In this blog series I will be discussing the three most common fears that often keep people stagnant from taking the next step to improve their lives: 1. fear of being judged (which I will talk about in this blog post), 2. fear of the unknown, and 3. fear of losing control. These fears often prevent you from making decisions and taking action that would likely result in a positive outcome. Throughout the years of being a therapist in private practice, I’ve seen that these are common repetitive themes among clients.
It’s Scary to Feel Judged
“Am I making the right decision?” “What will others think?” When we are afraid of what others think about us, it can certainly make us feel unsure of ourselves. That fear of being looked at in a negative way makes us question every decision, be worried we’ll make the wrong choice, or regret that we already have done those things. When you are repeatedly met with a lack of approval, you are at risk of losing self-worth, self-value, and self-trust. Your first instinct is to make decisions based on other people’s opinions and not what’s true to yourself. You end up tiptoeing that line of doing things for others as opposed to yourself and your own needs. You become stagnant, procrastinate, and neglectful of your own priorities. You lose sight of what’s actually important to you.
When your decisions are not based on your own values, beliefs, and priorities, your life isn’t your own anymore. It holds you back from making confident decisions and you spend most of your time worrying, rather than doing. You doubt everything you do and lose sight of who you are and what you care about.
Sometimes that deep rooted fear comes from how we view ourselves. It may have started with external criticism, but when we become too hard on ourselves, it leads to self-doubt, low self-esteem, and a lack of confidence. Do you often feel like you’re never good enough? When you are afraid of failing and disappointing yourself, you end up feeling stuck. Positive change and growth only happen when we allow ourselves to fail and make mistakes. We have to accept the outcome, learn from it, and not judge ourselves for trying.
Criticism Will Always Exist
We will never be able to eliminate feedback from self or others, so we need to accept that criticism will always exist. Rather than thinking criticisms are negative, shift your mindset to either let it go if it’s not helpful, or if it is helpful and useful, then take the opportunity to learn and grow from it. Use that criticism, don’t fear it. If someone repeatedly gives you unhelpful or disrespectful criticism, you can tell them that (especially if it is outside of the context of work). While you can’t control how they respond, you can decide how you interact with them moving forward. Just don’t give them control of your thoughts and actions.
It’s often the unknown of what others think that is scary. We imagine what others will say or think, rather than living in the present, and end up making decisions based on how we think others will react. Any time we make a decision, there are unknowns ahead of us. We can either make decisions based on our own thoughts and values, or make decisions based on what others think or prefer. But either way, we’ll never be able to control the future. As part of this blog series, the next blog post will be about fear of the unknown where I will talk more about letting go of trying to predict the future which further feeds into stagnation.
Learn to Start Trusting Yourself
If you are struggling with anxiety and being judged, therapy can help you learn to trust your instincts and believe in yourself. If you live in New York or Florida, Dr. Heather Violante offers online therapy so you can feel better and improve your life.