Why are we SO anxious about other people’s opinions?

Why are we SO anxious about other people’s opinions? 150 150 Jane Evans

Why do other people’s opinions plague us?

Be honest…

How much of your daily thinking is taken up endlessly analysing and worrying about what other people think about, what you:

  • Say
  • Do
  • Don’t say
  • Don’t do
  • Look like
  • Sound like
  • Know
  • Don’t know

Or even worse…

What your child/ren:

  • Behaves like
  • Refuses to do
  • Does
  • Screams out loud
  • Destroys
  • Forgets to say/do
  • Ignores
  • Knocks over
  • Plus…all of the others above

Choosing to be on mainstream TV, saying things that go against popular, long held beliefs. I have been on the receiving end of some very personal and wounding comments. Before I cleared away my familiar inner critic and became super grounded, the backlash used to make me stressed and miserable.

Not any more! Mostly I don’t look as I feel so calm and secure I’m not interested. If anything should pop up, I allow the ouch moment, about 5 minutes worth, and move on my own sweet way, which is exactly what I want for you!

Why DO we care so much about what everyone thinks about us?

Whether it is as parents, professionally, how we measure up as friends, partners, are ‘liked’ on social media…damn it, on a bad day, it can  be just because we breathe and take up space! Why, do we get so absorbed in what we think, others think about us? Given that we are nearly always simply guessing and fabricating what actually is going on inside their minds. Doesn’t this seem just a little bit bonkers and somewhat self-defeating?

Ready to ditch this for good?

Research findings from non research (but repeatedly hearing the same thing for years)

From years of coaching individuals who are seeking to have lasting change because they are fed up with their negative limiting, sometimes downright destructive, habits and beliefs. And are truly ready to experience and enjoy the freedom of actually delivering on their long held ambitions, dreams, goals and plans.

I have discovered the following 3 recurring blocks nearly everyone has (in a non researchy way):

  1. A close relationship with shame
  2. A deep sense of not being good enough
  3. An ongoing level of anxiety

Let’s unpick the troublesome three that so often lead us to caring far too much about other people!

1. Why shame doesn’t tame!

Dictionary definition of Shame – a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour.

Shame is soooooooo horrible and pretty useless. It either shuts us down, and shoves us down a deep dark well of shame. Or, it lights the shame touch paper on the explosive shame rocket. Whoosh we lose it! Outwardly, think red face, spit and some swearing and stomping about. Or, inwardly, tight, suppressed seething, rage, self-loathing and plenty of stress chemicals.

Some try to convince us that shame serves a purpose. Predominantly to teach children not to do things again but that is just rubbish. In the moment a child connects with a feeling of having done wrong, and feels embarrassed and humiliated, they are simultaneously flicked out of their intelligent learning brain, and into their survive for this millisecond at all costs, emotional brain. Therefore they have a big experience of horrible sensations but not much learning, apart from, that what they did felt horrible and debilitated them at every level physically and emotionally.

Then if any remotely similar situation ever presents again, even when they are 85, they will relive all this humiliation, fear, sadness and possible rage too.

To recap – shame makes us feel shit, shut down, or kick off and become stupid!

2. Why not good enough is nasty!

A lifelong lingering sense of just not ever really measuring up to anyone else, how ever hard you try, prepare, practice or anything else, is a ridiculously heavy load to drag around. It can sink anything you do, or attempt to do, without any input at all from another human being!

Not good enough can cause such self-doubt it can leave you playing safe in any and all areas of your life. Or leaping rashly into things with both feet as you are just so damn sacred. Only to then regret and berate either your inaction, or your impulsive behaviour!

To recap – not good enough can be like being chained to a particularly negative Eeyore, primed to point out just how crap you are, or definitely will be, and all that’s likely to go wrong.

3. Why ongoing anxiety is overrated!

Anxiety will have you believe pretty much anything, as it comes from your survival/threat system. (Think – scared meerkat) The more alarming the thought is, the longer it will last, and the more it can spin you out of control. After all, a familiar, continuous loop of thoughts and beliefs about how stupid, boring, annoying, irritating and stupid (deserves repeating as it so often features!) serves not one single human anywhere on our planet…ever.

I should know, because I have carried out a personally funded 50 year experiment on myself, and can categorically confirm it has never made me feel better or perform to my greatest potential! Of course a smidge of anxiety, about 5 minutes worth, can ramp up our energy. Beyond that it becomes an energy drain making us less able to access our greatest intelligence, our most articulate, authentically warm, humorous, creative, joyful self.

To recap – anxiety makes us stupid, irritable, over the top, withdrawn, self-obsessed, negative, fearful and very, very hard on our sweet selves.

What to do to be free of fretting about other people?

In 8 million years of working with people (alright 25 years), I know that simply deciding not to care about what others think rarely cuts it. Shame, not feeling good enough and anxiety can’t be shut down that simply, as they are not logical. Therefore, engaging the rational, intelligent mind to give them the boot can be a painfully slow repetitive process that is hard to sustain. Especially if you aren’t planning to go on a month long meditation, zen retreat somewhere. (if you are, have a great time)

On a daily basis I do recommend a real commitment to calming your nervous system down as its the one responding to your thoughts by firing stress chemicals through you. Learning ways to stroke it back into  more purring (think meerkat again – a very cross one) and less spitting and scratching, or shut down and shut off state, is a great idea.

Things to do everyday:

  1. When you wake up scrunch every part of you up, hold, let go.
  2. Next take 3 deep breaths slowly in and slowly out.
  3. Then think of, and fully connect with, a real feeling of gratitude for 3 things. E.g. I truly feel grateful for being safe last  night. I feel really grateful I have running water in my bathroom. I truly feel grateful to have food to eat for my breakfast today.
  4. Smile to yourself – turning the corners of your mouth up brings a sense of settling to your whole body system and brain.

Throughout the day, have a phrase you connect with and regularly use it to reset your brain and the chemicals coursing around your system.

  1. Take a moment to put some weight in your feet and notice the ground.
  2. Breathe slowly into your belly area. Slowly out.
  3. Say your phrase slowly in your head, “I accept that I am doing my best”, “I release, relax and let go of all my stress.”

Commit to 10 minutes qi gong and/or yoga EVERYDAY!

Creating solid, lasting change…

For lasting change to permanently free you from the distracting, debilitating habit of focusing on, and caring so much about others opinions, thoughts and comments. You need to remove old patterns of thinking and beliefs about shame, not feeling good enough and anxiety for good. This means having a good clear-out of your habitual subconscious mind, which is at the heart of my coaching as it adds real value, unlike anything else I have ever come across.

Using a technique called QEC to uninstall the need to look outwards for validation or to detect disapproval, and to install a strong sense of  calmness and total self-assurance. You can have a daily life free from habitually focusing on what others might be thinking or saying about you, or your precious children. When you even try to do this, it will fizzle out as quickly as a firework on a rainy day.

Ready to be rid of always looking outwards instead of tapping into inner calmness and strength?

Get in touch right now! Pop your question on the contact form below and let’s get you started…

Jane Evans

Jane is a ‘learn the hard way’ person. She has learnt from her personal experiences and her direct work with people who have often been in really bad places emotionally, relationally, practically and sometimes professionally.

All stories by: Jane Evans

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