How To Overcome The Fear Of Being Judged By Others
We don't always manage to let criticism slip away. What they think about us weighs a ton. How to overcome the fear of judgment?
We don’t always manage to let criticism slip away. What they think about us weighs a ton. How to overcome the fear of judgment? To look your best, to make a good impression, to have the approval of others is a common desire for all. It is part of one’s genetic heritage and is explained by the evolution that human beings have undergone over time.
Seeking appreciation and acceptance from others, from the circle of acquaintances and affections, from society in general is natural. And this is where the fear of rejection comes from and why the fear of judgment from others must be overcome, without it conditioning or immobilizing one’s actions.
When other people judge us, anxiety increases. Under normal conditions, levels are under control. However, there are cases in which the intensity increases, especially when we have to demonstrate our skills in front of an audience, real or figurative, intent on observing. Those who cannot handle the pressure feel oppressed and look for ways to escape.
To overcome fear of judgment from others, or states of nervousness in general, in some cases diversions are sought. The use of anxiolytics, alcohol or soft drugs reduce anxiety levels: they are taken preventively, but also after a particularly demanding event. However, they are solutions that are harmful to health and have a limited effect over time, so they cannot represent real and definitive solutions.
Moreover, there are some behaviors that protect against direct criticism and which are also quite well known and easy to identify. There are those who put their hands over their faces to cover it during a discussion, those who agree with their interlocutor in order not to express their opinion on a specific topic. Even these, however, are counterproductive strategies. They don’t help overcome anxiety, rather they strengthen it and strengthen the conviction of being inadequate in those who feel it.
The fear of being judged is central to suffering from social anxiety disorder. Experts say it’s not just about being shy, but living in the constant feeling of receiving criticism from the other. He always has the feeling of being watched, even in everyday life. Even those affected by a deviant personality disorder have this fear, but it happens in more numerous and varied contexts. The so-called avoidants do not seek social inclusion, but the exact opposite: a sense of alienation.
Fear of judgment is also known to those with narcissistic personality disorder. Contempt for other people is an expression of a deep and ingrained sense of inadequacy. Being appreciated becomes fundamental to self-esteem. Speaking of which, here’s how to deal with a narcissist . Furthermore, even the very fact of having a psychological or psychiatric problem becomes a reason for shame and fear that contempt for others may arise.
Overcoming fear of judgement, experts say, can go through a cognitive behavioral approach. It consists in the election to work on a hardship. We usually start by assessing the origins and intensity of the problem.
In the next step, you become aware of the thoughts that underlie the fear of criticism from others and learn to monitor them. You acquire some tools to manage anticipatory anxiety, the one that arises before the dreaded event occurs. Then we act on the situational one, with strategies aimed at accepting the hypothetical judgment of others. Finally, one gradually exposes oneself to social situations that create discomfort and decatastrophises the possible scenarios.
Gradually, you gain confidence in your abilities and get used to the idea of being able to receive criticism, that rejection isn’t all that dangerous. Not liking someone is possible and nothing happens: it is a normal social event.
To tolerate, accept and overcome the judgment of others, the secret – gradually – is to expose yourself to the most frightening situations. This way you learn to perceive anxiety as an emotion.
The next step is not to focus on the state of discomfort, negative criticism, and contempt. Starting from a little threatening situation, one can practice shifting the focus towards something else, something different, external. Lowering anticipatory emotional arousal may also be helpful. When you expect it, you can do some breathing exercises that help lower the perceived level of anxiety to a manageable stage.
Interpreting the other person’s mind differently can help overcome the anxiety of judgement. In essence, no one can know for sure what other people’s thoughts are. For example, taking time in a crowded place and wondering what people’s tastes, passions and intentions might be – those different from ours – can help us not attribute our mental states to those around us. Self-help readings on the topic, guidelines that help implement the above advice can also be effective.
The first step in solving a problem is acknowledging that you have one. When you realize that you can’t do it alone, that you remain overwhelmed by events and fears, the support of an expert in the field is the safest and most effective way to go: never resort to DIY or hearsay, your own health is at stake.
A psychotherapist can help you understand why other people’s judgment is so important, and give you the tools to break the vicious circles and start virtuous, new and healthier ones. Living fully is a right and a duty.