Worrying about what others think often coincides with social-based anxiety or painful shyness. What people seem to fear the most is; other people thinking negatively about them. The most common fear I hear of, from clients suffering this form of anxiety, is that “other people, will think I’m stupid”. This is often a result of the worrier believing deep down that “they are not good enough”
We all know people who don’t seem to care what others think. As a result of this, they are loved by others for this carefree attitude. How do they do this?
What is the difference between someone who worries about other people’s opinions and those who don’t? As someone who was a “worrier”, and is now a reformed worrier, I aim to shed some light on this question, by applying my knowledge and experience as a Hypnotherapist.
As a reformed “worrier”, I recall this pain during social situations. They occurred mainly when I was in the company of people that I didn’t know very well. There was the only thing I wanted to happen, and that was, for the ground to swallow me up so I could disappear.
I would do anything I could, to be invisible, avoiding eye contact, keeping as quiet as I possibly could. “Would you like a drink Alexia” I would reply in a squeaky high pitched voice, “no thank you” whilst blushing and feeling like I might pass out; despite wanting a cup of tea. I would become angry with myself for being, what I perceived to be, inadequate.
My inner tyrant would appear and I would proceed in giving myself a metaphorical “good beating”. My internal dialogue being something along these lines: “you idiot, why can’t you just be normal and say yes to a cup of tea? “The problem was if I said yes, then more questions would follow: “how do you like your tea Alexia, sugar, how many, milk, cup or mug, how strong?” This would make me have to talk MORE, and this would have made people look at me, and discover how stupid I really was. Once I had the cup of tea, I would have to drink it, and if I drink it, I might spill it, cough, slurp, and draw more attention to myself. Then people would see what a rubbish person I was. It seemed much easier at that time, just to avoid having the cup of tea and make one when I got home. Which I invariably did. Made just the way I like it!
On the occasions where I had to talk, I would blush and say things in the wrong order. Stutter and do EXACTLY what I didn’t want to do, which was to make an idiot of myself. For me, the whole process was exhausting and quite soul destroying. Being in the company of “strangers” was an ordeal for me. It was something that my deeper mind learned to avoid at all costs. The cost was, of course, loneliness.
I believed that other people were better than me, cooler than me, more intelligent than me, more interesting than me, the list went on, but I’m sure you understand my point.
I often wished I had more money so I could have designer clothes, a posh car, to be smarter so I could have an interesting job, or to be able to make funny jokes, as I mistakenly thought all this would make things better for me. If I was more like everyone else, then I would be ok. However, I was a very skint single mother; this made the majority of the above solutions impossible. So, avoiding situations was the best option. Or to drink alcohol where possible, which in effect is the same thing.
As a reformed worrier, I no longer worry about what other people think about me. How did I change this?
- 1) I stopped believing the world was a horrible place. As long as I believed that the world was a horrible place, I would always worry that people were out to get me. (I still can’t work out why I actually thought this, but nevertheless, I did)
- 2) I stopped believing that everyone else was the enemy, and realised other people have insecurities, and fears and were not as bulletproof as they seemed. Despite seeming intelligent and funny and wearing posh clothes. This is called distorted thinking.
- 3) I challenged my own judgements I was very quick to judge others, and I was actually highly critical of others. I now know that this was about MY insecurities and not about others at all. My critical judgemental mind mistakenly led me to believe that other people must think like me. Yes, I believed this, whilst believing that I was some sort of freak of nature. That I was so different to everyone else, because they were cool, trendy, funny, drove nice cars and so on. I wasn’t like them, but what I did believe was that we all thought horrible things about each other. (This, of course, isn’t true, we see the world differently. I’ll write about World Views, in my next blog. As that subject is a really fascinating and enlightening one)
I see other people through compassionate eyes these days. We are all trying to get by and the majority of us just want to get along and have an easy and happy life. Those who appear hostile or difﬁcult to connect with, I now know, are the people who are afraid as I was. Or perhaps have things going on in their lives, which are troubling them.
- 4) Challenge negative inner chat: this is something everyone should become aware of. The inner conversations we have; play a major role in our worries. It is the inner chat that runs a commentary on what others think. We take this inner voice as a truth and our body reacts accordingly. Here is a typical example:
Michelle has a work “do” tonight:
Before the event
The Inner voice begins, “oh god this will be a nightmare, I hate these events, I don’t want to go, (body starts to feel nervous) “I bet nobody will talk to me, I feel horrible, my clothes are rubbish, if anyone does talk to me, I will make an idiot of myself” (The mind will recall other times when this has happened, (evidence for the false assumptions) and the body feels more nervous…
At the event
Every interaction with a colleague will be assessed and viewed negatively. For example, a colleague says “hello” and smiles and asks how you are? This is interpreted as “why has she asked how I am” does she know, I’m not ok? She can see I’m nervous or not really wanted here, she knows I’m insecure and she feels sorry for me.
A group of colleagues burst into laughter as she returns from the toilet, this is interpreted as they are laughing at me, and what I’m wearing.
Poor Michelle, why would she want to go out?
These are just a few examples of what goes on in our heads when we worry about what other people think.
4)Change your inner voice, talk to yourself kindly, in the same way, you would talk to a friend or your child who was worried about doing something. Soften your tone and afﬁrm, “it will be ﬁne” challenge any distorted fearful thoughts. Just because you think it’s true, it doesn’t mean that it is.
For many people who worry about what others think; the issue is that they are putting themselves under pressure to be perfect. Another underlying fear is that others will see their faults and insecurities, and dislike them for it. For those who don’t worry about what others think; they are comfortable with their faults and insecurities and are happy to reveal these flaws to the rest of the world. The beauty of this attitude is that other people admire it. We like people who are honest with themselves, it’s easier to connect with them and they appear to be more genuine. As we know deep down, nobody is perfect.
- 5) Lower your expectations; it’s ok to say the wrong thing, so what? Laugh about it. It’s ok to blush, and it’s ok to feel afraid. Instead of trying to cover it up, share with your friends and colleagues. You will be amazed at how many people will say they feel the same. This really takes the pressure off you. and is a great way to open a conversation
- 6) Smile more; it’s such a lovely feeling to get a smile from someone. Smile at strangers, when it’s appropriate of course! It will make you feel better and someone else may benefit too. Try it, it’s like magic!! This quote puts a “smile” into perspective, I think. I love a good smile 😀
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” Maya Angelou
This beautiful and famous quote is perfect for this blog
Our Deepest Fear by Marianne Williamson
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you NOT to be? You are a child of the universe
You’re playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking so that other people won’t feel unsure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of the universe that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
As we let our own Light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Worrying about others think, is certainly one the top three most common issues that I deal with on a daily basis. There are more people worrying about what others think, and whilst they are doing that; they are not thinking about you. They are too busy trying to work out what you think!
So in summary:
1: Stop believing that the world is a horrible place. I’m not saying you need to become Mary Poppins. Just view it as a sunny Sunday afternoon rather than a rainy Monday morning.
2: Only allow positive inner chat, it’s your chat so you might as well make it work for you!
3: Challenge negative thoughts and question them.
4: Know that nobody is perfect and we all have insecurities.
6: Lower your expectation and stop taking yourself so seriously.
Big love Alexia X
Or you can, of course, make an appointment for a free hypnotherapy Consultation in Leicester, with highly experienced Hypnotherapist Alexia Elliott.
Empowerment Hypnotherapy Leicester Hypnotherapy in Leicester with Hypnotherapist Alexia Elliott. Free consultation session at Empowerment hypnotherapy Leicester
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