I don’t know about you, but there have been times when I’ve experienced a lot of self-doubt. It’s often related to whether I’m “good enough” at what I do, and I find myself questioning how to stop worrying about what other people think.
My self-doubt has held me back at certain points over the years. I’ve struggled to value myself and believe in my abilities, so often I was hesitant to try new things for fear of failure.
For example, when I first decided to write a blog I was excited at the prospect of writing, but fearful of what other people would think. Would my posts be “good enough” for others to read? Would they be of help to others?
These fears almost stopped me from writing a blog altogether.
Being a perfectionist
My difficulty has been that I tend get stuck in thinking there’s always something to improve. I’ve been a perfectionist for as long as I can remember.
The concept of ‘perfect’ is interesting because perfection is very subjective. Therefore, is it really possible to achieve it?
Over the years I’ve had to learn to “let go” of perfectionism and aim for “good enough”. University essays were always a trigger for my perfectionism, but over time I managed to aim for doing ‘enough to pass’ rather than feeling the need to get outstanding grades.
Tackling unhelpful thinking patterns
I’ve questioned many times how to stop worrying about what other people think. I’m well aware of how unhelpful thoughts can affect how we feel and what we do. Therefore, I’ve found it’s important to try to change what we’re thinking which can help to change what we feel. I cover more about that here.
I’ve worked on taking my own advice to come up with more balanced thoughts to my worries. For example, not everyone is going to like my blog posts. Some people might find them helpful, and other less so, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t write them.
Whatever people’s views, if we worry about them we will end up feeling paralysed and never doing the things we want to do. We cannot please everyone, so by that logic if we’re going to do things and can’t possibly make everyone happy, why don’t we just get on and do them?!
And as for fear of failure, this quote from the actor and comedian Jim Carrey really resonated with me:
“My father could have been a great comedian, but he didn’t believe that was possible for him…I learned many great lessons from my father, not the least of which is that you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.”
How to stop worrying about what other people think
I don’t really think there’s an answer for how to stop worrying about what other people think.
The worry may not go away. However, by allowing it to control you, you risk not moving forward with the things you’re passionate about. You risk standing still and not pursuing the things that mean a lot to you.
I come back to a mantra I’ve used so often in my life: “Feel the fear and do it anyway”, from the book by Susan Jeffers.
We may never be able to stop the anxiety that is evoked at the prospect of trying out new things. There may always be some apprehension over what people are going to think or whether we’ll be good enough.
So why not allow that anxiety to be there, but go ahead and do what we want to do anyway? What’s the worst that can happen?