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“But I’m worried about what other people will think”

Actually, this is what you're really saying... and it's your biggest show stopper.

Image by Nicoletaionescu
Image by Nicoletaionescu

When it comes to doing something you want to do, or using your voice, or making choices for yourself, I bet that worrying about what other people think, is by far the biggest thing that’s responsible for stopping you in your tracks. Sounds about right?

Who is missing out?

What I want to know is, just how many cool ideas and dreams are getting canned out there?

How many times have we missed out on reading something insightful, hearing something inspirational, gazing over something beautiful because the person who could share their special something, held back because they were too worried about what other people might think?

What are we really saying?

Every time I hear something is getting scrapped for the sake of not wanting to be judged by other people, it pulls at my heart strings. Why? Because what this line “I’m worried about what other people will think” is really saying is:

“I’m going to hand over the reins of my life to ‘other people’. I don’t know who they are exactly, but my gut is telling me, they don’t want me to do this.”

or 

“I’m willing to not do something that’s important to me, just so I can avoid potentially being disliked or judged.” 

Sure, we might reframe it or say it’s because it’s not the right time, it’s too risky, I’m not experienced enough, I can’t afford to.. but usually, if you dig deep enough, it boils down to “what’ll people think of me if such and such happens?”

What is this fear based on, anyways?

So what I’d also like to know is, who are these people ‘out there’? Is there a whole mob of them? Is it one particular person? Who is it that we’re so afraid of offending? Are they peeking over the fence watching our every move? Stalking our accounts? Studying things in detail? Making it their problem? Thinking about what we’re doing day and night? Don’t think so. So why do ‘they’ have so much power over us?

Image by Nicoletaionescu

One thing we’ve got to understand is that every single one of us is trying to do the same thing- which is, we’re all trying to get on with life.

If this something you’ve struggled with, then I hate to break it to you- we’re so caught up doing our own thing, watching our own back, that we’re really not that deeply invested in what you do/don’t do or decide to have a crack at. So go for gold! I’ll do my thing, so go ahead and please, do your thing.

When someone judges

Yeah, people judge. Most people judge. It’s what we do. We all have a view of the world and we all have an opinion. We’re entitled to it.

But when it comes to doing something you love or you’re passionate about, don’t let that be the thing that stops you.

The only time an opinion should matter to you, is when a) you’ve asked for advice and it’s given in a supportive way and b) that person is willing to get in the ring and jump into action with you.

If someone decides they want to be mean or über critical though, it’s probably a reflection of something that they’re challenged with. This tends to happen when a person struggles with feelings of insignificance. They have a choice to either build their own building or tear down yours (which one do you think is easier?). But it’s not your responsibility to manage all that. It’s theirs.

And trust me, when people act in a nasty way, they end up hurting themselves more.

If there are people in your life that treat you in such a way, perhaps you need to ask yourself “why are they in my life?”. If they’re not in your life, then who cares!

This fear pops up in other ways too

Worrying about what other people think also comes up a lot when you have to present something, put yourself out there, or put your work out on display. And I’ve got something on that too.

The way I see it, say you have to present to a group of a hundred people. Sixty percent of the audience like what you have to say, 20% absolutely love it, 10% are indifferent and are in their own world, and the other 10% aren’t having a good time… You’re just not going to be able to please everyone. You can’t, and that’s okay.

And the reason is, we come from all walks of life, we’re inspired by different things, we have preferences, we have different interests, we’re at different phases in our lives.. some will click, and some won’t. So should that really stop you from doing your thing?

A new mantra to add to your collection

If this post has gently touched a nerve, here are some final words for you to marinate in:

“Move forward without fearing the possibility of being disliked”

It’s one of the most liberating things you could wrap your head around.

Now over to you. Have you struggled with doing something you want to do because you think someone’s watching and judging you? Did you go for it anyway? What strategies did you use to get yourself over the fence?

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