Q: I consider myself a pretty confident person. But when I make decisions, I know I put too much importance on how I think other people will see me. I don’t want to be held back by that fear anymore. What should I do?
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A: Fear of judgment is natural and human. We all put stock in what other people think or will think about us. And it’s especially hard to quiet that voice when you’re trying to psych yourself up to do something publicly, like try out for the musical or make a speech at an assembly, or to take a risk and break your own pattern. It’s so tempting to ask yourself, “Am I the kind of person who would do this thing?” But wipe that question from your mind. You’re an individual whose personality is made up of a million little thoughts, feelings, and decisions. Don’t concern yourself with fitting into a box.
Here’s the secret to letting go of this worry: People are narcissistic. Most of the time, they’re so concerned with themselves that they barely notice what’s going on around them. When you stress and stress over how someone else will judge what you do, you’re just projecting your own fears onto them.
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If you still can’t shake the nerves, focus on the positive. Make a list of how what you’re doing makes you happy or fulfills you. It’ll make those nagging doubts look pretty lame in comparison.
If you need advice, ask your question in the comments, and it may be featured in an upcoming column.