The Fear of Being Judged runs in families, but no one knows for sure why some people are more affected by it than others.
Millions of people all over the world suffer from this devastating fear, and in the U.S. the recent epidemiological studies assessed that it is the third largest in the country reason for people not living a happy life.
Those of us who have The Fear of Being Judged might be afraid of doing common things in front of other people. For some, their fear is a problem only in certain situations, for others – in almost all situations.
People with Fear of Being Judged know that it is irrational and does not make any sense, yet they can’t help perpetuating their anxious thoughts and feelings.
Here are some of the symptoms we may have repeatedly experienced if we have The Fear of Being Judged:
On the emotional level:
Excessive self-consciousness and anxiety in social situations
An intense worry for days, weeks, or sometimes even months before an upcoming social event
Fear of being watched or judged by others, people we don’t even know
Fear that we’ll embarrass or humiliate ourselves
Fear that others will notice that we are nervous
On the physical level:
Shortness of breath
Nausea, upset stomach
Trembling (including shaky voice)
Sweating, hot flashes
Feeling dizzy or faint
Look also for the following behavioral symptoms:
Avoiding social situations and limiting your activities
Being quiet and hiding in the background in order to escape notice and embarrassment
A need to always bring somebody along with you wherever you go
Drinking/smoking before or during social situations in order to calm down
When does it all start?
The first symptoms of The Fear of Being Judged usually start during our youth. It could be related to the fact that we all have a deep need to feel accepted and approved by our environment, and in our teenage years many of us may have experienced rejection or were ridiculed by other teenagers.
As the human species, we are biologically wired to live in groups and communities in order to survive. And so, being rejected by our community creates in our subconscious a huge threat to our survival. That can result in developing a deep Fear of Being Judged that gets in the way of going to school or work or doing other everyday things.
When we give in to our Fear of Being Judged we subconsciously (or consciously) want to fulfill the expectations of our parents, spouses, our environment or society – and so, our life is driven by your need for approval.
Often, in such situations, we neglect our own truth, silence our Heart and fill our head with Mind/Ego desires. Sooner or later we reach a dead end: with unused potential, overwhelming stress and unfulfilled life.
Hot to overcome The Fear of Being Judged:
You may want to start challenging your negative thoughts, either through therapy or on your own. Yes, it can be done. If others could do it, you can do it too.
Step 1: Identify the automatic negative thoughts that you are having while being anxious about social situations.
You may, for instance, worry about an upcoming work presentation and think that others will think that you are incompetent, that you are going to blow it.
Ask yourself the following questions:
– Am I sure that I’m going to blow it?
–Even if others realize that I’m nervous, will they necessarily think that I’m incompetent?
Through such logical analyses of the upcoming situation, you may gradually replace the fearful thoughts with more realistic and positive ways of looking at social events that trigger your Fear of Being Judged.
Remember: big steps consist of small steps.
Step 2: Learn how to control your breath.
There are many things happening in your body when you are being anxious. One of them is shortness of breath, which makes your breath quick and shallow. Such overbreathing throws the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in your body off balance – causing dizziness, a feeling of suffocation, increased heart rate and tensed muscles.
Here is what you can do:
Find a comfortable position, sitting with your back straight and your shoulders relaxed.
Take a few deep breaths, through your nose.
Next – take a deep breath, while counting to 4 – and hold it while counting to 4.
Exhale slowly, counting to 4.
Continue to breathe through your nose that way, until you feel that you are calming down.
Step 3: Face your fears.
Now that you know how to replace your negative thoughts with more realistic ones, and you know how to control your breath – it is time to face your fears. Stop avoiding social situations.
Avoidance leads to even more problems.
For instance, if you are scared of socializing with strangers, you might start accompanying your friend to a party. Once you are comfortable with that step – you might introduce yourself to one new person. Then to another one, and so on.
Important: do not try to face your biggest fear right away. When you move too fast – you may end up reinforcing your anxiety. Take one step at a time.
Step 4: Take a class, find a workshop – that teaches self-confidence, public speaking or helps one to built assertiveness and develop communication skills.
You may also want to volunteer: find a small group of like-minded people and while participating in their activities – focus on the tasks, not on assessing your performance.
Step 5: Adjust/change your lifestyle.
Avoid or limit caffeine. Coffee, black tea, caffeinated soda, energy drinks, and chocolate act as stimulants that increase anxiety symptoms. Drink only in moderation and quit or limit smoking. Both alcohol and nicotine increase the risk of having an anxiety attack.
Change is truly a matter of choice, nothing else.
Step 6: Find out who you are at the bottom of your Heart and let yourself be the best you can be according to your, not anybody else’s terms. You will be happy, and your life will become your Dream Life.