“Can you look without the voice in your head commenting, drawing conclusions, comparing, or trying to figure something out?” – Eckhart Tolle
A few weeks ago I had to give a keynote presentation to my local Rotary Club about the habits to create long term happiness. After almost 4 years from my last public speech, when I was at university, this experience brought back to mind my early public presentations of my life.
As a student I gave several presentations in front classmates and professors, but it wasn’t always easy; especially in the beginning I felt terrified.
For some people, being evaluated in social situations such as public speaking, making an appointment or sitting for an exam, is equivalent to experiencing an excruciating pain.
In my case I felt, in part at least, to be under constant evaluation by my audience. I would slowly put myself in defense mode, so that they could not discover my flaws and spot my weaknesses.
Because I saw my audience as the judge of my imperfections, I also believed that they would seize on any misstep and despise me for that.
From my experience, I noticed several factors that could intensify or mitigate the fear during this type of events, and they usually concern vulnerability-related attributes like:
- The status of the evaluator and her power within the society.
- Your skills in presenting an attractive and persuasive “facade”.
- The confidence in your own abilities.
- The evaluation of the degree of threat, of the potential damage and the likelihood of this happening.
- Some automatic defenses like verbal inhibition, memory block and spontaneity control can weaken someone’s performance.
- The anticipation of punishment from the evaluator for a given act that goes against the rules or for a below standard performance.
Knowing how to properly cope with certain adverse social events, requires a good degree of self-confidence in your abilities. Your confidence is related to the perceived magnitude of your expectations, your difficulties and the potential punishment derived from a scarce performance.
In certain circumstances your self-confidence can be threatened and weakened:
- When you feel inferior and not good enough to rightfully answer the evaluator’s requests.
- When you fear a negative consequence for a bad performance (job loss, suspension from school or the end of a relationship).
Fear of judgment, not only triggers internal reactions, but external too. Blushing, sense of fatigue, muscular tension and palpitations are some of the most common symptoms.
When I was at university, even before the dreaded event took place, I used to get absorbed by my prophetic fears that soon after would lead me to physical and mental stiffening. That inhibition interfered with the natural expression of myself, my mind got confused and my words got jumbled.
In essence, I undervalued my skills and became more vulnerable.
Overcoming social anxiety, and in particular fear of negative evaluation, is not an easy thing to do; yet many other people, myself included have done it. Although I’m not a certified therapist, I want to show you what has worked for me.
While I was in the middle of this problem, I felt completely despaired – as if it could never get better – until I made these simple adjustments to my life.
When you try to impress someone, you are no longer real and authentic with that person. When you just express yourself, that opens up a whole new channel where you can authentically connect with another human being.
More self-love helped me achieve this result. When you don’t love yourself, the only thing you can use your time for is to worry about what other people think.
The more love you have for yourself, the more you’ll be able to authentically express yourself.
Life is Everywhere
As soon as I realised that it wasn’t only about me, and that there are millions of other people in the world, then it became clear that the world doesn’t have time to think about me.
The majority of the time people are not thinking about you, instead they are thinking about them.
We have to stop being so egocentric and think that the whole world revolves around us.
Don’t Please Everyone
Many people beg to be liked by each and everyone, but we have to remind ourselves that we are not in this world to live up to other people’s expectations. We are here to be ourselves and authentic 100%.
Setting up your own unique value system is an incredible favor you can do yourself. When you allow someone else to give you value, you automatically lose self-confidence.
Give yourself your own definition of value. Do everything for yourself first, before doing it for anyone else.
Accept that you cannot control what other people think of you. You can’t control how people act, you can only control how you respond to their actions.
Leave a comment below if you are going through this process right now. Comment with the steps that you are taking to overcome fear of judgment. Comment if you, like me, overcame fear of judgment and want to share your personal story. Comment if you have questions you want me to answer. Comment also if you hated this post. I love hearing from you!