Do you sometimes feel paralyzed because of what people will think about your appearance, performance, opinions, and choices?
These tips for overcoming fear of what people think are from life coach Arianna Merritt, M.Ed.
“For years, I kept my mouth shut as I was too shy to speak up,” she says. “While I wasn’t afraid of performing in sports or music, when it came to sharing my innermost thoughts and feelings with others, I was insecure and closed up like a clam.”
Arianna adds that when you put yourself out there and share your talents, voice, and story with the world, you risk being judged.
“Until a couple of years ago, I hid myself and silenced my voice as I had been criticized and bullied in the past for showcasing my potential,” she says.
I think most people are scared to show their true selves because they’re afraid of what people will think – or, worse, what people will do (judge, bully, oppress, silence).
Are you scared to share your story because of how people will react? What if, however, their reaction is better than you ever expected?
Here, Arianna describes four lessons she learned from sharing her story.
Overcoming Fear of What People Think About You
Guest Post ~ Arianna Merritt
Individuals think shy people are quiet. This is not true for me; as many people know, I love to talk and to share when I’m comfortable in an environment. My shyness does not mean that I am inadequate in any way or that I lack skills or talent. Rather, it only means that I have a hard time sharing what I hold on the inside. When I enter a situation for the first time, I have a hard time speaking up until I feel comfortable in that setting. Some may mistake my lack of speaking as an indication that I have nothing to contribute. That isn’t the case at all; I have A LOT to contribute – I just do not feel comfortable enough initially to speak up.
(Sometimes shyness is confused with introversion. Read Are You an Introvert? A Test for Introverted Personality Traits).
Over the last five years, I have developed the courage to not let the opinions of others prevent me from being the best version of myself. In the past, I was looking to others for me to feel comfortable enough to speak. I’ve learned, though, that this comfort and confidence must come from within! I came upon this knowledge through years of seeking others’ approval. This change has really been reflective in my writing.
If you had asked me years ago when I was extremely shy and scared of public speaking whether I ever pictured myself blogging and sharing my thoughts with the world, the answer would have been a loud, “No!” However, I love where I am today and the path I am on.
There were many setbacks when I started writing online.
Initially, my blog wasn’t successful and I almost gave up on it. When I started loving myself and valuing myself, and not focusing on my inner critic and the past insults of others, the posts started to flow as I began to write from the heart. The words just came to me and suddenly I knew exactly what to say.
On that note, here are the top four lessons I have learned from sharing my story:
Life is about the journey, not the destination
Every obstacle teaches you a lesson that shapes you into the person you are today.
Looking back at my life, I have had many hardships but I wouldn’t change them as they have taught me so many insights about life. I now look at any obstacle as: “What is this experience teaching me?”
Don’t listen to the critics
All the way along, there have been negative comments. Even after achieving great things, I have learned to not take the mean comments personally and to keep going on the route I am on.
Surround yourself with positive people
Having a wonderful group of people around you that support you and nurture you is so important. In life, I have an amazing network where we all help each other become the best we can be.
I have felt like giving up. Life is hard sometimes, I will agree. But, along with the pain and suffering, I know there are so many amazing things waiting for you. When I was going through the obstacles, it appeared like the fog would never go away. I knew, however, in my soul that life would get better.
Guess what, it did. It turned out better than I could have ever imagined. Through learning to love myself unconditionally, now not only am I sharing my thoughts on my blog (safe zone), I reach out and share my journey with others!
This is what was holding me back from sharing my story; what’s stopping you?! Take the risk. Tell your story.
For more tips on overcoming your fear of what people will think, read When You Can’t Think of Anything to Say – Connecting With People.
Arianna Merritt, M.Ed., is a life coach, an educator, and the founder of Arianna’s Random Thoughts. The focus of her work is centered around issues of: perseverance, mentoring, self-worth, body-image, and bullying prevention. Arianna empowers individuals to reach their full potential through finding their voices and sharing their stories. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or on her website.
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.