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Fear of Judgment

I’m not really sure when we all start being worried about what other people may think or say, but I know that the fear of being judged is a huge roadblock to pursuing your dreams. A few weeks ago Seth Godin posted an entry titled: You will be judged (or you will be ignored).

When thinking about stepping outside of your comfort zone or trying something new, the first thing that held me back in the past was, “what would my parents/siblings/friends think about this;” “how would this look?” Strangely enough, I’m not the person who spends a lot of time and effort at keeping up appearances in general, but looking back, most of my career-based decisions were all about my fear of being judged. How would I introduce “what I do” at parties if I only did x.

Well, lo-and-behold, I was faced with addressing those fears this past weekend. I was in Denver for a 90th birthday bash seeing family and friends that I hadn’t seen in well over twenty years in some cases. Coupled with that kind of pressure, it was also the first big event since I’ve been out on my own full-time. I was a bit nervous the first time someone asked me what I did (my least favorite question in the world)… I explained how I help people fall in love with their job through coaching and consulting, and held my breath. Her response was completely opposite of everything I feared – instead, she was oohing and ahhing telling me who could use my services and asking for a card to follow my site. And that same trend occurred throughout the party. Don’t get me wrong, there were a few skeptics and “there there’s,” but overall, I was met with support. The fear of judgment that I created in my head was a hundred times worse than it ended up being in reality.

What fears are holding you back from going after the job or life, that you want?

Being more concerned with what other people think about our choices or our actions, is strange – why would someone else’s internal thoughts be more important than honoring our own desires? It sounds odd when laid out like that, huh?

The problem when we make decisions either out of fear or to avoid fear, we are not being true to who we are or the path in life we are meant to take. Fear of being judged holds us back and stops us from even considering so many of life’s options. And the funny thing is, once you actually do the things that you’re fearful of, you are so proud of yourself, that others’ opinions don’t even matter. It feels like basking in your own glow when others challenge you or naysay your efforts – in my mind I’m thinking, “wow, that’s great motivation to prove you wrong.” Outwardly I try to respond with kind words: “Thank you for your opinion; I am quite passionate/in love/etc. about this project. I wish you the best in finding something that you find such joy in as well.”

It took me over 30 years to realize that the only person whose judgments mattered, were my own – interesting concept, especially as we are all harder on ourselves than others can be. But I also realized, that I’d rather have people talking about me or judging my actions, than “being ignored” aka – never having set-out to do the very thing I was fearful of to begin with. There are still some projects or ideas that are sitting on the shelf right now because I am fearful they are not polished enough yet; they are too intimate; they are too exposing; I’m not ready to be judged, but I’m ok with them being ignored (for now).

What fears are holding you back from going after the job or life, that you want? What career move are you secretly wishing you took; what experience are you too fearful to try? Are you ready to push the fear of what others think about you aside, to find your inner happiness and flourish on your own terms?

0 comments

Gary Yuen - July 26, 2012 Reply

great post. Congrats on getting over the fear of being judged, it’s something that we all fear and a hard habit to break

melissalywc - July 26, 2012 Reply

Thanks Gary! It is still sometimes a work in progress, but it’s absolutely a habit that’s breakable! And frees you up to so many new opportunities. 

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