Why do we care what people think of us? Everybody is entitled to have their own opinions and to express them, quietly, intellectually, forcefully or with great passion having a profound influence and affect on people’s lives. But what if being afraid of what people think stops us from moving forwards? From pursuing our dreams?

Isn’t it worth digging a little deeper to see why somebody else’s thoughts are more important to you than your own?

I recently read somewhere that someone’s opinion isn’t a fact. I’ve found this a useful phrase to keep in mind especially in relation to social media as everybody claims and owns their messages with such alacrity and aplomb that it feels there’s no room for manoeuvre or discussion at times.

There are a number of reasons why we worry about what people will think of us – in case we’re humiliated, picked on, they don’t like us, might confront us or we don’t want that uncomfortable feeling or that they may feel discomfort too – better to be nice, neutral and please people.

I can think of several times in my life where the fear of what somebody might say to me or think of me has dominated my thoughts to such an extent that it’s paralysed me to nearly not do something, change my mind and stay quiet.

At the weekend I made an instinctive decision to volunteer to dance in front of 40 people to a piece of music. I stepped forward before my ego had time to talk me out of it. Once in the middle with 3 others there was no going back. Fear was abated. The music started and I felt the tension in my body as I contacted the power of the fire element, before exploding back down to earth and dancing wildly with all my body, my feet firmly planted on the ground supporting me. And I danced like nobody was watching me. And later what did I receive? Judgment? Criticism? No just praise and compliments.

The fear of what people think of us really holds us back from fulfilling our greatest potential and living fulfilled lives. But what if in reality people are actually feeling the exact opposite of what you think they might be thinking? We can never be truly sure of another person’s thoughts can we? We’re second guessing their reactions and often get it wrong. Fire can either be smouldering embers or powerful engulfing heat filled flames. We need both at different times in our days, weeks and lives.

First comes awareness and then comes action. If the fear of what others think of you is holding you back then maybe it’s time to jump into the fire rather than dance around it?

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