How many times have you stopped yourself from taking an action just because you were worried what others will think of you?
Even though you knew that the action will help you, you hesitated at the best, and retreated at the worst.
Today, I am going to share with you what you can do to move past this fear.
1. Know that you are not alone
Human beings are social animals. It is in our DNA to comply with the guidelines of the pack for our own safety. That’s because in ancient times, if you didn’t abide by the rules, you got killed.
The problem these days is that we no longer have such grave dangers right in front of us, but our wiring hasn’t changed. We still think about what is expected of us, what others think about us, and then stay within the boundaries of what it considered “normal”.
So if you feel defeated every time you don’t take an action because of this fear, cut yourself some slack. You are not alone, neither are you weak in thinking this way. It is what is expected from most human beings.
That being said, you already know this is hurting you. So how do we re-calibrate our thinking?
2. Embrace your uniqueness
There is nobody else in this world who is exactly like you. Neither has there ever been not will there ever be. And that’s what makes you so special.
Your strengths and flaws, your likes and dislikes, your silliness and your quirks – that’s what creates you! That combination is like none other. Appreciate that as a precious gift you are born with.
You may not like some aspects of your personality, and that’s OK. But it’s the complete package. You have that for a reason – to learn, grow, and help others. Shying away from your own gifts is like stealing the world of a great opportunity.
Accept yourself just the way you are. Because if you want others to accept you, you have to first accept yourself.
Then take it a step further, and embrace your uniqueness. It is only then you are going to discover how you can make a real difference in this world using your innate talents.
So let go of all inhibitions, and be grateful for everything that makes you, you.
3. Understand that people really don’t care in the long term
This is the truth. Everybody is so involved in their own life, that they don’t have time to care about you. If they say something at first, that’s only because they need entertainment. Once you go about your way and it becomes routine, they will stop talking because they stop thinking about it. It’s no longer “gossip”, now it’s just another incident. Who cares?
I have heard people making fun of or criticizing Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam’s hair, President Lincoln’s looks and height, and Barakha Datt’s outspoken commentary. But is that what these people stand for now? No! They have made an impact on millions of people through their work and life, and that’s their legacy.
If they wouldn’t have come out of their shell worrying about what others might think, we would have never benefited from the work and teachings of these great leaders.
The point is people will eventually stop gossiping. Those who don’t are the people that you shouldn’t care about in the first place. They are not going to come to help you when you need it.
You need to rise above the gossip, because you are here to do something much better than that.
4. Change your company
The concept is simple: If you don’t want negativity, move away from it. Go away from people who gossip, complain, and blame others for their actions.
There are many people out there who see others for who they truly are, and honor that. Find such people, and spend time with them regularly.
You may find them in local organizations like Toastmasters, and Meet-ups. However, these days, many quality connections are made online. There are Facebook Groups, LinkedIn and Twitter communities, and online forums for a variety of interests. Participate in those, see which ones match your wavelength and goals, and then continue hanging out in the select few.
Staying in the company of inspiring, supportive, and open-minded individuals is the best you can do to maintain your mental and emotional hygiene.
5. Imagine what could be
I know, you feel that you cannot do it yet, but what would happen if you could?
Will you feel liberated? Will it start a journey you have always wanted to take? Will you feel accomplished or happy once it’s out of the way? Will it open new opportunities for you? What might they be?
I am a big fan of living in the present. But sometimes, you need to visualize your satisfying, rewarding, and happy future in order to give yourself a nudge to step in the right direction.
Make your pictures so vivid that you simply cannot afford not to make them a reality.
Every time, I hesitate to stand up and dance in the crowd worrying if I will look stupid, I briefly imagine how free and energetic I feel when I dance. That pretty much does the trick. I am usually ready to get my moves on by the time the next song comes up. 🙂
Now the next two points are beneficial in the long run. They are not instant remedies, but in fact the most powerful ones in building a resilient mindset.
6. Gratitude practice
If you know me or have followed me for some time, you already know what a big fan I am of the attitude of gratitude. I even do an annual series of “11 Days of Thanksgiving” in November on our Facebook page to really remind myself of my big blessings which I received in that year.
Why should gratitude be your attitude?
Because it brings an instant shift in your thoughts. You switch your attention from what’s scary, what’s worrisome, and what’s missing to what’s exciting, what’s reassuring, and what’s abundant RIGHT NOW.
You are not thinking about the next day, or the next month, or the next year. You focus on what’s working for you, right here, right now. And that awareness is powerful. It puts every challenge in perspective. Over time, you start seeing a pattern of what really matters to you. When you know that, you will soon figure out that what really matters to you is doing what you feel you need to do. Worrying what others think of your actions has no place in your life.
Gratitude provides you that inner strength, and assurance to not be bothered by that which you don’t have much control over. In short, it builds up your confidence.
Many people are just scared at the thought of meditation. They already start feeling anxious by just hearing the word because it has a connotation of some old sage with a long beard and closed eyes, sitting still in Himalaya for ages.
Well, don’t let that stereotype fool you. Meditation is a tool to stop the chatter – around and within you, and cherish the silence.
Silence imparts insights, inspiration, and intuition – not the chatter.
You can start by simply bringing 5 minutes of silence in life every day. In that time, do not talk, switch off all the devices, and any other distractions for your 5 senses. You don’t even have to close your eyes. Just sit still.
If sitting still is also too much for you, just observe something that provides comfort e.g. a plant, or garden, or your pet. Don’t think about it, just observe. e.g. If you are looking at a plant on a table, just observe it’s green leaves, maybe the beauty of the pot, maybe a flower or a scent coming from it. In the process, if you notice that you forgot to water it, just let that thought go. Don’t mull over that. Continue noticing and feeling the comfort and beauty.
When you get into the habit of doing this, increase the frequency to 2-3 times a day. Start doing do it when you feel stressed.
Then if you feel ready, start closing your eyes. Same thing, don’t think. If a thought comes to your mind, just let it flow.
You can gradually move to trying a variety of methodical ways to meditate, until you find the one you like. Here’s my favorite app for the meditation soundtracks if you want to try that out. (I don’t get paid to recommend this. I use it personally, and I like it so I am sharing it with you. 🙂 )
Meditation silences the chatter of the mind. Chatter is the root of all our thoughts – good and bad ones. But what we often need is to move away from those thoughts, and just let them pass.
You will see, over time (not a long time either, just in a week or two) with meditation, you will start seeing the bigger picture more clearly. You will feel like you are more in control of your actions (and you will be) because you will start seeing with clarity what matters and what doesn’t.
And just like gratitude, that also develops resilience.
And remember this, you need gratitude and meditation the most, on the days when you feel you have nothing to be thankful for or your mind is experiencing an unstoppable whirlwind. Do NOT skip it on those days!
These are the 7 techniques that I use to stress less over how my actions are perceived by others, and instead, take the action that I think, is right for me. It allows me to forge my own path that rewards me, teaches me new lessons, and most importantly, liberates me by allowing me to be more of who I am. I hope these techniques prove useful to you as well.
What do you think?
What’s holding you back right now? Which of these tips do you want to try, to get over that block? Share in the comments.
If you have any questions, let me know that as well. I will be happy to help you move forward.