Hello friends! Thank you for tuning into this week’s episode of The Confidence Column
Are you someone who worries what other people think about you?
This is a question I asked on my instagram a couple weeks ago and I had someone send me a question for advice. Her questions reads:
Yes, I definitely worry about what other people think of me. A lot of the time, I don’t want to say things because I dont’ want them to think I’m dumb or something. I’ve been trying to do more self confidence work (which is how I found your page) and when I saw your question, I realized I do this a lot! I worry a lot about what other people think about me. I know this is a thing, and I can see other women in my life having issues with it too. Are we all dealing with this? Is there a way to truly stop it forever?
These are great questions! Thank you so much for answering the poll on my instagram and sending in your question.
I want to start by bringing a little attention to the first part of your question, where you admitted “i don’t want them to think I”m dumb or something.” I feel like this is a collective trauma response to being a woman in our society. We get a lot of programming that tells us we aren’t enough - smart enough, strong enough, that we think with our emotions too much and not enough with logic. And when we do speak up, people try to diminish what we are sharing from this implication of not enough-ness. Or that - someone else has something more valuable to say than you, a woman, does.
First of all - being seen as dumb and being dumb are two different things.
Are you dumb? No.
Will people see you as dumb? Maybe? Sometimes?
But not speaking up because of what someone might think vs what is actually true - is harmful...to You. You deserve to be heard, have opinions and perspectives, to share in the conversation.
(caveat here - if you do end up saying something dumb, just own it. We all say dumb things sometimes. Everyone. Every single person has said something incorrect, hurtful, or just straight up WRONG. It’s okay. Learning how to take accountability when you are wrong is a good trait to have.) With that caveat - know that you are not dumb, and if someone thinks you’re dumb for something you say without talkin’ it out with you, that says more about them than it does about your or your intelligence level.
For the second part of your question - wondering if we’re all dealing with this. I can’t speak for everyone. There may be women who don’t but I’d venture to say that, yes, a good majority of women do struggle with this...and some may be struggling with it and not even know it...or know the extent to which it impacts them. It’s because we’ve been conditioned to constantly consider our presence in the world. What we are allowed to do, where we are allowed to show up, if it’s gonna be safe.
This can be just trying to show up in life:
Can I enter this room?
Who is it okay to talk to?
How do I get respect sitting around this table?
Or even messages from our media.
Your summer body is made in winter! Are you working on it?
Here - this make-up will make you look better. Why aren’t you wearing it?
Are your clothes in fashion or do you look like a fuddy duddy?
And some of these questions come to us from the outside
And they aren’t great questions.
People judge us because of existing how we want to in a moment and think that it’s okay to treat us poorly if something bad does happens to us:
Well, why were you wearing that?
Why were you walking there alone?
Why did you drink too much that night?
See, we live in a world that constantly asks women to be hyper aware of themselves, for preservation. To be allowed to walk the earth unharmed, to be allowed to be vocal without argument, to be allowed to exist outside of how we look, for more than how we look! For who we are, and...is who we are okay?.
Therefore, we are hypersensitive to judgment.
We think about what other people think about us all the time.
The...kinda sad thing about this is: These thoughts actually can function to help keep us safe.
That’s a sad thing to admit. This hypersensitivity can keep us safe.
I want to try and help put it into another perspective. There’s a difference between Worrying about what other people think and being mindful of what other people are thinking. I can see that a lot of the pain that women experience around this topic stems from the worrying part.
. Yea, be mindful of the rooms you enter. Be mindful of the things you say. Be mindful of how you present yourself in certain environments.
Is there a way to truly stop this worrying - forever?
That sounds like a big undertaking, stopping anything forever.
And if you’ve struggled with this to the point that it keeps you stuck or stalled or quiet, or playing small, then you probably see it as a huge undertaking. HOW? How can you stop caring about what other people think? If you haven’t figured out the How, you’re probably still stuck. .
That being said, there are definitely things you can do to put what other people think of you - behind- what you think of yourself.
