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Published on June 12, 2019

Do You Have a Fear of Disappointing Others? How to Conquer It for Good

Do You Have a Fear of Disappointing Others? How to Conquer It for Good

It’s completely normal to care and worry, but once we allow the fear of disappointing others to take over, we’re simply hitting our own head against the wall.

Somewhere along the way, society seems to have glorified this feeling to be something positive as it means you care, but the fear of disappointing others can be a powerful negative emotion that can eat away from your own happiness.

This article takes you through 6 steps that will help you conquer the fear of disappointing others.

1. Accept You’ll Never Be Enough (In the Eyes of Others)

This may sound harsh, but it’s important to remember that if your goal is to please everyone – then you’re setting yourself up to fail. Even if you act exactly (how you think is) right, there will always be people with different perspectives and views on how things should be. The idea that you can please everyone is unfortunately delusional, because it’s simply impossible.

Strangers, family, and friends all have different ideas about what’s wrong or right. Their idea of good behavior might be somewhat close to each other, or really really far away from each other – in the end it doesn’t matter, because they will never completely align with each other which means you will always fail and disappoint someone.

Mark Manson explains our differences as humans like this:[1]

”The questions is not whether we evaluate ourselves against others; rather, the question is by what stand do we measure ourselves.” 

So, to sum up this theory: We measure everything from success to happiness (and in this case what’s wrong or right) completely different. We have different values, which means we measure things according to own (different) metrics.

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We like the idea of perfection, but as soon as we realize we’re most definitely not anywhere near that, and we won’t ever be enough in everyone’s eyes, then you can start growing and letting go of the fear.

2. Really Push Yourself out of Your Comfort Zone

A comfort zone is nice and comfy, but it stands in the way of growth. We can’t ever move forward and go further, if we stand still – and that’s exactly what you do in your comfort zone. You’re standing still in a frozen moment that you’re familiar with and know all too well.

Sometimes the only way to conquer fear is through pushing yourself into uncomfortable situations, but it can of course be extremely scary to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Start out with something small. It can be a task that you’ve been putting off, because the whole idea of this scenario makes you feel uncomfortable. It can be anything from telling your partner something that’s been on your mind (but you’re afraid of their reaction or letting them down) to taking a fitness class that you feel you aren’t fit enough to take.

We all started out with baby steps once.

Even when you just push yourself to do one little thing, you’ll be left with a big relief and feel much stronger, because nine out of ten times it’s never as scary or uncomfortable as we had imagined in our head. After you’ve felt how good it feels to conquer you fears – big or small – you’ll automatically want to challenge yourself more and more.

If you’re still wondering if it’s necessary to step out of your comfort zone, here’s the answer for you.

3. Analyze Your Behavior

Sometimes we need to take a step back and take a look at ourselves. Why are your reaction like this? Where does your fear come from? Do you get anxious about it and why?

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It helps to take a deeper look. Therapy can be a great option if you want another (and professional) perspective, or you can try to go back and look at your past yourself.

The fear of disappointing others is very normal, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not a trait in ourselves that has been created because of our childhood, a trauma, or past relationships. The way we react to others is often more about ourselves than them.

One example of our behavior towards others can be explained through the attachment theory:[2]

”The basic premise is that we’re not all the same when it comes to intimacy and commitment. Instead, we each have a relatively consistent ‘attachment style… This, the theory claims, is largely down to our upbringing. But it can also be influenced in later life by our adult relationships, seeing a psychologist or suffering trauma.”

While this attachment theory takes premise in romantic relationships and how we react to intimacy and commitment, the theory is still very useful when you’re trying to understand why you have a fear of disappointing others around you.

The attachment theory has different attachment styles that relates back to our upbringing. If you take a closer look at the different styles and how the types react in situations, it’s fairly easy to place yourself. This will help you get a better understanding of yourself, as well as why you react a certain way, and where this fear comes from.

4. Set up Boundaries

It’s important to set up boundaries in your life, especially emotional boundaries. Don’t let people mistake your kindness for weakness.

If you’re reading this, then you’re most likely interested in pleasing people around you. Which is definitely not a bad thing. You want to make people happy and you enjoy helping others, but if you’re always acting this way towards everyone, then you’ll come across people who’ll take advantage of it at one point.

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Take a look at the different relationships in your life and learn to set up boundaries: How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

5. Don’t Personalize People’s Reactions

The reason why someone reacts or acts towards you in a certain way may often not even be about you. You may be fearful of saying no to someone, because you fear their reaction, but how do you know the reaction you’ll get it based on you and not other factors?

Let’s say a person invites you to a party and you’re afraid of saying no, because it would disappoint them – how do you actually know this? Maybe you’re telling yourself that you know this person and therefore you know they’ll react negatively, or you’ve seen them react a certain way towards another person that said no, but maybe none of this had anything to do with you and whether or not you’re disappointing them.

The person might react angry or upset to the outside world simply because that’s how this person reacts to news that don’t align with their plan (but this doesn’t mean they think anything negatively about you). Or the person might seem upset, because they don’t want to jump up and down of joy after you just told them you weren’t showing up.

Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D explains it like this:[3]

“Personalization sounds like this: If I don’t get what I want it means I am not good enough and don’t deserve it. When you overly personalize a disappointment, you make it about who you are as a person and do not take into account the many situational factors that had nothing to do with you”.

Don’t (over) analyze situations and personalize people’s reactions to your actions. Base your actions on your values and what you know.

6. Revaluate Your Own Values

If you want to let go of the fear of disappointing others, then you need to figure out who you are exactly first. What are your values? What do you want to stand for? Are you acting accordingly to who you want to be – and if not – what can you do to change this?

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Our own core values are tricky to figure out completely. It takes time and it’s a never-ending process, because we (hopefully) don’t ever stop moving and growing. We change over time; we grow and so does our mind.

But if we don’t take the necessary time to get to know ourselves, revaluate our values, and understand what we want for ourselves, then we’ll fall into the pressure of what others think and we’ll get easily effected by their opinion of us.

If you’d like to figure out your own values better, take a look at this article: Knowing My Values Has Filled up the Long-Existed Missing Gap in My Life

The Bottom Line

Fear can be scary and overwhelming, so we need to be able to go back to our gut instinct and rely on that.

The more comfortable and good you feel about your own actions, the easier it will be to let go of the stress and fear of disappointing others.

In the end, people may not be pleased with your actions – but this way you will be.

More About Conquering Fear

Featured photo credit: Eye for Ebony via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Maria Jensen

Specializes in personal and professional development.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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