It’s a very common affliction, one I’ve suffered from myself… feeling judged by other people and the associated embarrassment.
It’s something that’s almost certainly keeping your career stalled. You’re constantly worrying about what others will think about you – what you’re saying or what you’re doing.
It’s a fear, and the fear is real. It’s one of the primary reasons you might be stuck doing things you think you “should” be doing. You want to do something but in your head you’re thinking… “What will my [colleagues, peers, family or friends] [think or say] if I do that?”.
It’s showed up for me time and again throughout my career… and, I confess, it still happens. When I started my business I was literally terrified of being judged. Every time I posted on social media, asked people to visit my website, or did anything even vaguely promotional, I felt a little bit sick.
And, from my conversations with so many others over the years, fear of judgement is something that affects us all in a range of situations at some point in our lives.
Here’s what you need to know about judgement…
Our concerns about how others will think about us stems from our desire to fit in.
Research shows our need to belong is “the fundamental social motive” that underpins most human behaviour. You want others to see you as competent, attractive, interesting and impressive. Negative opinions make you feel bad… like you’re not good enough.
The problem is that even if you do everything in your power to stop others judging you… guess what, you can’t stop them thinking what they’re going to think.
You are going to be judged by others… and, sometimes that judgement will hurt. But even more likely is those “others” are not thinking about you at all. Oooh, that stings a little be too, right?
So clearly, to get unstuck, to make a change, or to do something significant, you need to give up worrying about what “others” are going to think… and yes, this includes your nearest and dearest and those unidentified strangers taking up space in your head.
“What other people think of you is not your business. If you start to make that business your business, you will be offended for the rest of your life.”Deepak chopra
How to overcome your fear of being judged
1. NOTICE YOUR OWN JUDGEMENT
Let’s be real, we’re all guilty of passing judgement, but have you considered the person you’re judging might also fear being judged? Maybe they have a good reason for what they’ve done that doesn’t warrant your judgement. And, here’s a thought… your fear of being judged might come from how much you judge others. So, reducing judgement might decrease your own fear of being judged. Judge less, fear less.
2. BECOME INDIFFERENT TO WHAT OTHERS THINK
Opinions are like belly buttons – everyone has one. Don’t waste your time caring what others think, because their opinions are based on their own values, beliefs, and insecurities. They’re entitled to their thoughts, just as you’re entitled to yours. When you care about what others think, you hand them the power to define who you are. Be responsible for your own thoughts and actions, and remember that other people’s reactions are about them, not you.
3. BEWARE OF YOUR NOISY INNER CRITIC
Remember we all have a human tendency towards negativity bias. So don’t let your negativity bias control your thoughts! When you worry about being judged, is it really true or is it your own self-doubt? You may be assuming whatever negative thoughts you’re having about yourself will be reflected by those around you. Challenge that negative inner voice and don’t give it power without evidence.
4. SEEK FEEDBACK FROM THOSE YOU RESPECT
Judgement and negative opinions are different from constructive and critical feedback. You need these in order to develop, grow and progress. But, not all feedback is created equal. Seek constructive criticism from those whose opinions you respect and who have expertise in your field. Ask yourself, “Is this person an expert?” and “Do they have my best interests at heart?” If the answer is no, find someone else.
5. BE AN EXPERT ABOUT “YOU”
Know yourself and fear judgment no more. Tapping into your self-awareness is helpful for conquering your fear of judgement. Acknowledge your unique strengths, skills, and accept your limitations, these things are who you are. Don’t let others make up their own version about you. Take control of your story and be the foremost expert on yourself.
Your career success relies on you releasing the need for external validation.
Know you’re ready to change or up-level your working life but stuck getting started? I’d love to help! In the self-paced online course, Recharge Your Career, I’ll show you how to deal with the fear of judgement and any other fears that are in the way of designing a working life that works for you.