This post originally appeared here on Change Becomes You.
Conquering Fear Of Other People's Opinion
It happened yesterday when I met up with a friend for coffee. As he approached, I noticed he had his nails painted black. I chuckled and asked him about the new fad.
He replied hesitantly that he’s convinced it looked great, but it took him a long while to decide if he should go for it. He slid into the chair across the table and said, “People would probably think I’m gay. My dad would react negatively towards this. I’ll probably clean it up in a jiffy.”
My friend has succumbed to FOPO: Fear of Other Peoples’ Opinions.
But why? What do other people’s opinions have to do with anything?
Let’s face it. We all get caught up at one time or another. FOPO has become an irrational compulsion for many in this day and age, including me. We care so much about what others think we put our happiness under their control.
I should know better, I think. Knowing others might judge me makes me insecure at times. I fear presenting versions of myself that I think others might reject, and the negative effects reached far beyond my quirky personality.
I realize if I continue ignoring being exactly who I am, whatever the heck that looks like, I’ll harm my potential. I’ll shy away in my little corner wishing I could have done something but didn’t because at the back of my mind I’m afraid they might ridicule me.
Do I really have to concern myself about what others think? It’s none of my business. More often than not, it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them
This was my problem, and it might be yours too. I pretended to be who I’m not for the sake of fitting in and the truth is, sometimes putting on a mask is the only option I have. I get it. Some settings require me to put on a public persona that is at odds with my real personality. So long as I do not forget my core values, I’m still alright.
To conquer FOPO, I need to get beyond the general sense of self to develop stronger and deeper self-awareness. We are unique in that our brains do not function the same way. There’s only one of me around, there isn’t anyone else like me. Some will call me ignorant, while others will love what I have to say. Some won’t give me the time of day, no matter how charming I appeared to be, while others will remember me for years.
Do I really have to concern myself about what others think? It’s none of my business. More often than not, it has nothing to do with me and everything to do with them — their conditioning, their judgments, and their expectations. Some will caution me not to stray too far away from the norm or risk looking like an idiot, but who gets to decide what is morally acceptable? Constantly having to look over my shoulders and worrying about what others might think is a terrible way to live.
Without a doubt, making others’ opinions of crucial importance to my survival simply means that my lifestyle or my personality would have to fit into their expectations. That’s just like getting caught between a rock and a hard place. If I get a reaction that makes me feel insecure, wouldn’t that tell me right then and there where I stand, and that I probably need to work on myself?
Having a personal philosophy is so important because, without it, you can never feel confident about yourself or the decisions you made. You’ll always feel lost as a result because the reality you see is how you perceive others see you, even though it’s not necessarily true. There’s only one person who can truly hurt my feelings. That is me. To change that, I have to change a thought. What am I thinking about? What do I believe is true? Then my emotions will follow.
Chances are the negative feedback I received is probably only a passing thought from some unconscious mind. So long as I can keep my perspective, I’m good.
Despite my best intentions, I will make mistakes. We all do and we all have, so cut yourself some slack. Once we’ve realized the mistake and learned the lesson, it’s time to move on. When the sun rises again tomorrow, nobody will remember, or care what has happened so there is no point fretting over it the entire night.
No one is living my life except me. I’m the only person who knows what’s best for me, and that means when I make a mistake, I must have the courage to own it.
People spend most of their time obsessed about themselves, anyway. Chances are the negative feedback I received is probably only a passing thought from some unconscious mind. So long as I can keep my perspective, I’m good. There is simply too much that’s unknown to us.
People will either love me or hate me, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do about that. I have to live by my decisions, taking full responsibility for what I do with what I know. That is liberating because it relieves me from the fine art of blaming others for any negative outcome that happens to me.
To live your life with more purpose and meaning means owning the freedom to authentically and artistically express who you are.
How can you be sure if those lovely people who judged you do not actually have a bit of FOPO themselves? Learn to please yourself and let the rest fall where they may.
I don’t know about you, but I only have this one life. Do I really want to spend these precious moments worrying about what other people think, to do what others tell me I should, or to go where they think is right for me? The answer should be as plain as the nose on your face, right?
So go ahead and be free to express. Tell that special someone you love them, don’t hold back. Get up from your seat and dance at a wedding. Take some risks. Be respectfully weird, and no, don’t ask for anyone’s opinion. And yes, that means, be you at all costs, because I certainly will.
Conquer FOPO because life without freedom of expression is not worth living.