Fear of 'what people will say'

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    Hey guys i really like this site…and there are some really helping people here….i have observed that i have a fear what people will say…not always…but sometimes it goes to extremes causing me to paralyse…i know i should not think what people are thinking..but HOW TO IMPLEMENT THIS CONCEPT…i mean i always find myself surrounded by thoughts of what people will say…i have to be free from guilt from people negative criticism…PLEASE TELL ME STEPS TO OVERTHINK WHAT OTHERS ARE THINKING



    I have dealt with chronic shyness my whole life and though how you behave may not be called “shyness” – the mental habits which you describe are the hallmark of that affliction popularly known as “shyness”. I once picked up a book on it called “The Mindful Path Through Shyness”. It suggests addressing shyness and social fear and anxiety through the use of self-compassion. I would also suggest implementing a regular metta meditation as I have found this to be the perfect antidote to any type of fear..

    As for your negative thoughts – it has been my experience that you can NEVER NEVER stop negative thoughts by trying to STOP negative thoughts. Just give up that strategy right now. It has been my experience that you can never stop any kind of thought with more thought. And by thought I mean logical, reasoning, thought. Instead just try STOPPING everything all together. Stop trying to do anything. Even stop trying to stop your thoughts. Just pay attention to ONE thing. Be it your breath, be it the color of the table in front of you, be it your fingernail, be it the curve of a back of a chair. This will put some SPACE between your thoughts and it will help you recognize, “oh! I’m thinking negatively.” And that will be all – you don’t need to think anymore about it than that. A thought is a thought is a thought is a thought and that is all it ever will be. It does not need to be answered by another thought. Creating spaciousness through mindfulness and awareness will help you to see that. And so your fear of criticism or your fear of what people will say will not go away – it will still be there – but it won’t seem like such a big deal. You will be able to act with courage and bravery despite the fear because you will have a spacious mind. And I must say that metta meditation is one of the quickest ways to develop this spaciousness – especially when it comes to fearful thoughts. Perhaps try it. Your mind is so much bigger than these fearful thoughts – you are so much bigger than your thoughts (which are barely real in the first place) They do not need to dictate your actions or constrict your behavior. They do not need to limit your freedom. But it does require some work and effort to ensure that they don’t. I hope that you will do something to ease your suffering and live your life with more freedom and spontaneity. May you be happy!




    Dig deep and even deeper about what your real concern is. We all at some point or another worry about what people think of us. Don’t try to stop it but entertain it for a bit and you will see just how silly it is. For example, if I worry people will think I am incompetent. Then I say to myself, John whom I really like thinks I am incompetent, this must be true. If he thinks I am incompetent, does this mean I am unimportant? Does this mean I am a failure? And what if I am a failure and unimportant? Then what? Does this make me unlovable or unlikable? And what if I am unlovable or unlikable? Well, then I might be lonely? And if I am lonely then what? If no one is around does this mean I cease to exist? Will this be the death of me? No. If I don’t have approval, validation, or love from others, will this be the end of me? No.

    Often times, we worry about what others think of us because deep down inside we just want approval and even deeper we just want love. We let the external world define our internal world. Funny, how the people we worry about the most are the ones we aren’t even that close to. It’s even funnier to think that if most of us are running around worried about what others think of us, then no one really has time to pass judgments on others. I noticed that I inserted thoughts I already had about myself into others people’s mind. These were my ill perceptions about myself not theirs. I am the one who thinks I am incompetent not John. We are our own worst critics, remember that.

    In our culture, we are dying to be liked. Just look at all of these people begging via cyber space to be liked via status updates or like my website or like this or like that. It is almost as if our survival depended upon it. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Try not to worry about people’s negative criticism or positive statements. Sometimes we can cling to the positive statements or attention that people say or give in order to find self worth and validation. So either way, good or bad, no need to worry about what others think. Put your energy elsewhere such as in caring about what you think about yourself. And if you don’t like what you think or how you feel about yourself work on transforming that. You are a pretty brave person. For someone so worried about what other’s think, you still had the courage to start this thread with the risk of getting negative criticism.

    Warm Regards and Namaste,


    • This reply was modified 9 years, 3 months ago by Zenhen.


    I know how painful and stifling it can be when we are hanging on other people’s words! I’m sorry for your suffering, but take heart… because there is always a path to freedom. When we don’t have a stable self esteem, we look for validation from others that we are good and worthy of connection. This is a slippery slope, because on one hand it is normal, correct and honorable to want to connect with others. On the other hand, it is painful and afflicting a mental wound when we make their words about us.

    For instance, one time I walked into a shop and told the girl behind the counter that her outfit looked nice. She said “yeah, its one of those days.” My immediate reaction was feeling rejected, as a heartfelt compliment was poorly received. However, as that settled and I stopped making it about me, I saw something different. Her words were clouded by her experiences, and what she saw was not what I offered. She saw a man hitting on her, and her response was defensive. I was not interested in her in that way, so I know that it was not arising from my side. Her words, emotional reactions and perceptions were about her, not about me. From there I was in a position to connect to her from her side, because I didn’t grasp onto her words for a feeling of worthiness of connection.

    This requires confidence and self knowing. If you know where you are physically, emotionally and mentally, then if some response from the environment is different than what a reasonable response might look like, it produces curiosity. “That’s interesting, I wonder why that response came from him or her.” Then instead of guessing, we can ask.

    To develop self knowing, a concentration meditation practice can help. Ajahn Jayasaro has a great video on YouTube called “counting breaths” which I recommend. Also, consider JD’s suggestion of metta practice. When we spend time genuinely wishing people happiness, independent of what their happiness might do for us, we quickly develop a stable and spacious mind.

    With warmth,


    I am sensing a disconnectedness
    a possible
    overly critical inner judge who is harmful to self but as much as we don’t like it is also overly critical of others

    Whether this really fits here or not I feel to share it

    I met an old man in a park who legally named himself after a buddhist teacher, Tilopa. Who also told me he is not a buddhist 😉

    So we had a few talks and one time I ask him if I can ask him a serious question that bothers me..

    I said I am 40+ years old now and still have upset feelings towards my family and the way I was raised. Why do I feel this way after so long..
    “Because you like to feel that way”
    So, then I asked him .. I need to have compassion for my parents and the hardships they must have gone through to have such a struggle being kind to their child? And for the struggles they faced with alcohol and money and such…
    @@@No, you need compassion for you!@@@

    I really like Tilopa and have been working on self compassion.. maybe not as much as I could..

    Why bring it up.. we are all unique but very the same.. most all people had to overcome x y and z.. see them as having compassionate replies..

    This may be something deeper as others are saying..

    A wrongful perception of self-worth?
    Recognizing there are some things in your life you are not putting much effort into?
    I struggle with definitely sensing a better direction for myself and then NOT taking it..

    pickup some books on public speaking

    I used to love to sing as a kid..
    In college I took a speech class and it really rocked



    I have not viewed this video but his others on this topic are very good

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