Confronting the Fear of Judgement

May 16, 2020shemindfully

Recently I decided it was time to go public with my blog. After weeks of anxious contemplation about whether I wanted to share this platform with people I know personally, I decided to confront my fear of judgement and embrace vulnerability. There are many factors that went into this decision, but thus far, I can say that I am so glad (and proud!) that I did.

All too often we let the fear of being judged negatively hold us back from reaching for our goals. There is that ever-present stream of consciousness telling us we aren’t good enough, or smart enough, or ready enough to pursue whatever it is. I’m here to tell you that stream is wrong.

Confront Your Inner Critic

At the end of the day, our inner voice is going to be a lot louder and a lot stronger than the voices of other people around us. If we do not believe in our own capabilities, then we will not succeed. It’s as simple as that. In order to achieve greatness you need to believe in yourself. It sounds really cheesy (trust me, I know) but it is rooted in truth.

We develop these beliefs over time that limit our views. These are referred to as limiting beliefs (creative, right?). A lot of therapy focuses on addressing these limiting beliefs and making adjustments to our thought processes in order to stop engaging with these beliefs. I could spend hours talking about how to go about this, but I’ll do us both a favor and keep it brief.


Any time you start to have a thought that decreases your value, take note and stop it in its tracks. With practice it will become a lot easier to notice these patterns and make the necessary adjustments. Let’s say a common limitation for you is the thought “I’m not smart enough, I don’t know anything about this stuff,” (anyone who has experienced college/grad school will probably be familiar with this gem). Let’s take this thought and reframe it. How can you make adjustments to this sentence to make it more uplifting and motivating?

Well, you could start with getting rid of the negatives. This would be your “not” and “don’t.” Follow this by eliminating the extreme, “anything.” What does this leave you with? “I’m smart enough, I know about this stuff.” Oh look!! What a lovely statement.

But really. Take away the negatives and the extremity from your self talk. Focusing on the negatives will only perpetuate a negative mindset and the focus on falling short. Eliminating the extremes allows you to acknowledge that life is lived in the grey area. Very few things in life can truly fall into the “always” and “never” categories. Whatever the person in our example is talking about, I’m sure they know something about it. Think about it. How many things do we truly know nothing about?

Take Note of Your Strengths

When we’re feeling the wrath of our inner critics, it can be easy to lose sight of the great things we have to offer. I challenge you to write down a list of 15-20 positive features about yourself. Try to diversify them! I’ve had clients try to cheat the system by writing down 15 things that they like about their appearance because that was one of the areas they felt confident.

The goal of this task is to really sit down and think positively. I’m sure you have much more to offer than your long hair or your bleach white teeth. What do you bring to your relationships? Include platonic, professional and romantic relationships here. When do you feel proud of yourself most? When do you feel like you’ve accomplished something? Use prompts like these to streamline your thought processes into positivity and away from negativity.

If you need help, see my previous post 52 Journal Prompts for Self Discovery

Put on Your Medal of Honor

It takes an immense amount of courage to be able to be vulnerable. This goes for any situation where you might be opening up a part of yourself to someone else. Courage, by definition, is the ability to do something that frightens one. Odds are, whatever you’re afraid you’ll be judged for is something that you feel passionately about in one way or another.

It’s time to don your badge of bravery and take a leap. Heading towards the unknown is both frightening and challenging for anyone. Think about all of the people you know that are unsettled by uncertainty (think quarantine here). All too often we let our thoughts about what we think is going to happen stand as a barrier between us and the goals we want to reach.

Photo by Bora Sözüer on Unsplash

Extinguish the Awfulising Beliefs

Let’s think like a Rational Emotive Behavior Therapist for a second. I want you to think about whatever it is that is making you so anxious about being judged.

Now, take this thought and think about the worst possible outcome of you taking this action. Ask yourself, if this scenario were to come true, would that really be so bad? If your answer is yes, absolutely awful and nothing could fix it, this section is for you.

