A fear of how other people perceive us is quite common and natural from an evolutionary perspective. How others perceive us is going to affect our social status, ability to reproduce, etc. in more violent times being judged harshly by our tribe could have meant being attacked by the tribe our abandoned and left to defend ourselves in the wild. We’re hard wired to worry what other people think of us but the majority of people are able to live quite functionally with this fear while others will suffer from crippling anxiety and agoraphobia.
What Causes A Fear Of Being Judged?
Why is this fear worse for some than others? The quick answer is past experience, a fear of how we are perceived by others often comes from being bullied as a child or living in an abusive situation. It’s going to be a very common fear for children who grow up in dysfunctional environments, with narcissistic parents or family members.
When we are children we are looking to the adults around us, especially our mother or what Bradshaw would call the “mothering person” to us to help us understand the world and ourselves.A baby needs their mothering person to act as a mirror to them, to help them co-regulate their emotions, make them feel loved and accepted.
The relationship with the mother is going to form the foundation of all future relationships including the relationship with themselves. A child is going to learn to perceive and treat themselves in the same way they were perceived and treated as a child. If we don’t feel loved and accepted as children we internalise it, think it means there is something wrong with us and fear abandonment as adults.
Scapegoat or Black Sheep Family Roles
Most of us take on family roles in childhood, narcissistic parents and families will often assign a child with the family role of scapegoat, the scapegoat child will be an easy target for all their toxic shame. All abuse is the transfer of shame and this kind of trauma is often generational. Growing up with such a family is going to cause negative self talk. As I explain in this post, “Negative self talk is an inner dialogue that you have with yourself. An inner critic, a hijacked super ego, an internalised abuser.” This internalised abuser is going to continue attacking and putting you down the same way you were attacked and put down as a child. It’s going to tell you stories about how other people are judging and talking about you behind your back.
Why Do You Want To Be Liked By Judgemental People Anyway?
People who judge others and talk about them behind their back aren’t good people to know, as I said at the beginning of this post no one wants to feel judged. If someone is judging you negatively it will likely be their own insecurities that they are projecting onto you, because they feel insecure in themselves and who they are they find fault and put others down as a means to make themselves feel better. In many posts on my blog I talk about toxic shame, how it makes us act in or act out, someone who is negatively judging and gossiping about others is acting out.
Growing up with narcissistic families will normalise such behaviour for us, it will make us think that everyone judges and talks about others behind their backs. The truth is that only toxic, and ignorant people judge others. Someone who is judging you is going to be trying to distract themselves from their own insecurities. It’s a codependent response to want to be liked by everyone. I have a post on codependency here.
What Can We Do To Overcome This Fear Of Judgement?
I grew up with an extremely narcissistic family that made me a scapegoat for all their toxic shame. I suffered with quite extreme social anxiety and developed all kinds of toxic coping strategies but I was able to overcome a fear of being judged by others and although I would rather of grown up around non-toxic adults I don’t see my experiences as a bad thing because I learnt to let go of all fear of judgement and worries of others thought of me.
I overcame the fear of what others thought of me by releasing trauma, trauma causes toxic shame, it causes us to act in or out and it also causes us to project past experiences onto others. If you have traumatic memories of being judged in the past, that trauma is going to cause you to project those experiences onto present situations and may make you think you are being judged harshly when you are not. Many trauma sufferers have found my PTSD hypnosis download to be very helpful.
I learnt to become a good enough parent to myself to accept and love myself unconditionally, I talk more about inner child healing to increase self love and self acceptance in this post here.I learnt to identify my values and I stick to them. I also learnt not to judge others, as I said above and talk about on my shadow work workshop. When we are judging others it’s usually a trait or part of us that we have been shamed out of, we can identify and reintegrate all these parts with shadow work. Lastly I don’t engage in gossip, if someone talks with you about others, they will be talking with others about you so I avoid gossip and gossipers.