Advance Performance | Banish Your Fear of Other People’s Opinions
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Banish Your Fear of Other People’s Opinions

Banish Your Fear of Other People’s Opinions

How often does the fear of what other people think about you stop you from doing something that you want to do?

If you worry what other people are thinking of how you spoke in a meeting, the outfit you wore last Friday, or even whether you laughed too much at a joke with your peers, you are not alone. The Fear of Other People’s Opinions is a real anxiety shared by many individuals. The need for acceptance and approval is a part of your DNA and tribal instinct.

Fear of Other People’s Opinions (FOPO) is not a fear of feedback or a critique of your work – this is a fear of the general opinion of others relating to YOU as a person and your behaviour and appearance which reflects your authentic self.

The anxiety from FOPO can be detrimental to your mindset, resilience, and personal growth. It can limit your actions so you don’t take risks to stand out, and lead you to behave according to another person’s perceptions rather than your authentic self.

FOPO can affect your thinking, your attitudes, and beliefs – even your own Self Talk can be influenced and directed by the voice of those being critical. If you allow your FOPO to control your Self Talk, you are essentially giving control of your thoughts, beliefs and behaviour to other people.

How can you regain control of your mindset and not fear other people’s opinions?

Write down your values that are essential for you. Develop these into an affirmation set in the present tense, with emotions and your senses in one or two sentences as your goal and mission statement. Ask yourself: how can you live your best and most authentic self through your values? Keep your mission statement or affirmation with you so that you can remind yourself when you feel low and need a positive trigger to boost you.

Be consciously aware of your negative mental chatter, and redefine the negative as positive statements to yourself. If you feel that other people’s opinions affect your own Self Talk, stop yourself, take a breath and think of a positive statement to replace the negativity. Each time you think the same idea, you are strengthening the dendrites – and you need the positive dendrites to be resilient, and defined by yourself, not others.

Keep a journal to physically write down those fears and let them go. Even if a person did criticise you, that moment has gone. So don’t dwell on it. Write it down and let it go. If the critique was about a behaviour which you believe should change positively, you can write an action plan to develop and improve yourself.

Select those individuals who can be your positive influence and build your resilience and growth as a person through their feedback and honest opinions.  Write down the names of no more than six individuals who care for your authentic self, will mentor and guide you, whose opinions you trust.  Dr. Michael Gervais says in his HBR article on the subject of FOPO that those individuals “should have a great sense of the person you are and the person you’re working to become.”

Remember to distinguish between the general chatter of those who don’t matter compared with the individuals whose opinions drive your strength, positivity, and growth.

You are the only person in control of your thoughts, beliefs and your behaviour.  By directing your Self Talk positively, you give yourself the freedom to live your authentic best life. Be proud to say “This is me!