If this rings a bell with you, you are engaging with an awfulising belief. You are believing that if this scenario were to happen, a) nothing could be worse, b) this scenario is worse than 100% bad, and c) no good could possible come from this bad event. However, this simply isn’t true. While it may feel like a personal tragedy at the time, you will overcome any adverse reaction and you will continue on with your life. Right now you may belief that you would struggle to overcome and be unable to come to terms with the result and transcend the significant impacts.

It is possible for people to transcend the catastrophe or tragedy and go on to live healthily and happily in the future.

Windy Dryden, How to Think and Intervene like an REBT Therapist

Boost Your Frustration Tolerance

Continuing along with REBT theory, it is thought that individuals fall into one of two categories: low frustration tolerance and high frustration tolerance. Low frustration tolerance would be thinking that you “could not bear it” if something were to occur. If you put yourself out there for the world to see your vulnerability, and you are faced with negative judgement, would you be able to bear and withstand this criticism?

Chances are, you totally will be able to bear it and, even if it’s uncomfortable for a period of time, move on from it. You are thinking from a low tolerance point of view, when realistically you should aim to think from a high frustration tolerance view. This view would be thinking something “is a struggle but I would be able to bear it.

Reflect on all of the things in your life to date that you had struggled with but eventually overcame. I’m sure you can create quite a list, and if you can’t, you’re not thinking hard enough. You’ve done so much that you probably thought you couldn’t at one point. Reflect on your triumphs and revel in the idea the you can overcome this, too.

Ask Yourself If It’s Worth It

At the end of the day, we can go on and on about how to reframe your beliefs to align with putting yourself out there to be vulnerable to judgement. But you need to ask yourself, “Is it worth it? Is this goal or action worth feeling uncomfortable and feeling judged? I absolutely do not mean that uncomfortable = bad. I’m referring to the negative outcomes being something insurmountable for a low reward. Ask yourself how much this action means to you, and how you would feel if you were successful. If this is something that will make you feel proud and accomplished, then hell yeah it’s worth feeling uncomfortable for a period of time when other people are first being exposed and coming to terms.

I know judgement can be a hard pill to swallow. Hearing other people’s opinions about our goals and passions is weird and uncomfortable and sometimes just straight up cringe-worthy. Anyone who places judgement on you is not worthy of your ear. They have yet to unlock their own vault of courage and feel the need to try to close yours to make themselves feel better.

Applaud yourself for your ambition and bravery. Applaud your courage in taking this step to better yourself (because you are). You allowing your drive to be muted by fear is a greater loss than the potential changed opinions of others.

overcome fears
transcend tragedy, rebt
fear of judgement

Comments (50)

  • Kristin

    May 16, 2020 at 1:11 pm

    Thanks for the encouragement! I often think “It’s just temporary” when I’m going through something particularly awful (like childbirth,ha)! Thanks for the great tips! I will try to implement them and kick out the negative thoughts…

  • Bethany Reul

    May 16, 2020 at 1:24 pm

    I had the same hesitations starting my blog, but quarantine gave me the gentle nudge I needed. SO glad I did!

  • Ashain Perera

    May 16, 2020 at 1:53 pm

    Very timely advice!

  • katherine

    May 16, 2020 at 1:57 pm

    Thank you for this wonderful article. I have my blog since 2 months and only a couple of people in my close friends know that I have it. You post inspired me.

  • Bhagyashree

    May 16, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    Loved your post. Do you what keeps me going is a thought “none of the circumstance is permanent. I have gone through lot many circumstances and I have survived it. Now I boast about it” 💜💜

    1. shemindfully

      May 23, 2020 at 2:25 pm

      LOVE this!!!

  • Sarah Styf

    May 16, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    Oh vulnerability. I have Brene Brown to thank for challenging that. I am scared to have those closest to me know what I really think and I know that it holds my writing back so. I’m not sure what to do about that, but I keep chipping away at those fears.

  • Sonia Motwani

    May 16, 2020 at 2:23 pm

    I loved the vibe of your blog and the judgemental detox piece here. Thankyou for empowering us with your words.

  • Tiia

    May 16, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    Really great post. I haven’t thought this before.

  • Ildiko

    May 16, 2020 at 2:35 pm

    I love your encouragement and perspective! It is so true that it takes a lot of courage to make yourself vulnerable, but I love how you process it and offer advise on how to get there. I always think of the phrase “Be brave enough to suck at something new”, because in reality everything is a learning curve. Thanks for your insights!

