It’s one of the greatest fears that many people have. The fear of what other people think. It stops people in their tracks from sharing their creations, their thoughts, and even their opinions. Are you afraid of what other people think?
The greatest prison people live in is the fear of what other people think.David Icke
It’s one of those things that starts in childhood when that first person makes fun of or criticizes us. It starts to chip away at our self-confidence and makes us self-conscious the next time we want to or have to share something. Some are able to work past it, but many are not.
I used to have that fear and sometimes it still rears its ugly head. But I learned to work past my fear of speaking in public after doing a ton of work presentations as well as becoming a yoga teacher. Fear mastered. Does it mean I don’t ever get scared in those situations and wonder if people will like what I have to share? No! Does it mean that I’m prepared and feel confident in what I’m sharing? Yes!
Sharing myself through my blog was also a fear. The first blog I ever started was called Unfold and Evolve. I was so scared. Blogging is the place where I share the real me. My inside-my-head voice. That first post took me so long to publish. And you know what happened when I did? Absolutely nothing. No one read it.
My fear of being ridiculed was all in my head. But still, after a few weeks, I deleted the post. I was afraid that someone would read it. I was afraid that someone would think my blog name was pretentious. So I took it down. Took down the whole blog.
It would be a couple of years before I tried again. But in the meantime, I created a website for my husband’s chocolate shop. Then I created weekly emails and got in the habit of creating weekly content. After a couple of years, I was ready to try again.
In 2013, I created this blog and started posting again. Not weekly and no one was reading it but I was out there. Then I joined a couple of blogging groups and started getting read. But still, my family and friends didn’t know I was doing it. I was sharing with strangers who never met me.
September 2016 is when I first shared it with my family and friends. Three and a half years after I started. Almost three years since my brother died, and one year after my sister died. It was too late to ever share it with them. That’s what fear did to me. I can never get that back. I will never know what they thought. And that’s on me.
Sure you need to consider what other people might think and feel when you share something. It needs to be appropriate for the situation. It shouldn’t be hurtful to others. But you also can’t let that fear of what other people might think stop you in your tracks.
How to Move Past Your Fear
First, it’s helpful to remember that it’s just their opinion. Some people might not like what you have to share. And that’s OK. It really is. There are billions of people in this world. How are you going to make everyone like what you share? You can’t. If someone doesn’t like what you’re sharing, then it’s not for them. Other people will like it.
Remember, even if you made a mistake, everyone makes mistakes. Even that person who might be criticizing you. It’s impossible to be perfect. Don’t expect it of yourself and don’t expect it of others. All we can expect is to learn and grow from that mistake. Listen for the critiques that will help you move forward. Block out the negative feedback that doesn’t help anyone.
Give others a second chance. If someone messes up and shares something that’s wrong, withhold hurtful comments and try to provide positive suggestions on how to make it better next time. By doing that for others, you’re also more likely to feel that others will have the same attitude toward you.
Practice. Practice. Practice. In my very first work presentation, back when slides were used with overhead projectors, I tripped over the projector cord and my slides went flying. Before I even began, I had to pick up my slides and put them in order. But I didn’t run out of the room. I just did it. It wasn’t the greatest, but the next one was better. And I kept getting better.
The same was true of yoga teacher training. The first time I taught a pose in front of the class, it was just ok. There were mistakes that I made and I cringed when people started to provide feedback. But then I realized it was valuable information. And you know what? Everyone made mistakes. Of course we did, we were just learning. Those mistakes taught valuable lessons that weren’t forgotten. By the end of teacher training, I was much better and so was everyone else. And I taught multiple classes each week for almost 10 years.
It’s time to stop living in fear of what other people might think. Everyone has that fear, but don’t let it stop you from trying. And keep trying. Keep practicing. Keep getting it out there.