You know what you want, but you’re worried about what people think. Maybe you don’t know what you want, but you still worry what people think or how they’ll respond.
I get it! I’m struggling with an important decision right now, and I have to keep remind myself to stop worrying what people will think. But I didn’t write this article for me, or even for you—though I know it’ll help us both. I was inspired to write this for a She Blossoms reader who commented on one of my “Blossom Tips” articles.
“I need inspiration to act on what is in my heart and not what do people want me to do,” said K. on Keep Your Chin Up – Blossom Tip 45. “How do I overcome the fear of what others think of me, especially if I make decisions they think are wrong?”
Two answers come to my mind:
- You may never completely overcome fear or worry about what people think. Your decisions affect your friends and family, and they care about you. They want you near, safe, and healthy. They don’t want to lose you, and they don’t like change.
- If you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you have nothing to fear.
In 7 Tips for Overcoming Fear of What People Think About You I offer seven practical and inspirational ways to stop being scared of how others react. In this article I focus on two main ideas: living with worry about what others think, versus drawing on the strength, freedom, love and power of God to make choices without fear.
3 Ways to Cope When You Worry What People Think
Here’s the decision I’m struggling with: I want to spend my week-long Christmas break volunteering somewhere. A hospice perhaps, or a long-term residential care center. In the past I volunteered at Christmas Camp Horizon through Easter Seals, assisting adults with physical and mental challenges—and I loved it!
My problem isn’t that I worry what others think. Rather, I struggle with my husband’s reaction to us spending Christmas apart. It’s not easy or fun for him to spend Christmas without his wife. I don’t want to hurt him, yet I feel pulled to some sort of ministry or volunteer work over the holidays.
So I get it. It’s hard to make a big decision in life without fear, anxiety, or worry about how other people will think or respond. But the way I see it, I have two choices.
1. Learn to live with fear and worry
You can’t change how your friends and family respond to your choices. If you have a true calling or purpose from God, then they won’t understand it. You’re pulled toward it because it’s yours, not theirs. Don’t expect them to get it, or to bless everything you do. Accept that you may never completely overcome fear or worry about what people think.
Your friends and family love you. They want you safe and close. They also don’t want their lives disrupted—most humans dislike and even fear change.
2. Find your “why”
I serve a God who is personal, loving, kind, just, and strong. Following and loving Jesus should be my number one priority! If you are growing into a personal relationship with God, you have nothing to fear. Work on Jesus’ encouragement to “fear not.”
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Whether or not you’re a Christian, figure out why you want to make that choice or take that route. Don’t allow fear of others or the future to rule your life. Fear will paralyze and destroy your life. Instead of trying to learn how to stop worrying about what people think, focus on what your purpose is. Not necessarily your purpose in life…just your purpose in this particular instance.
3. Back up your decision with logic
I learned something huge while writing and working with a publishing house on my book Growing Forward When You Can’t Go Back: the importance of having a rationale.
Sometimes my editor and I disagreed on an idea or sentence phrasing. If I was able to offer a logical explanation for my perspective, they obliged. All they needed was a valid reason. And I valued the opportunity to provide that reason because it affirmed or weakened my perspective.
Do with the decision you’re struggling with. You may find it easier to stop worrying what others think if you have valid arguments that support your decision. This is a healthy and important route to not just explaining yourself to others, but to figure out in your own mind what you should do.
Remember that no matter how valid and logical your reasons are, your friends and family may never support your decisions the way you want them to. It’s just part of living a purposeful, meaningful life. Or maybe people will support you, but they’ll express their concern and hurt that you’re not around the way you used to be. This is part of following your heart…and of following Jesus, if you’re a believer.
Read How to Make a Difficult Decision in Life for practical tips.
What do you think? Your comments – big and little – are welcome below! How will you stop worrying about what other people think about you and your life?
Writing is one of the best ways to discover what you really think and feel. Take time to stop and listen to the still small voice, and you will start healing and moving forward.
I read every comment, but don’t worry. I won’t give advice or tell you what to do. It’s your turn to talk.