That’s what is important here. What you think of yourself, and that you put it before what you fear other people may or may not think of you.
For many, this fear of judgment is right up front in our minds. It’s the first thing that you think about. The process here is moving that back in your mind.
When you encounter these moments worrying about what someone is thinking about you, can you create some pause and some space around that worrying.
One of my favorite questions to ask myself is “who do I value more in this moment?” Someone else, and what they may think about me OR speaking up in this moment when I have something valuable to say?
(I just want to be super clear that - you can respect someone else but still value yourself more. It doesn’t have to be that what you say is more valuable than what they say… It just means you’re not letting what they may think about you stop you from including yourself. Be included! Be respectful of others but also value yourself enough to be a part of the conversation.)
It’s okay to think that someone may not treat you with consideration when you speak up and if they don’t, how much do you really care what they think? And is that more than you care about what you think about yourself?
Let’s talk about this as the placement in your head. I like to picture this like one of those standing folder files that you put on your desk. It can hold one file in front, then one behind it, and another behind it, so you can quickly access these files throughout the day. (shoutout out ot my admin betties of the best)
If you’re putting their thoughts as that first file, and what you want to share as the second, third, fourth file, the first one you’re gonna grab is their judgment. How can you move that back a notch or two and have what you want to share is that first slot? I’m not telling you not to be mindful of their file. it’s just not the first one you’re gonna pull.
This can be particularly challenging with people you admire, you mentors, leaders you look up to. I’m not saying let your thoughts spew wild from your mouth without thinking about them. Just remember that - they were once where you are now. True mentors and leaders value what people have to say, even people that are still learning. When you find value in what you share, others do too. So this is a practice in bringing mindfulness and value to your sharing.
I dunno if you noticed but a good chunk of this talk today has been about reverting your thoughts back to YOU. It’s important to be mindful of other people but, always always, the first thought should be with you. How you value yourself. How you respect yourself. How what you say and what you do is also valuable and important.
I’ve used the word value a million times in this podcast but it’s really important to me that you understand the value of using your voice, speaking up, and being heard! It’s valuable, you’re valuable.
Everyone may not like it but, when *you* practice liking it, what other people think about you doesn’t live up front in your mind anymore.
And like everything, it’s a practice.
When you start worrying about what someone else may be thinking of you - yo, take a pause.
And bring that feeling of value and respect back to yourself.
As part of that same Instagram post that this question came from, I followed it up with: how would it feel to live your life without worrying about what other people think of you all the time? I got just a couple of actual responses... I might feel “free” or “healed” but for the most part, people said “I have no idea.”
Which means that you are living your life more concerned about what other people think about you compared to figuring out what you think about yourself.
I can tell you what it’s been for me, not worrying so much what people think about me...and how it’s made my clients feel:
Yes - it is very “freeing” and it’s also just generally POWERFUL
Powerful and EMpowering!
It’s commanding. It’s OWNING IT - it's like the definition of owning
Like you’re not waiting for someone to tell you you’re great.
You can validate your own greatness and keep speaking up from that place.
It feels like a lot of laughing and smiling and straight up joy.
It’s a big sense of fulfillment because it’s YOUR self-confidence on fire!!! AND - you’re valuing yourself.
In other words, it’s bomb af
It feels so good and I want more of you to feel this.
I just want you to know that - This process of showing up, speaking up, and taking action when you’re worried about outside judgement, what other people think of you, will come with embarrassing moments.
It’s also a practice in putting yourself out there, and humility. Being willing to make mistakes, be wrong, and learn more moving forward.
And all these things help create a stronger version of yourself. So keep practicing at pausing and reframing. Keep moving that fear of judgement back in your brain file filer and your courage up front.
I hope this was helpful and that you can begin practicing putting your “I am valuable” thoughts at the forefront of your brain because what you have to say is worthy of being shared.
Thank you for joining me on this weeks episode of The Confidence Column and I'll meet y'all back here next week!