Worried about what “Everybody” will think? Here’s how to stop

Hello Inkling tribe,

In this episode of Inkling TV I talk about a phenomenon that I see holding us back from living courageous and authentic lives. Yes my friends, I am referring to the well-known but extremely unhelpful ‘what will “Everybody” think’ story. This is not about being thoughtful, kind and considerate of others’ needs. This is where we are so overly concerned with the views of others’ that we self-sacrifice our own needs, often to the detriment of our own joy, fulfillment and success.

This week I share a technique to let go of your fears about what “Everybody” will think so that you can get on with living your true potential.

Here is how I see the ‘what will “Everybody” think’ story getting in the way:

1.     We stall on making important and courageous decisions – and even worse, we sometimes don't make them at all. What will “Everybody” think if…

  • I quit my job; I don't even have another job to go to? People will think I am crazy!
  • I start my own business? Heck I don't know the first thing about how to run a successful business.
  • I get divorced/come out/never get married?
  • I apply for that leadership position? I am so much younger than anyone in the leadership team.

2.     We hide our authentic selves. In our efforts to ‘fit in’ we change ourselves to better suit what we think others will like:

  • A woman in one of our programs received feedback from the group on her warm and bubbly style. This feedback instantly brought her to tears. She bravely revealed to the group that she liked being strong, direct and powerful but put on the ‘nice girl’ act at work because she feared others might not like her assertive style.
  • Another woman in a corporate law role hid her true self from her colleagues because she feared that if they knew her real self (a live band enthusiast who wears alternative clothing and enjoys drinking a few pints and dancing freely) they would never listen to her advice.

3.     We don't put ourselves out there. My-oh-my I truly wonder all the things that could have occurred on this Earth if we were not paralysed by our fears of how others will judge us. We would feel free to:

  • Disagree with our colleagues on an important business decision
  • Pitch ideas that will make a difference to our teams/ workplaces/ communities
  • Have difficult conversations about how we feel in order to improve our relationships with our colleagues and loved ones
  • Ask for something we need: a pay rise, flexible working; more opportunities to play to our strengths.

I want to be clear here, I am not suggesting we take a ‘who cares’ approach to our lives, where we stop caring altogether. Because we are social creatures who need others to live happy and fulfilled lives it is very important that we consider how our actions impact others. We also will need to make sacrifices sometimes for the people we love, the passions we have and the missions we are working towards. We don’t, however, want to spend our lives sacrificing our own needs because we fear others will judge us.

Research actually suggests that people are thinking of us half as much as we think they are, so chances are people will actually think NOTHING about you in the situations you are worried about.  Even more importantly, living a courageous and authentic life means we are not always going to ‘fit in’, and not everyone is going to approve of us. In fact it is completely impossible to achieve this even if you try. So you are better off letting go of the fear of judgement and being true to yourself.

Much love

Sophie Hampel and the Inkling Women team