t relevant. They realized a long time ago that all that matters is how they see themselves.
I invite you to try this exercise:
Think of a time you were so sure of what you were saying or thinking or feeling. It can be anything in the world. For example, one of my business colleagues is 100% sure that he is in love with his wife. Nobody can convince him differently and he doesn’t care what others think about it, because he is so confident and complete with that feeling.
When do you begin to be bothered with how others perceive you, your opinions or behavior? When you’re not sure, and when you’re not confident. In a social gathering, a person who genuinely believes that he has the right to be present, that he has the right to speak up and participate in social settings, won’t be worried at all about what others might think of him.
If he would believe that he is not deserving and that his presence doesn’t mean a lot, he would pay attention to what others think of him, because he thinks in a certain way about himself!
Your fear of what others think of you is simply a reflection of your fear of what you think about yourself.
If you believe that others think you’re not smart enough, it shows that you have a fear that you’re not smart enough. If you think others perceive you as not pretty, it is because you believe so.
You think you’re afraid of other people’s opinions, but it’s not true. You’re only hiding your real fear from yourself. It could be disadvantages you have or negative emotions you carry about yourself. Diverting the attention to others won’t help you deal with your fear or worries.
When you are ready to look at yourself deeply, be introspective about your worries or issues, that shows that you would like to develop your skills and to evolve as a person. The growing process can be gaining new talents or proficiencies; it could be self-acceptance or building higher self-esteem.
Then, the fear of others won’t stimulate you anymore. A new force will inspire you and that will be focusing on your desires and aspirations. This acknowledgment will intensify your sense of self-esteem.
The emphasis on other people’s opinions will cease to exist because you’ll realize that worry is not real. It was just a disguise, shifting the problem from you to them. They’re not the focus anymore – you are.
Now you know that the fear of others is the fear of yourself. Once you develop the skills to improve and to be complete with yourself, the perspective of the environment around you won’t guide and shape your life.