10 Simple Ways To Overcome Your Fear Of Being Judged By Others

Once you stop fearing judgment, it no longer matters what other people think.

Last updated on Aug 10, 2023

woman with a fear of judgment Sparklestroke Stories, angelainthefields, Alisha Gronska, and Syda Productions via Canva

People go to self-defeating lengths to elude the possibility of being negatively judged by others.

They avoid telling people what they want to tell them. They don’t speak up in class or at work meetings. They avoid telling their lover their true desires. They don’t ask for a raise. They won’t tell a new date where they’d like to go for dinner.

This fear of judgment is linked to the desire to be liked by everyone at all times. But because that is impossible, this is a losing game that keeps people from uninhibitedly experiencing and expressing their true selves.


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Let’s face it: humans are always judging others — good/bad or like/dislike, with lots of nuance in between. And as new information comes in, the human mind reassesses: It is an ongoing process.


Instead of avoiding the issue by not saying anything about your preferences, and working overtime to try to shape the people in your life so they won’t judge you, you can work to accept this process instead.

Why do people fear being judged by others?

The fear of being judged by others is a common and natural human emotion that stems from various psychological factors, including:

  • Social acceptance and belonging
  • Self-esteem and self-worth
  • Fear of rejection
  • Social comparison

Humans are social creatures, and a sense of belonging is essential for our emotional well-being. We often tie our self-esteem and self-worth to the opinions of others. When someone judges us negatively, it can shatter our self-perception and lead to feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness.

Humans even engage in social comparison to evaluate their abilities, beliefs, and behaviors. When we feel like we don't measure up to others' standards, the fear of judgment can arise as a defense mechanism to protect our self-concept.


Cultural norms and societal expectations play a role in shaping our fear of judgment. In societies where conformity is highly valued, the fear of deviating from norms can be especially strong.

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How to Stop Fearing the Judgment of Others

1. Remember nothing lasts forever.

The reality is that the human brain has limited data reserves. Although we may make judgments, they are not significant enough to earn a place in our memory banks for eternity.

So when someone makes a judgment about you, chances are that moments or days later that judgment will have left their conscious awareness.


We build up our understanding of people, not on the minor mistakes or setbacks we observe, but by creating a schema based on the big things they do and say, and the patterns of how they interact with us and make us feel over time.

2. Know that judgment is unavoidable.

Stop trying to control the judgments of others. It has become part of our zeitgeist to demand that others not judge us. Think about popular statements such as, “No judgments,” and, “This is a non-judgment zone.” None of this really helps because you can’t control what others think.

Maybe they won’t express their judgment, but it doesn’t mean they can stop a physiological brain process. Instead, try to explain the context of what you are feeling so that those you are opening up to understand you and have compassion for you.

Compassion is judgment’s kryptonite. When it is present, judgments have little weight because people can imagine themselves feeling the same way.


3. Let them judge.

It can be liberating in an intimate relationship to just allow judgments to be present. Instead of stopping yourself from being open or vulnerable or from sharing something negative but important about yourself, do it anyway.

If you notice yourself holding back out of fear of judgment, ask yourself first: “What judgment do I fear will come from my opening up?“ and “What is it I fear will occur if they make that particular judgment about me?”

Once you identify the fear, try to reassure yourself or find a way that you could manage the fear if it did come to be. Remind yourself that close and intimate relationships deepen when people risk judgment.

If this openness doesn’t happen, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have done something wrong, but it may mean the person you are working to connect with doesn’t have the capacity for an emotionally intimate relationship.


4. Notice your own judgments.

There is no better way to care less about the judgments of others than to judge yourself and others less. Of course, judgment is unavoidable, but watch the language you use in your own head about the people and events in your life.

Change the focus of your judgments: Instead of “she sucks” or “he’s a loser,” ask yourself what effect the person has on you that you want to avoid or be aware of in the future. For example, “She never follows through with her commitments to me” or “He tells me he’s trying but I always end up disappointed.”

Move away from the good and bad character traits of those in your life to what is healthy and unhealthy for you.

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5. Write affirmations.

It's crucial to focus on fostering positivity in your life. Research indicates that practicing affirmations can be a helpful tool in rebuilding self-assurance and a sense of self-value. By acknowledging your own strengths and positive attributes, you can enhance your ability to overcome anxieties related to how others perceive you.

When you have confidence in yourself, your capabilities, and your achievements, the opinions of others become less significant and impactful. Embracing self-confidence and self-belief can liberate you from the burden of external judgment, empowering you to live a more fulfilling and authentic life.

6. Say 'yes.'

If anxiety has been preventing you from moving forward in various aspects of your life, avoiding anxiety-provoking situations may not be the best long-term solution. Instead, consider taking a proactive approach to address and overcome your fear of judgment. Start saying "yes" to new opportunities as they arrive in your life.

Each time you take a step outside your comfort zone and successfully handle the situation, your confidence will grow. Remember that growth comes from embracing discomfort and pushing yourself beyond your perceived limitations.


7. Stop chasing approval from others.

The opinions and perceptions that others hold about you are beyond your control, and attempting to alter them can be a futile and exhausting endeavor. Instead, focus your energy and efforts on embracing your authenticity and staying true to yourself.

It's natural to desire validation and acceptance from others, but it's essential to recognize that their judgments do not define your worth or determine your path in life. By accepting yourself for who you are and valuing your unique qualities, you can unlock your true potential.

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8. Focus on being happy.

Regret can be an emotional burden that far outweighs the temporary discomfort of criticism. Instead of conforming to external expectations, choose to live authentically, aligning your actions with your inner values and aspirations.

Living a life true to yourself may require breaking free from societal norms and facing opposition from those who fail to understand your choices. It's worth it to focus on your happiness.

9. Remember that it's not about you.

When someone passes judgment on you, it's not really about you at all — it's a reflection of their own fears, limitations, and perceptions.

By understanding that the judgments of others are often a reflection of their own experiences and values, you learn not to take them personally. Instead, focus on aligning your choices with your own aspirations and values, free from the expectations and opinions of others.


10. Stop making assumptions.

Making assumptions often leads to misguided conclusions. You can never truly know what others think about you unless you give them the chance to express themselves. Preconceived notions and assumptions about people's opinions can lead us astray and rob us of potential support and understanding.

By being open and receptive to others' perspectives, you discover that some of your fears are unfounded, and can gain a newfound appreciation for the power of genuine communication and connection.

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Jill P. Weber, Ph.D. is a relationship expert and author. Her work has been featured in Psychology Today, USA Today, Nightline, Teen Vogue, Redbook, Family Circle, Seventeen, CNN, Associated Press, U.S. News and World Report, and Discovery Channel.