A few years back, I tried to get together a group of friends to go to a water park.
If you haven’t been to a water park as an adult, you really ought to try it again. I feel like I enjoy them so much more than when I was a kid, and I enjoyed them quite a lot then. (Adulting bonus: I don’t need to go home when my parents are tired!)
I knew my target audience enough to know the expected objections. So I remember being very deliberate and proactive in my rebuttal:
“If you’re worried about how you look in your swimsuit, remember that everyone is likely to be so focused on how they look in their own swimsuit that likely aren’t sparing a single thought about you.“
Now, this might be an oversimplification (and I’m not sure how convincing I was) but the point remains: people are so concerned with how they look to others that it can overshadow their ability to see, much less judge others for the same things.
Don’t believe me? That’s fine, I don’t mind. I haven’t done clinical trials or anything.
But here’s the point. Have you? Do you know that people are judging you, and what for?
You probably don’t.
Table of Contents
Everyone’s insecure about something. BuzzFeed posted a list of the 17 most common insecurities, according to some therapists. These included points like: “You don’t think anyone finds you attractive.” “You still don’t feel like an actual grown-up.” and “You think everyone is definitely happier than you.“
As for insecurities that relate to finances, Experian has a report about “money anxiety disorder“. As Experian is a credit reporting agency, they should know all about it, since they do so much to cause it!
And chances are, you suffer from some aspect of money anxiety. I know I do. I’ve always worried about running out of money, but these days, in addition, I worry about having less as time goes on, that I’ve “peaked” in my income.
You probably worry that other people judge you as a success or a failure.
Alain De Botton, in his book “Status Anxiety“, states that we care about status because most people tend to be nice to us according to the amount of status we have.
And the heartbreaking part about all of this is that we can “fake” our status, financially, by buying a car we can’t really afford, or buying a bigger house, or jetsetting around the world and making Instagram posts humblebragging about it.
Three questions to ask yourself
But I keep coming back to these questions my therapist has told me over and over again:
- Do you know this to be true?
- How do you know this to be true?
- What other explanations could there be?
I want you to ask yourself these questions. Do you know people are judging you? Do you know what they are judging you for?
Forget about “not caring what other people think”; that’s above my pay grade. I just want to insert just a little bit of doubt in your head. Too often we just “know” what is true; we know they judge us for our old car, the clothes we wear, or even how we spend our free time.
To know that we don’t know what we don’t know
But we don’t know.
And until we get the courage to ask total strangers, “excuse me, what are you judging me for?”, we will have to contend with uncertainty.
And as long as we have some uncertainty here, how about this: perhaps people aren’t judging you at all? What might that look like?
What do you worry about people judging you for? (Don’t worry, I will ensure that this is a judgment-free zone.)