Do you feel like your performance is constantly scrutinized by those around you? Does the idea of having a slip send you into a consuming anxiety spiral? Then chances are you suffer from fear of being judged.
The fear of judgment by your environment for poor performance is genuine. It is a common characteristic in those suffering from Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD). That is why psychologists have studied and measured this feeling of “fear of negative evaluation.”
Does having a fear of being judged mean that you have SAD? Absolutely not! The fear of negative evaluation is more prominent in these individuals but could happen to anyone for shorter or longer periods.
So, how does the fear of being judged can affect your life? It is found that the fear of negative evaluation leads to poor performance under pressure, which further feeds the feeling, creating a vicious cycle of anxiety.
The anxiety it instigates leads to poor quality of life and unhealthy relationship dynamics. You enter a state of constant self-doubt and undermining your potential. There are also higher chances that you adopt people-pleasing habits and behaviors.
Let’s explore the reason that you might feel a fear of being judged and all the ways you can break the cycle of anxiety to lead a more authentic and confident life!
Why Do We Fear Being Judged?
There are several reasons why the fear of negative evaluation takes control of your life. Let’s explore some potential causes:
Holding yourself in low regard or feeling like you are not enough can make you believe you are worthy of people’s judgment.
Perfectionists are more likely to “fail” to achieve their high expectations. This can make them feel like a losing game, susceptible to reprimand and negative talk.
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)
Social anxiety disorder is a syndrome that may express an intense, persistent, and disproportionate fear of being judged in social circumstances. However, that is not all. SAD is diagnosed through a plethora of criteria.
Pro tip: If you suspect you might suffer from SAD, consult a healthcare provider.
Your fear of being judged may present as your brain’s response to overexposure to a demanding or judgmental environment. This could be your work office or even your family.
How To Overcome The Fear Of Being Judged
Mindfulness is a fantastic tool to bring you back from the wormhole of anxiety and restore your focus on the present reality. When negative thoughts of being judged consume you, take a five-minute mindfulness exercise.
You can try meditation and breathing techniques to train your brain to slow down, process stress in a relaxed way, and introduce positive thinking. You can also practice mindfulness whenever you go into a stressful situation, like a meeting or presentation.
Do A Quick Reality Check
Another way to dissolve intrusive thoughts of being judged is to stop their trajectory and do a quick reality check. Instead of feeding your anxieties with negative thinking, challenge your thoughts and put them in the right perspective.
Ask yourself questions like “Is my fear of being judged backed by a veritable reason, or is my reaction disproportionate to the situation? Is messing up or failing truly such a big deal – will I not be able to bounce back? What if people judge me – will it harm me truly that much?“
Repeat Self-Assuring Affirmations
Low self-esteem can worsen the fear of being judged. Instead of expecting confirmation from others, please give it to yourself. You can get yourself in front of a mirror or give yourself a warm hug and recite words of affirmation.
It’s natural that when you are feeling pessimistic and self-aware, these words won’t flow naturally. Focus on telling yourself what you want to be told to feel seen, appreciated, and held.
Use affirmations like, I am enough, I am doing the best I can, and that should be enough, I love myself and take care of myself in times of stress, I am the one that gives value to others’ opinions about me, etc.
Pro tip: You can write heartfelt affirmations on Post-it notes and stick them on your laptop or fridge. You can also record them on your phone and play the recording every morning or before a stress-inducing situation.
Change Your Self-Talk
Often, we become the harshest judges of ourselves. Our fear of being judged causes us to treat ourselves how we believe others would handle our “poor performance.”
Your internal dialogue runs things in the background of your head, dictating your mood and self-appreciation. Instead of letting it fester, shed some light on it and observe it. Looking at our judgmental self-talk can be hard and traumatizing, but it is important to let these thoughts go.
Allow them to release as they no longer serve you. Focus on being mindful of how you think about yourself. Practice self-acceptance, self-compassion, and self-love. Show yourself the respect it deserves.
Our worth is not determined by what others believe of us or how well we perform. We are worthy just because we are.
Use The “So What?” Method
Best-selling author Austin Kleon, in his book “Show Your Work!” suggests that before you share anything with others, you should run it through the “So What?” Test. He tells his readers, don’t overthink it; just go with your gut.
Although he speaks about sharing your work on social media, I find that this test can apply to anything. If your fear of being judged hinders you from sharing your work, completing a project, doing the things you like, or being yourself, ask, “So What?”.
The opinion of people who feel self-entitled to judge you should not occupy working space in your mind. So, what if they judge? Let them!
Do It Anyway
Taking risks is a vital part of living. Risks create progress and positive change. Even mistakes are a natural part of the process, leading to greater knowledge and self-improvement. Without trying, you will never change. Without erring, you will never learn.
If your fear of being judged keeps you from taking action, know that it seriously affects your potential. Everyone has the right to make mistakes and not have everything completely sorted out.
So, start before you are ready and do it anyway!
Understand That Perfection Is An Illusion
The pressure we put on ourselves is often higher than the one we receive from external sources. Our fear of being judged stems from high expectations of perfectionism that no one can meet.
Try to expel the false idea of perfectionism – it is all a matter of perspective. You might have produced something you consider top-notch, only to be viewed as mediocre by someone else.
Pro tip: Instead of expectations, try to set realistic goals. Make short-term, achievable plans that you will fall back on when you doubt your progress.
Instead of aiming for perfection, focus on giving your every task the best you can. Some days that will be 80%, others will be 50%. And that is okay!
Respect Yourself And Your Work
If you respect yourself and your work, you will never allow others to belittle or disregard you. You will stand up for yourself against any form of mistreatment.
Knowing you will always have your back no matter what will significantly alleviate your fear of being judged.
Find A Support Group
It is important to find a group of supportive people that will hold you when you get overwhelmed by your fear of being judged.
This group can consist of friends, family members, or coworkers. It is crucial that among these people, you’ll feel seen, heard, and understood. Inside this group, you’ll feel free to express yourself authentically without the fear of being judged.
Find people who will boost your mood and confidence, appreciate you for who you are, and share your importance to them.
Cut Judgmental People Out Of Your Life
Maybe your fear of being judged stems from a judgmental environment. These are people you do not feel safe around, who usually project their opinion on you, make comments you didn’t ask for, and be negative overall.
You’ll notice that you feel upset or anxious around them; you don’t want to show your true colors and generally like to avoid them.
You can have toxic, judgmental relationships with acquaintances, friends, or family members. Recognize that their voice is not your own and declutter them from your life.
Seek Professional Help
If you feel that your fear of being judged is too much to handle alone, you can always turn to a certified psychologist. Seeking help to improve your mental health is among the healthiest things you can do to take care of yourself.
Fighting The Fear Of Being Judged: Final Words
Do not allow the fear of being judged to prevent you from being the person you want to be and living your desired life! An authentic life is about the only way to live!
With these simple 11 steps, you can take the wheel and feel this fear become more manageable. However, progress does not look like a linear line. It has ups and downs.
Whenever you feel the fear of being judged retaking control, remind yourself of these simple facts:
- Your opinion of yourself matters more than anyone else’s.
- Judgy people usually have self-esteem problems of their own. They try to project them on you to make themselves feel better.