Fear of Judgement – What If They Really ARE Judging You?
Imagine walking down a busy street. You see a group of people, two men and two women, up ahead. As you get closer they burst into laughter.
What’s your first thought?
If you have social anxiety, there’s a good chance you’ll assume they are laughing at you.
This is probably followed by a debate between the insecure and logical parts of your brain…
“They’re laughing at me!”
“Of course they aren’t, don’t be silly.”
“Maybe you’re right…but I think one of them looked at me strangely…”
“Why would they be laughing at you? You’re just walking down the street!”
In a situation like this, the most common advice is to ignore the insecure part of your brain. People usually aren’t judging you, so there’s no point worrying about it. And this is true – most of the time.
But what if the other person is judging you? Or that group across the street really are laughing at you?
What to do if someone is silently judging you
Despite what our brain tells us, most people are generally nice. If they think negatively of you they often won’t say anything. Many people won’t let it affect their behaviour either.
But if you’re sure someone to silently judging you, what should you do?
First of all, we need to understand what a fear of judgement is really about.
This fear, in most cases, is a reflection of our own insecurities. We tend to judge other people based on what we think is acceptable or embarrassing – and we judge ourselves by the same criteria.
So when you fear someone is judging you, what you’re really doing is judging yourself AND the other person.
- You assume you’ve done something that is going to cause a negative judgement. This is a reflection of your own fears.
- You assume the other person feels the same way about that action and will also judge you. This is a projection of your own thoughts onto someone else.
Of course, these two assumptions are often incorrect.
We also judge people based on half truths and incomplete information
For example, you might see a couple sitting in silence at a restaurant and think “how awkward!”
But the couple might feel differently. They may be comfortable sitting quietly together. Or maybe they enjoy eating in silence so they can focus on the tasty food.
Whatever the reason, we judge people by constructing a reality we think exists in our mind. But this is just our interpretation of reality – and everyone has their own.
Also, think about how long your judgements last. Do you continue to think about them for days after? Or are they formed quickly and then forgotten?
For most minor events, judgements are easily forgotten
It’s natural to form a snap opinion. It’s also natural to forget them.
What does this mean if you are being judged though?
By being aware of how quickly you form judgements – and how meaningless they are – you can start to change your view about whether silent judgement from other people really matters.
Judgements which aren’t acted upon don’t mean anything. They are quickly formed – and even more quickly forgotten. You know this when you judge other people and there’s no reason to think anyone judging you is different.
People will judge you. It’s a fact of life. And the more you put yourself out there, the more you will be judged.
But these judgements don’t really exist. They aren’t concrete in any way. They are nebulous…fleeting…and easily forgotten.
So why dwell on them?
Of course, silent judgements are one thing…
But judgements spoken out-loud can be more difficult to handle
If someone is constantly putting you down…telling you you’re lazy, boring or too quiet…
Then the simplest answer is that this person doesn’t deserve to be part of your life.
I’m not saying you should immediately stop seeing them. You should talk to them about their constant judgements first. But if they refuse to change, or just don’t seem to be able to stop, then you probably need to cut them out of your life.
It sounds harsh…
But there are billions of kind people out there. Life is too short to be around someone putting you down – especially when you’re trying to overcome social anxiety.
What if you can’t stop seeing them though?
There are certain people who you can’t stop spending time with. In this case you have several options.
The first is to minimise contact with them as much as possible.
Second, try to remember that this person’s judgements are based on their own insecurities. They don’t mean anything – and they don’t exist in any real way if you don’t let them affect you.
So let’s summarise this article.
- Most of the time people aren’t judging you. And when they are, they are almost never judging you as harshly as you do yourself.
- Our judgements are usually based on our own insecurities or fears. They are also formed with assumptions and are quickly forgotten.
- If our own judgements are like this, there’s no reason to think other people’s judgements are just as meaningless.
- If someone expresses their judgements to you, either directly or via their actions, they don’t deserve to be part of your life.
So next time you hear someone laugh in the street…it’s true that they might be laughing at you. But this judgement isn’t a real thing, and it’s quickly forgotten. It certainly shouldn’t be something you allow to affect you.
I’m not saying this mindset shift is easy. It’s not. But understanding what judgements really are can help to overcome the hold they have on your life.