Journal to Overcome the Fear of Judgment
Have you ever found yourself:
- Not putting your hand up in class when you knew the answer
- Not telling someone how you felt about them
- Not quitting the job you dreaded showing up to every day
- Not asking for the raise you knew you deserved
- Not sticking up for someone who was being gossiped about in a group setting
If one of these examples strikes a chord with you, you’re not alone. The truth is, we all desire to be liked. It’s part of human nature to desire social approval. In fact, our ancestors relied on this need to belong in social groups for survival. But this mental programming that tells us we should be liked and accepted by everyone can cause us to fear being judged and ultimately, come as a cost to our confidence and wellbeing.
When we are afraid of judgment, it causes us to conform to societal norms, sacrificing our true, authentic selves. It causes us to believe that there's a right way and a wrong way to show up in this world. And when we hear that someone perceives us in a way that conflicts with how we want to show up, our immediate response is to mask who we are rather than focusing on who we want to be.
But the reality is, no matter what we do, no matter how hard we try to please, we will be judged. Although this might leave a bitter taste in your mouth, think about the people you don’t like (I'm sure you can name a few). We are all in the same boat... being judged and judging others.
So, we fear judgment, we do what we can to prevent it (and that usually means not being our authentic selves), and yet, we will be judged regardless. This paradox ultimately leads to pain. We feel pain when we hear that we are viewed in a negative light. We feel pain when we try so hard to be liked and we still aren't. We feel pain when we aren’t our true authentic selves.Preventing judgment is a game you cannot win. So, how do you overcome it?
I’m not here to tell you that you should just embrace negative judgments from others… it would be delusional to just get over it and not have an emotional response. It sucks and it hurts to be judged but rather than getting caught up in the struggle trap of trying to win likes and not succeeding, you can rest in the knowledge that it’s not a reflection of who you are.
Overcoming the fear of judgment is a process. You can go about shifting your mindset with the tips below and a little help from journaling…
5 Ways to Change Your Mindset About Being Judged
#1 Take ownership of who you are
When you fully own your strengths and weaknesses, what people say about you will not affect you as much. You need to become confident in your skills and abilities so that when they are challenged by someone else, you’ll be able to brush it off. You also need to accept your weaknesses. When you try to resist and mask your weaknesses, there's a much larger emotional impact. You may experience shame or embarrassment about not being good in a certain area. Rather than trying to be good at something you're not, take ownership of the fact that you aren’t, and you won’t feel nearly as self-conscious. By taking ownership, what others think won’t matter because you know who you are better than anyone else.
Journal prompts to help you take ownership of who you are:
- Who are you?
- What are your values?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What is important to you?
#2 Remember, an opinion is just that - an opinion
We all have opinions, even you! Our opinions are formed based on our beliefs and perceptions of others so basically, they have nothing to do with who they are and instead have everything to do with how we choose to experience this world.
Our opinions are also fleeting. Do you spend time thinking about people you don’t like? Probably not. So if you’re scared that someone doesn’t like you and that happens to be the case, they probably spend very little time thinking about you.
When you come to recognize that others' opinions have nothing to do with you and most people aren't actually thinking about you, the faster you will be able to shrug it off. At the end of the day, if someone has developed a negative perception of you, it was probably a result of minimal information they gathered from a brief interaction with you or from someone else. It’s safe to say that an opinion does not define who you are.
Journal prompts to help you let go of others’ opinions:
- How is this one microscopic opinion impacting you?
- What is it stopping you from doing? (i.e. applying to that job you’ve always wanted or finally going to the gym)
- How is it causing you to behave?
- Is assigning so much weight and value to it worth it in the grand scheme of things? Why or why not?
#3 Judge others less
When you are judging others, it’s a reflection of how you feel about yourself. To make ourselves feel better and diminish our insecurities, we project our judgments about ourselves onto the people around us. If you find yourself judging others often, you most likely tend to experience a more intense emotional response when you experience judgment from others. Essentially, if you judge people less, the less you will internalize and be attuned to judgments from others.
Journal prompts to help you judge others less:
- Who do you find yourself judging the most?
- What qualities are they demonstrating?
- Why do these qualities irritate or annoy you?
- How does judging them make you feel about yourself?
#4 Recognize that others focus more on themselves
I mentioned this briefly before but I will say it again: people spend more time worrying about what others think about them than judging you! More often than not, your beliefs about how others view you are self-invented.
It's essential to become mindful of these thoughts so that you can instead shift them to thoughts that serve you.
Journal prompts to help realize your beliefs are often not fact:
- What do I believe others are judging me for? Is my fear that people perceive me this way true? Is it based on facts or fiction?
- Describe your inner critic. When you look in the mirror, what do you say about yourself? How does this make you feel and behave? Is what you're saying true? How might you shift your thinking to thoughts that support and embrace your true authentic self?
#5 You can control your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors
It comes down to you when it comes to responding to judgments. Inevitably, we will all be judged at some point in our lives. We need to let go of these fears, accept that we can choose how we respond, and be resilient in the process of overcoming the pain these perceptions can sometimes inflict. Rather than trying to prevent things that are bound to happen, you can accept what you can and cannot control while still being yourself throughout the process.
Journal prompts for focusing on what you can control:
- What does this judgment say about me? Is it even true?
- Do they have concrete evidence to back this up? Is it true in every single case?
- Is preventing one person’s judgment worth the sacrifice of living an authentic life?
- Will I choose to give this judgment power over my life?
Let go of pleasing and start being
While I was writing this article, I came across a post on Instagram that said, “Don’t stop shining to please other people.” Overcoming the fear of judgment takes time and practice but it’s so worth it. You have an incredible light to share with this world and hiding who you truly are will only prevent so many people from benefiting from it. Your true authentic self deserves to shine.
Written by Guest Author, Hailey Rodgers