    1. shemindfully

      May 23, 2020 at 2:24 pm

      I LOVE that phrase! That’s a really really great point.

  • Heyjugni

    May 16, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    I feel the positivity and encouragement in your blog. I was going through a rough time, my miscarriage. I too started a blog and started posting all the good things and stuff to keep the vibe positive around me.

    1. shemindfully

      May 23, 2020 at 2:24 pm

      I’m so sorry to hear that! I hope you heal and grow into a more amazing version of yourself <3

  • Priyanka

    May 16, 2020 at 3:48 pm

    I went through same feeling when I decided to let people know that I have started with blogging. I had thoughts of what If I couldn’t do well, what if people don’t agree to my feelings etc… But rightly said by you in the end what matters is that we tried and ignore whoever is judging us.

  • Round Word

    May 16, 2020 at 5:27 pm

    We all need to be reminded from time to time how important and strong we are. Your article deserves to be copied/printed and placed in every blog/house/school, in a frame, in a place of honor.

  • Katie | Chit Chat With Katie

    May 16, 2020 at 9:09 pm

    I went through so many of these exact same feelings when “launching” my blog and announcing to my friends & family! We’re so often our own worst critics!

    1. shemindfully

      May 23, 2020 at 2:23 pm

      We totally are! It’s sad to think we hold ourselves back, but it’s true more times than not!

  • Cyclointuitio

    May 17, 2020 at 10:28 am

    Hello Kelly, just from your intro… I felt so concerned as I just started to publish articles and not just yet the ones I really want to … more personal! All you mention here is so powerful for me! thanks! I will re-read it again!

  • Sonia

    May 17, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    It’s great that you speak openly about this. Personally I don’t share my blog with certain people not because of judgement but jealousy and negative energy they would send over. And I’m fine. I prefer to have a clear mind. Not all people deserve or should know. Sometimes the foreigner is much grateful and open-mided than so called friends or colleagues. Good luck to you 🙂

  • Jasmine

    May 18, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    Ya know… it took me 2 years to actually START my blog because of fear and people would see me more vulnerable than ever before. Even now, I’ve withheld it from certain people in my life. But, after reading your post… I’m going to text each of them the link. Boom! I’ve got this!

    1. shemindfully

      May 23, 2020 at 2:22 pm

      YES!!! You got this girl!

  • Cecilie

    May 18, 2020 at 3:38 pm

    I love this!
    My boyfriend and I started a YouTube channel last year and it was just the most awkward thing to tell the people we knew. We were afraid that they would laugh at us (and not in a nice way). Eventually, we just did it and we had really positive feedback. Why do we always believe the worst haha?
    I loved this sentence “If we do not believe in our own capabilities, then we will not succeed” You are so right! The first step is to believe in ourselves! Congratulations on sharing your blog with the people you know and overcoming the fear of their judgement. I’m sure they are proud.

    1. shemindfully

      May 23, 2020 at 2:21 pm

      I love that you two overcame that! I also found extremely positive feedback once I bit the bullet and made it public. Congratulations on your YouTube channel! I’ll be sure to check it out 🙂

  • Monica Tatomir

    May 18, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    I have recently started my own blog too and felt quite nervous about it. Thank you for all your words, it feels nice to read these lines and start feel better about yourself and what you do. I love the medal of honour idea, it takes courage to wear it. My husband is a behaviour analyst and I am fortunate enough to have him give me advice in times of need and encouragement.

    1. shemindfully

      May 23, 2020 at 2:20 pm

      Oh that’s awesome! It’s really cool watching ideas that we learn in school (whether it be psychology, behavior analysis, etc) come to life and really help people improve their lives. I’m sure your husband brings home tons of fantastic tips!

  • Karen Smedley

    May 18, 2020 at 7:10 pm

    Great post, I’m sure we’ve all been through this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Bree Been

    May 18, 2020 at 8:03 pm

    Still struggling with this but I’m getting better with time. I need these kinds of reads.

