The fear of being judged is a tangible, persistent anxiety that affects many people. This sort of distress may grow into a mental health condition known as social anxiety disorder or social phobia.

But why do so many of us have a sense of dread that other people will judge us, and how do we circumvent this trait to live confidently?

Reasons We Fear Being Judged

There are multiple types of anxiety disorders. Some are reasonably mild and manageable, whereas others are crippling.

Most such conditions stem from disordered thinking. That means that it requires work on yourself and your internal thought processes to turn the trend around.

No external factor will change your emotional health or impact your mind as profoundly as you can.

Some of the most common reasons to experience this sort of fear of being judged are that:

  • We all want to be thought highly of in any social scenario.
  • We suffer from imposter syndrome and think that we’ll be ‘found out’ if people judge us.
  • We lack confidence, self-esteem, and clear, positive thinking.
  • We feel inferior to others, or that we aren’t performing as well.
  • We have deep-seated anxieties that we believe others can see.

Much of the time, if you fear being judged regularly, you might foster several of the above thought processes.

What Is the Difference Between a ‘Normal’ Fear of Being Judged and Social Anxiety?

If you feel a low-level sense of apprehension about entering a room full of people or wanting to make a good impression at a job interview, that isn’t necessarily a sign of social phobia.

It’s normal to feel nervous in some scenarios, which often depends on the situation’s potential outcome. Most people tend to experience the fear of being judged in certain social situations. In this case, it’s a ‘normal’ aspect of this fear that is present in mentally healthy individuals and stems from our innate need to be accepted by other human beings.

However, you may be suffering from social anxiety if any of the below symptoms occur regularly, particularly when you are meeting people you know or are going somewhere that is part of your routine:

  • Suffering from sweaty palms, nausea, or a racing heart rate.
  • Feeling that your mind has gone blank and being unable to speak.
  • Trying to hide, speak quietly, and be as unnoticeable as possible.
  • Feeling intense embarrassment in company.
  • Avoiding interactions and social situations altogether.

Working on techniques to manage nerves can help in some cases. Still, if you find yourself avoiding social events, going out of your way not to have to speak to people, or minimizing your interactions with others, it might be more serious.

8 Signs That Fear of Being Judged Is Ruining Your Life

safety bias social anxiety

Suppose you recognize that social phobias are having a detrimental impact on your life. In that case, it is crucial to seek professional support, or at the very least, start the dialogue of recognizing your fears so you can begin to address them.

Signs that this fear of judgment is damaging your life include:

  1. Avoiding going to events, even those you want to attend, because you are afraid of interacting with people.
  2. Alternatively, you try to convince yourself you don’t wish to leave the house to avoid the inner debate about choosing not to attend.
  3. If you cut your hair, buy new clothes, or change your appearance, you feel afraid to leave the house for fear of being judged.
  4. You assume that people don’t wish to be your friend and feel left out of social situations.
  5. Your dating life is non-existent, and you lack the confidence to even think about finding a partner or mixing with single people.
  6. In your head, you firmly believe that everybody you know – from colleagues to family members – look down on you.
  7. You’re convinced that strangers are staring at you and that people murmuring are whispering about you.
  8. Social media is a source of extreme anxiety, and you feel pressure to edit anything you post so that it is perceived as ‘faultless’.

The problem with any of these symptoms is that they won’t go away on their own.

Closing yourself off from the world, avoiding any situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, and trying to cope with persistent feelings of anxiety will take a severe toll on your life opportunities and mental health.

Ways to Overcome Social Fears

Should you be worried that fear of being judged is damaging your life, now is the time to act.

Everybody has good points and bad points, things they are proud of and things they are not.

If you only focus on the negatives, you need to address your thinking patterns to stop dwelling on the ‘downsides’ and appreciate the positive qualities you bring to the world.

Some of the options to work on your fear of being judged include:

  • Relaxation techniques to calm your nerves and empower you to accept invitations, attend events, and contact other people.
  • Seeking professional counseling or therapy to work through underlying reasons for your fears and create coping mechanisms to manage them.
  • Looking for medical support to treat anxiety, which has a severe impact, particularly if you have a history of depression or any other mental health condition.
  • Avoiding people you know to be vocally dismissive or unkind to others – being around negativity will only exacerbate your fears.
  • Talking to your friends, family, and colleagues to try and explain the anxieties you experience. Many others may share similar experiences and can form an understanding of why sometimes you find it challenging to participate in conversations.
  • Joining support groups to meet people with similar social anxieties.

Nobody should spend their lives feeling afraid. And so, if you think that your fear of being judged is getting worse or is developing into social phobia, you need to take action to start taking back control of your life.

By and large, people aren’t talking about you, and they aren’t judging either.

It is easy to convince yourself that you are being judged, but the reality is that this is simply a manifestation of your own inner criticism and has no bearing on the feelings that other people have towards you.

References:

  1. https://www.nimh.nih.gov
  2. https://www.nhs.uk
Lauren Edwards-Fowle, M.Sc., B.Sc.

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