Have you ever met a person who seems to be fully themselves no matter what anyone else thinks? Have you secretly wished you could be more like that person - doing what they want, going for what they want in life, not caring if someone doesn't like them or what they do?
For some of us though, we deeply fear what others might say about us. Constructive feedback is the thing of nightmares. Even the thought of someone not liking us can ruin our mood for a week. Fears of people talking negatively about us is enough to keep us up worrying most every night. We can sometimes even acknowledge that the fears aren't rational. But why is the fear still there?
Below are a few reasons behind why we have so much fear about what others think and say about us.
1. It confirms what we already believe about ourselves
Our cognitions, or thoughts, shape our reality. Have you ever heard of confirmation bias? Well, it can happen with our thoughts and what we think will happen. Simply put, if we think negatively about ourselves, then our mind makes the biased connection between how we think about ourselves and how other people will think about us. For example, if you constantly think about all the things that are 'wrong' about you, then you very well might believe others are thinking about that as well.
2. We worry about fitting in with others and fear being excluded
Fear is a powerful thing, and most humans want desperately to fit in. This can show up in different ways, from fitting in with workplace colleagues, to classmates, to social clubs, to sports teams. For some of us, doubting that we fit in, even if by an outside perspective we do fit in, can be overwhelming. This can happen frequently with those that have been bullied and left out of social situations in the past.
3. Social anxiety
Anxiety in social situations is common. In fact, anxiety disorders are the number one mental health disorder in the US currently. Social situations can trigger anxiety, which sometimes causes people to feel embarrassed to be in social situations again because both the fear of the anxiety and it being noticed by others. Symptoms like sweating, shaky voice, flushing, etc. can be very embarrassing to experience, not to mention uncomfortable for the sufferer. Those that have social anxiety can believe that they're either not good at socializing or that others don't like them.
These are just three reasons why we might fear what others might say or think about us. And in my next blog, I'll be writing about how CBT is effective in fearing negative feedback and why we fear what others might say or think about us.