  • Kat

    May 18, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    We love this post. Sometimes it is hard to look inward on ourselves and our judgment. It is also true that we are the most judgemental of ourselves. Great post!

  • siennylovesdrawing

    May 19, 2020 at 1:30 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this great life reminder, personally got inspired & learn to better manage the judgement received & earn self worth. cheers, siennylovesdrawing

  • mariah green

    May 19, 2020 at 3:28 am

    I constantly feel like I’m being judged. I’ll have to take these tips into account next time I start to hesitate with a decision.

  • Robby Isaac

    May 19, 2020 at 4:43 am

    I don’t regret starting a blog, it’s the best way to make a living. The beginning is hard but if you’re consistent, everything becomes easy in the end!.

  • Andrew

    May 19, 2020 at 8:22 am

    No worries I’ve been in the same shoes, when I started the blog and I launched the social media accounts. Just keep doing and don’t care of the others.

  • Rosanna

    May 19, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Really great post and helpful for those who need a push to go for it with their blogs! It’s important to do what we love regardless of judgement and this post really touches on that well!

  • paolo

    May 19, 2020 at 1:50 pm

    Good job on conquering your fear of judgement! I think this blog will help you grow as a person!

  • littlemisadvencha

    May 19, 2020 at 2:26 pm

    Thanks for this information and inspiration. Fear of judgment really limits us – it limits us to become the best that we can be. Only if we face this fear, we never know what we will become..

  • Elizabeth O

    May 19, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    This is such a great perspective. I think we all need to be brave in all things. Fear of judgment really affects on who we are and what we can do.

  • aisasami

    May 19, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    I have a fear of judgment because I feel like I am always wrong in society’s eyes, like I am the outcast. I am going to journal about this more because it is hard topic to get through.

    1. shemindfully

      May 23, 2020 at 2:18 pm

      Oh no, I’m sorry to hear this! Believe in yourself a little bit more and forget what society is thinking. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, who cares what others think?

  • Maysz

    May 20, 2020 at 2:12 am

    When I’m starting to make a blog I have a fear of judgement because of my grammar and wordings so my first year of blogging it’s a secret but later on I decide to conquer my fears and appreciating my post.

    1. shemindfully

      May 23, 2020 at 2:17 pm

      Yes!! Congrats on your blog!

  • Sarah B

    May 20, 2020 at 7:29 am

    Sometimes, our greatest enemy is ourselves. We often hinder ourselves from opening up about things due to fear of judgment when in fact, it is our own judgment that affects us the most.

    1. shemindfully

      May 23, 2020 at 2:16 pm

      Absolutely. We are our biggest enemy.

  • Anshul

    May 20, 2020 at 8:28 am

    Thanks for sending all the positivity and encouragement through this post. Fear of judgment is truly harmful. It often acts as a obstacle to reach our true potential. Only if we face this fear, we never know what we will become..

    1. shemindfully

      May 23, 2020 at 2:16 pm

      You said it!

  • Life Mag Health

    May 20, 2020 at 11:23 am

    Great post! As for me, I can say that somehow I’ve overcome the fear of other people’s criticism against me. I’ve learned how to be confident and believe in myself. Thank you for sharing this! These are worth considering!

  • Polly

    May 20, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    I agree with all of these specially confronting our inner critic. Sometimes we beat ourselves too hard and we don’t recognize our strengthens. We should be the ones to appreciate ourselves first. Great article!

  • Ishani Nath

    May 20, 2020 at 7:19 pm

    After reading the post I am left with nothing but lots of positivity. The inner fear and conquering it is the main thing. And we should have faith in our inner self. Beautiful post.

  • blair villanueva

    May 21, 2020 at 3:07 am

    Sometimes I felt that hesitation to do new things (for example, video editing) but I realized, my feelings would feel worst if I didn’t try it. Well, now I did and I learned to enjoy it.

  • Talamay

    May 21, 2020 at 11:35 am

    I struggle a lot with perusing things I want to do because I’m afraid of being judged, posts like this always encourage me to push myself a little harder.

    1. shemindfully

      May 22, 2020 at 11:59 pm

      That fear lives in all of us, just in different sizes!

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