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How do you get over the fear of being judged by others so you can stay true to yourself and keep moving toward your goals and dreams?

This is a common question creators of all types face at some point.

Whenever you are creating something for others to consume or putting any of your talents and skills on display, you will face the inevitable of having to get over the fear of “putting yourself out there.”

There is a term used by psychologists called the spotlight effect, which refers to the tendency we all have to overestimate and exaggerate how much other people notice things about us.

Meaning, we tend to think there is a spotlight on us at all times, highlighting all of our imperfections, mistakes, and flaws, for all the world to see and pick apart.

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It’s those aspects about ourselves that we tend to focus on when we are about to present ourselves to the world…

That tiny stain you notice on your shirt right before you go into a meeting… 

That single misplaced hair you fixate on as you review a photo you’re in that’s posted to your friends’ Facebook page… 

Or it shows up in our work or creative projects when we dwell over that one single detail that isn’t exactly how we want it to be.

In my case, it’s the endless amount of time I spend editing out a slight stutter I might catch in my voice when I’m creating a YouTube video. 

We tend to think people are closely examining us with a fine-tooth comb.

But the truth is no one else notices these “imperfections” but YOU.

We do this because we all on some level fear being judged by others.

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The Truth About The Fear of Judgment

The fear of being judged is wired in our biology.

We humans are social animals that crave community which stems from our evolutionary days of needing a tribe to belong to so we can stay safe and survive.

And judgment (whether real or imagined) means a threat to our belonging which triggers a threat to our safety.

But the funny thing about the fear of judgment is…

It’s merely a projection of our own self-judgment.

The things about ourselves we fear being judged for by others are the things we judge in ourselves.

All this does is expose a greater truth…

Our life is a mirror — a reflection of all our thoughts, beliefs, perceptions, and feelings.

There’s a reason why many spiritual teachings and even quantum physics both deem reality as an illusion — meaning our perception is distorted and what we see isn’t actually reality.

It’s simply OUR projection of reality.

Or as the famous saying goes,

“We don’t see things the way they are. We see things the way we are.”

Here are few things to consider to help further this idea:

  1. When we think others are being judgmental it’s revealing our own self-judgment.
  2. When we criticize others it reveals our own insecurities.
  3. When we discourage others from trying something new it reveals our own fears.
  4. When we admire a quality or character trait in someone it reveals the values and virtues that matter most to us.
  5. When we feel inspired by others it reveals our soul’s desire to unfold.

In other words, everything is a reflection of our own deeply ingrained perceptions.

And when we start to understand that our distortions are what fuels our own self-judgment and the judgment we place upon others, we can begin to create a different relationship with our fear of being judged.

Below I compiled some mindful ideas to help reframe your perception of judgment from others.

Reframing The Fear of Judgement

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1.All criticism is self-criticism. Just like your negative energy and distorted thinking is really more about you, the same holds true for other people.

Any potential judgments or harsh critiques you face will speak more about the person it’s coming from than it does about you. This is the mirror at work; it is the reflection of their own struggles, pain, inner child, suffering, etc.

2.Respect that everyone is on their own unique journey. But most importantly, accept that not everyone is going to get or understand your journey.

While it’s great if we happen to inspire others, we don’t need others to validate or agree with everything we do, say, and believe. Consider the Gestalt prayer written by psychotherapist Fritz Perls:

“I do my thing and you do your thing. I am not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you are not in this world to live up to mine. You are you, and I am I, and if by chance we find each other, it’s beautiful. If not, it can’t be helped.”

3.People aren’t thinking about you all that much. Both the fear of judgment and the spotlight effect are rooted in egocentrism.

This is not out of arrogance or because we value ourselves more than others but because we are all the center of our own universes.

In actuality, people don’t have time to examine you or your life, they are too busy worrying about their own lives and struggles.

4.You are not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. This one can be tough to swallow because we want everyone to like and accept us.

But you as a person are not going to be for everyone and that’s ok — just accept that putting yourself out there means criticism and judgment is inevitable.

Plus, being for everyone means you are trying to be average. And if one of your main aims in life is to keep striving to be the most extraordinary version of yourself and live the best life possible, being average doesn’t equate.

5.Embrace your quirks. Many of the quirks, traits and, attributes about yourself that you worry about being judged for are in fact the very qualities that make you uniquely who you are.

Embrace them. Honor them. And use them as your ‘calling card’ to fuel finding your own voice and expressing yourself authentically when you do put yourself out there.

All you can do is your best in every moment, and while your best will fluctuate at times, your intention to show up authentically stays the same.

Anthony Lombardo

Anthony Lombardo

Anthony V. Lombardo is a blogger, YouTuber, and web entrepreneur. He runs a personal growth newsletter that curates some of the best tips, inspiration, and ideas on goal setting, motivation, spirituality, happiness, entrepreneurship, and creating a life you love! He is the creator of the Clearing Your Slate Forgiveness Exercise — a simple process for cultivating radical forgiveness.Visit his Facebook page or YouTube channel to check out his latest insights.
Anthony Lombardo

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4 Comments

  1. Very interesting! I hadn’t heard of the spotlight effect before. I really like the 5 points you shared, which brings the fear of judgment back into ourselves where we can turn it around.

    • Hi Sandra…I found this article to be an interesting read. It’s always good to see the world from another’s perspective. 🙂

  2. I agree so much with what you’ve said above. Judging is really about how we feel about ourselves and has very little to do with another person. All criticism IS self-criticism. It is toxic.

    • Wow Debbie – your comment about criticism is so spot-on with my feelings about it. We clearly have the same mindset on this. 🙂

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