Do You Worry That Those You Care About Will See You Differently? – Stop Self-Silencing EP #5

By Fifi Mason

Have you ever avoided sharing a personal experience or a strong opinion that might not sit well with your family, friends, or peers?

This is a challenge that many of us quieter types wrestle with – the worry that those we care about will see us differently, will change their opinion of us, if we start to share more of ourselves: our thoughts, ideas, opinions, and possibly our personality.

This fear is especially common in people who are naturally more reserved. It’s born out of the concern that our authentic self, if different from what people are accustomed to, might lead to judgment or misunderstanding. There’s this underlying worry that being our true selves might alter how we’re perceived by those whose opinions we value deeply.

It’s different from the concern about what strangers think. With strangers, we can often brush off their judgments. But with family, friends, industry peers, or clients, their perception of a ‘new’ side of us carries more weight.

You might fear that family will question your changed perspectives or that friends might distance themselves.

There’s also the concern that professional peers or clients might view you differently for your beliefs or experiences, which could impact your livelihood.

Often, this fear is just that – a fear, a perception in our minds rather than a reality. But it holds power over how we express ourselves.

Understanding the Fear of Judgement

The roots of this fear go deep. It’s an almost instinctual drive stemming from a primal need not to be ostracised. Historically, being cast out from our tribe or community could mean danger, even death.

But let’s delve deeper into why this fear of judgment from those important to us holds such power.

For one, these are people whose opinions we respect and value. Their validation, acceptance, and understanding matter to us on a fundamental level.

It’s not just about avoiding negative judgments; it’s about preserving our place and our bonds within these crucial circles of our lives.

Another key point here is the emotional investment we have in these relationships.

For many of us, the thought of straining or altering these connections can be daunting. Our family, friends, and people we are close to aren’t just people we interact with; they are integral parts of our support system, our daily lives, and in some ways, our identity.

When we fear their judgment, it’s not just about losing their approval, but it’s also about the potential shift in how we connect and relate with them. We fear that showing our true selves might change the dynamics of these relationships that we cherish and rely upon.

Overcoming the Fear of Judgement

So, how do we start to navigate around this fear of judgement and rejection. Here are three ways to get started:

1. Take Small Steps:

To begin overcoming this fear, it’s all about taking small, manageable steps. Start by sharing your thoughts and opinions on less controversial topics with friends and family. 

It’s about finding a safe space where you can begin to peel back the layers of your authentic self. Build a strong support circle – It surprises me how many people start a business (coaches, or service-providers) and don’t tell family and friends, don’t have a partner or spouse to talk to about things. 

Being more open here is a first step many people fail to take. But even if that’s not an option, it’s about surrounding yourself with people who are in alignment with you and your values.

2. Reframing:

When we worry, we often think of the worst-case scenario. This simple reframing technique can help give you a fresh perspective. 

Ask yourself these three questions: 

  • What’s the best that could happen? 
  • What’s the worst that could happen? 
  • What’s most likely to happen? 

When we start to think about what is most likely to happen, it’s never as bad as it seems.

3. Lead with Curiosity:

The final point is if you do face judgment from someone you care about (if they question it, don’t agree, show concern), approach it with curiosity rather than defensiveness. 

Try to understand where they’re coming from. Often, their reactions stem from a place of care or misunderstanding, not malice.

You Don’t Have to Feel This Way

If you resonate with this, you’re not alone. From my years of observation and conversations, this is the most common reason people self-silence.

I want you to remember, you can move past it; it’s about taking those small steps and building a supportive circle.

For more insights, check out my book “Stop Self-Silencing”, and if you want support from me to help you on your visibility journey as an impact maker or coach, join my mini-membership The Visibility Lab.

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