Blog 14 Written on the 30 July 2020
Tonight, a friend and I dived into a conversation about the fear of judgment. We were hanging out in the little weights section of our boxing gym. She was doing some deadlifts and I was doing my best impersonation of someone stretching after a run.
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.” – Lao Tzu
She is an intelligent, capable and strong wahine (woman), and I respect how she navigates this world as a grown up. A couple of days ago I put up a post on social media asking for input for an online course I am creating about “Overcoming Limiting Beliefs”. I wanted to know what questions people would like answered if they did such a course. The question that came up for her was, “How do you work through the fear of judgement?” I know many of us grapple with this. And it can stop us from trying new things or expressing ourselves in a way that feels authentic to us, or allowing ourselves to really live in the moment we are in, as we are afraid of what other people may say.
“We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.” Virginia Satir
A suggestion of how to work through and overcome your fear of judgment:
1. Dive into where this fear of judgment may have originated from, most of these sorts of things come from our pasts. Think back to where your fear started for you. Think back to the first time you felt that feeling come up for you. For my friend she recalls being a smart, talented 12-year-old, who could play a musical instrument, would happily get up on stage to perform and was a good little scholar. The people around her, who she looked up to and sought support from, were not supportive, instead, they used it against her. They made fun of her saying stuff like “You think you are so smart, hey?” and “You think you are better than us ’cos you play an instrument?” and so on. Her 12-year-old feelings were really hurt. Those feelings, when unresolved, stay with us.
2. Understand that memories are filed according to feelings. So, whenever we get into a similar situation in the future, even as adults, the same unresolved uncomfortable feelings we felt when we were little, come up. If we continue to use my friend’s example, whenever she puts herself out there now as an adult or goes to show her talents, she feels those same hurt and painful feelings come up.
3. Acknowledge, validate, and soothe your inner child. You can do that for yourself now. You do not need others to do it for you. Having an understanding, the things people say and do are reflections of their state of mind at the time they expressed their views. And if they don’t have the self-awareness, they allow their garbage thinking about themselves to spill over to those around them. They deflect subconsciously (and sometimes consciously too, I am giving them the benefit of the doubt here) – “If I am not feeling secure, and possibly a little jealous, I will make sure this young girl comes down a peg, too.” Validate your inner self, let her know she is a wonderful little individual, she is smart and talented and for her to let her light shine. Also make a promise to yourself now that you will continue to self-validate your inner child and promise you will continue to work on letting your light shine. It gets a little easier every time you step forward towards facing those uncomfortable feelings. And cultivate pride and acknowledgment for yourself in every moment that you do choose to let that light of yours shine.
4. The last step is realizing fear does not completely disappear; we just get better at looking it in the eye and standing our ground with it. By facing those fears regularly, we learn to control them and put tighter boundaries around them, we herd them into a sheep pen. If we don’t regularly maintain the wood/wire and locks of a sheep pen, they corrode and degrade, and those pesky sheep will get out. This is the same for our fears. We need to look after, nurture and grow our courage. This helps to keep the boundaries around our fears. And we need to keep doing this day by day. Keep going towards the fear of judgement; keep doing the things that make you feel uncomfortable and, possibly, judged. As the weeks, months and years pass, you will notice that other people’s thoughts and judgement will have less and less impact on you.
Please let your light shine.