Ask The Therapist: “How can I overcome the fear of judgment?”

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In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, or simply need advice about their problems, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained counsellor. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

“How to get over the fear of judgment?”

Haya’s Response:

Dear Anonymous,

Many people are plagued with the thought: “What will others think?” “Log kya kahenge?” But trust me, you are not alone in feeling this way.

This fear of judgement that we face varies from person to person. You may have a particular fear of judgment in a certain area of your life, while someone else may have a different fear of judgement in a different area of their life.  But the common factor is always this fear of judgement.

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What causes this fear?

To find out whether you’re living with this fear, you have to self-evaluate your life. Think of your ideal self – the way you’d want to live if you were living in an ideal world. How close or far are you from that? If there’s a gap between your current life and your ideal life, could it be the fear of judgment getting your way? Are you afraid of what certain people might think or what certain situations can cause? Pause and reflect.

When you’re constantly thinking of other’s opinions of yourself, you’re automatically living to please them, not yourself. You’re looking for approval and acceptance from others in society. There’s a desire to be liked by everyone at all times because the alternative is unfathomable. Seeking validation from a few close ones is not a bad thing; it’s human nature. But when it gets to a point where it’s hindering your life and stopping you from being who you want to be, it can be a problem. At its core, this fear comes from a place of insecurity. You don’t feel worthy of anything or good enough for anyone and project it on yourself. Even if no one is judging you, you’re so caught up in emotions such as fear, anger and shame, that you feel judged all the time.

How do we get over this fear?

1. Become Self-Aware

The first step is to become aware of the fact that you’re judging yourself, which is what’s causing this fear. Be cognizant of the language you’re using for yourself and for others. We’re often very critical of ourselves and this leads to a fear of being judged.

2. Change your language

Once you know the language you speak to yourself in, it’s time to change it to be more positive. Make an effort to be kind to yourself and others. This will improve how you see yourself and will prevent you from judging others as well. You may have been criticizing yourself for years; try approving of yourself and see what happens.

3. Embrace it

Remember, the most important relationship you have is the one with yourself. So love yourself for who you are, even if you make mistakes. You’re human; humans slip up. It’s okay! Make peace with you choices and own them – because if youdon’t, no one else will. If you have confidence in yourself, the judgment you fear will automatically disappear.

4. Stay away from toxic people

There may be certain people that will make you feel worthless, irrespective of how confident you are in yourself. Stay away from those people. When people judge you, it’s more about their relationship with themselves rather than a reflection of you. It’s a result of their own insecurities, not you. But there’s still no need to put yourself in a situation that will make you second-guess yourself, so keep the toxic people out of your life.

Freedom is a state of mind, not a destination. And when you are your authentic self, you give yourself the ability to be free – free of judgment from others. We often put conditions to feeling free: “When I achieve this, I will be free,” or “When I reach this point in life, I will be free.”  But you don’t need these conditions; you can choose to feel free at any point of your life.  Giving yourself that power will free you from the fear of judgment.

You have the power to achieve greatness and create anything you want in life. Just take the first step!

Good luck!

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