We’re social creatures. We crave approval from others. It’s human nature. But sometimes the desire for approval can be debilitating and may prevent us from realizing our true potential. It’s hard to expose yourself to judgment and potential ridicule, but if you try to be liked by everyone, you’re not going to truly impress anyone. More importantly, you’re not going to stand in your personal power in a way that yields authentic fulfillment. I see so many people–kids, teens, and adults–shrink themselves because they’re afraid of what other people will think. This gets in the way of true happiness, so I’ve come up with a few suggestions for how to let go of the need for approval.

  1. Be Less Judgmental: We all have our moments of passing judgment on others, of thinking “who does she think she is?” or “I can’t believe he did that!” Make an effort to notice when you do this and ask yourself if it’s truly necessary. Why do you care? Do you really have all of the information to fully comprehend someone else’s choices? Does it even concern you? When we occupy our mind with unnecessary criticism and judgment, we become more attuned to that energy and, therefore, hyperaware of when it may be happening to us. If you spend less time judging others, you will be less concerned about other people judging you.
  2. Avoid Gossip: Gossiping is just audible, conversational judging. Same as above–the less you do it, the less concerned you’ll be about it happening to you. If you’re with someone who begins to gossip, simply change the subject to something more meaningful. Let’s all make an effort to raise humanity to higher consciousness–you can begin by refraining from petty, useless dialogue.
  3. Check your Ego: The truth is, most people are too concerned with their own lives to truly care about what you’re doing. Sure, some may judge or gossip for amusement or because of their own jealousy or insecurity, but when it really comes down to it, most people are far more wrapped up in their own drama to concern themselves with yours. Life really isn’t all about you.
  4. Build Yourself Up: Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone embarrasses themselves from time to time. Make an effort to praise and acknowledge your wins instead of analyzing or ruminating about your losses. Every time you notice yourself thinking a self-deprecating thought, replace it with an affirmation or personal compliment. You’re just as awesome as anyone else. Don’t forget that!
  5. Build Others Up: Support others. Praise and compliment others. Create communities of encouragement. Again, this elevates our collective consciousness. We develop the courage to be authentic when we can trust others to be sympathetic and nurturing. So be one to offer that.

I was an extremely shy child. I hardly spoke. My fear of judgment debilitated my social life and prevented me from realizing my strengths and talents. I grew more sociable as I got older, but never felt comfortable being the center of attention. I used aliases on social media and had generic profile photos because I didn’t want to be seen. I even disliked walking down the aisle on my wedding day because I was uncomfortable with everyone looking at me!

Recently, I have pushed myself way out of my comfort zone. I have exposed myself to the world online through writing (like right now, for example) and video (I have a YouTube channel for crying out loud), and in various other ways. I know there are people judging me (ahem, small minded people). There are people who don’t like me. For a former, non-confrontational, highly sensitive people pleaser, this can sometimes be challenging. But I care less and less every day. Because being authentic has become more important to me than avoiding criticism. Because I believe that I have something valuable to offer the world, and holding myself back and staying small isn’t going to make an impact. Because it makes me happy to make a positive difference in the world. Whether I succeed or fail at that endeavor, at least I can say that I tried. Bottom line–life is too short to waste time worrying about what other people think. If I can get over it, so can you!

So… how has your fear of judgment been holding YOU back? What are you going to do to stand more firmly in your personal power and be your authentic self?

I would love to hear your responses to these questions, and if you have other suggestions for how to stop giving a fuck about what other people think of you, please comment and let us know!

Adina Arden Cooper

I'm a lover, a guide and a supportive companion. An artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals connect more deeply with themselves and with others through shadow work. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.