So you’re standing there, frozen in fear of being judged, thinking, “Ok Judgey McJudgerson with the eyes peering, opinion ready to jump out, not to mention the total lack of understanding”. What will they think? What will they say?
A fear of judgment is quite common in business owners. Unfortunately, being worried about what people think or say holds them back from promoting their business as it deserves.
What sits behind the fear of judgement?
It differs for each of us but there are some common themes. Perhaps you can identify yourself in them?
Need for acceptance or to fit in
Humans are social creatures. We find safety in numbers. So it’s not surprising that we look for others to accept us, for our tribe. What happens when we’ve experienced rejection in the past? We can fear putting ourselves out there for fear of judgment, ridicule or rejection.
So the safest way to avoid being judged is to keep people happy. Right? Well, if it was the safest way for you to stay safe then there’s a good chance that you’ve learnt to associate safety and people-pleasing.
Not good enough
Honestly, the most common reason people are afraid of being judged is that they feel/believe that they are not enough:
– not good enough
– not smart enough
– not cheap enough
– not doing enough
– not ‘whatever’ enough
We worry that we won’t meet the expectations of others and will be judged because we don’t meet some expectations.
How to let go of the fear of judgment
So you now know some of the things that could be sitting behind your fear of judgment, now what? How do you get past this fear and start living and promoting your business like you know it deserves?
Understanding what triggers your fear
Is there a particular circumstance, time, behaviour, state of health/mind that sees you wondering and fearing that others are judging you? Is it when you promote your business? Is it when you announce your achievements to friends or family? Is it just before you hit send on that big proposal?
Understanding what sets off your fear of judgment can then allow you to consider outsourcing, tools, and/or techniques to help/remove the trigger.
Why do you care?
To understand how to let go, you need to understand why you care if others judge you. Earlier I spoke about what sits behind the fear, did any of it sound familiar? Do you know why it sounds familiar? Understanding why we think a certain way can help us change our thinking patterns.
The other part to this is ‘why do you care if people judge you?’ We all judge. Often, we assume what others are thinking based on a number of things and we often get it wrong.
As my kids entered schooling, they became conscious of what other people might think of them. I used to ask them, “do you know the truth?”. It reinforced to them that if they know the truth, even if someone was to judge them, it didn’t matter because they know the truth about themselves or what happened. This continues on to the fact that we often judge based on incorrect information. It also put the control back into their own hands, reminding them that as long as they thought well of themselves, what others thought didn’t matter.
It’s surprising how little they think of you
“A study done by the National Science Foundation claims that people have, on average, 50,000 plus thoughts a day. This means that even if someone thought about us ten times in one day, it’s only 0.2% of their overall daily thoughts. It’s a sad but simple truth that the average person filters their world through their ego, meaning that they think of most things relating to “me” or “my.” This means that unless you’ve done something that directly affects another person or their life, they are not going to spend much time thinking about you at all.” Sean Kim — How to Stop Giving a F**k What People Think.
It’s pretty incredible to think how little someone will actually think of us in the course of the day, not to mention how many of those thoughts are actually negative. Perhaps there’s some truth in that we think too much of ourselves and in reality others really don’t think of us very often, if at all.
Why do you believe that others are judging you?
Why do you believe that others are judging you? Was it something you experienced often? Are you just your won worst enemy? You now know how seldom people actually think of you.
“Shame is how we see ourselves through other people’s eyes.” Brené Brown – I thought it was just me.
Perhaps this Brene is right, perhaps it’s shame.
Stop placing your self-worth in the hands of others
So if it’s shame, if you believe that others are thinking often and poorly of you, if you do care what others think – why are you placing your worth in the hands of others? Do you think so little of yourself? Do you not trust yourself? Were you not allowed to value, care for, and encourage yourself and your abilities?
If you can not see your own worth; how do you expect others, including staff and clients, to see it?
How do you feel about being vulnerable? In her research, Brené Brown uncovered that the clear antidote to shame, poor self-worth and a fear of judgment was to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is not a weakness, it’s a strength, it’s courageous.
Being vulnerable allows us to connect to others, to be seen as we truly are, to be human. These are all things we need. Being vulnerable allows us to see others as they are, not as we believe or want them to be. Being vulnerable allows us to see ourselves as others see us, this is evident in how they react.
While vulnerability can invite criticism, I want to remind you of the previous section of not putting your self-worth in the hands of others – especially those who can not use compassion in response to your vulnerability, they are not your people.
Stop criticising yourself
The research of Brené has recently been extended and supported by a team from the University of Mannheim to include self-compassion. The team discovered that self-compassion was a factor, alongside vulnerability, to overcoming the fear of judgment.
Personally, I think that we lose the ability for self-compassion as we replay the story that others are judging us. The more we hear a story, the more we believe it. Wouldn’t it be amazing, especially since we know how seldom people do actually think of us, if we shut off the story and instead extended ourselves compassion and kindness (you know, those things we readily give to others)?
People judge against their values, beliefs, fears, and limitations
So we now know that people really aren’t even thinking about us, let alone judging us (not to mention how many of them are battling their own demons), I want you to consider where their judgment is coming from when it does come.
Longtime readers will know that we all have our own drivers: fears, needs, beliefs, values, goals. So when we judge someone we do it against our own personal yardstick – our drivers. This is where we all come from in our thoughts and our actions, including when we judge. So when others are judging you, they are coming from their fears, needs, beliefs, values, and goals.
Perhaps they fear that you will change, fear that they’re not good enough, need something from you, need you to stay as you are, believe that they couldn’t do what you’re doing, believe that you can’t do it … In all honesty, you are never likely to know or understand where they’re coming from when the do judge you. Just understand that they are speaking from their perspective – and you know the truth.
What are your values?
Time and again I see that our values are key to driving our behaviour to achieve our goals. They keep us on track and they keep us in line with behaving as the person we know and want to be. Do you know what your core values are? When we know what our core values are, we are less likely to be influenced by others or worse what we think others might think of us.
I hope these hints have helped you to let go of your fear of judgment. If you’ve found any other tips that have helped, I’d love to add them to the list, please leave it in a comment below.