How to get past your fear of what others think
I worry about what other people think of me.
Recently I was telling a friend how I wanted to share more personal stories on Instagram. You know - the nitty gritty, real life stuff. She asked me why I wasn’t doing that. And I said, I was worried about what other people would think of me. More specifically - what my friends would think of me.
She pressed me further: “What is the worst thing that could happen if you share?”
“My friends will think I’m silly,” I replied.
“Silly?” She continued. “That’s the word that makes your insecurity scream? What else?”
“Unqualified. I don’t want to annoy people,” I listed of reasons why I hadn’t shared.
“Has anyone ever said any of those things to you?” She continued.
“Nope,” I said.
“So they’re in your head?” She said.
We continued the conversation, naming the lies I was believing and kicking them to the curb.
You see, I’d been sharing my stories on my community blog @sheislight for years. But there was something about coming out from behind a logo and sharing with the people I cared about as myself that frightened me.
Our society screams “Don’t worry about what others think, do what you want!”
But the truth is that deep down, we all care. Because we care about people.
But we have to decide whether our care about what others think will trump everything else and dictate the way we live.
Because if we allow our worry about what others think to come first, we’ll live from that place - always trying to please others.
Who are you living to please?
Maybe it’s your parents who really want you to study medicine and you’re doing it because you’re afraid of what they’ll think if you choose a creative arts degree. Maybe it’s the girls at college and you change who you are when you’re around them just to fit in. Or maybe it’s your boss at work who you’re constantly trying to prove to that you’re qualified for the job because you’re worried you aren’t.
Your fear of what others think is holding you back.
For me, fear of what other people think has held me back from sharing honestly with others. I had an image of what God wanted to do through me, but I was too afraid to act.
Maybe, like me, you feel God’s placed something on your heart but you’re too afraid to do anything about it.
You see, when we live to please people, we settle for less than what God has for us.
In Galatians 1:10, Paul asks a serious question.
“For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m so frustrated with living through the lens of “what will they think of me?”
I want to live to please God, not people
It’s not easy to live to please God. I think it’s much more comfortable to try and fit in and be who others want you to be. But while God may be the God of comfort (see 2 Corinthians 1:3), he’s not the God of the comfortable.
In fact, countless times in the Bible we see people who were afraid but who stepped out anyway. Esther is one significant example of this. When faced with the fact that her people, the Jews, were going to die, she had a choice to approach the King to plead for her people’s lives, knowing that he may not extend his golden scepter and that she might die. Or she could choose to let fear rule, not approach the king and consequently see her people perish.
This may seem like an extreme example, because it is. Esther’s life was on the line. But she chose to step out anyway.
Now there aren’t many situations where your life or mine would be on the line. That’s not something that most of us would face in our lifetime. But we do encounter fear - be it fear of what others think or fear of failure or any other fear. And we have a choice, to hide away in the shadows and not do the things God has called us to do, or to step out afraid, trusting in God and living to please him. I’m committed to living for the approval of God over man no matter how uncomfortable it gets. Will you join me?
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