Being Brave: Letting go of your Fear of People’s Opinions

Being Brave: Letting go of your Fear of People's Opinions

In order for us to live authentically and share our greatest gifts, it is essential for us to let go of our fear of what other people may be thinking about us.    The term FOPO, fear of people’s opinions, is a term coined by Michael Gervais, High Performance Psychologist.  As I mentioned in my last newsletter, many of us have a tendency to be caught up in putting our self-worth into outside influences and things that are out of our control.  When we do, we play small and are fearful of testing our capabilities to see what is on the other side of being the best of who we are!

This is a common concern for some of my athlete clients. This FOPO has sabotaged their focus and level of play because they are fearful of what others will think if they make a mistake or lose a game.   When placing so much control into this perfectionistic perspective, it is very difficult to ride the waves of the up and down nature of sport.  Mental toughness is awarded to those who have a comeback mentality and believe in themselves regardless of outcomes.

More importantly, overcoming FOPO is a lifeskill.  I am definitely a recovering perfectionist.  It was a life-long muscle I built to protect myself from the fear of disappointing other people.  As a result, I have held myself back from speaking my truth and taking on opportunities that would allow me to share my gifts and grow to my potential.

Teaching yoga has been a life-changer in that it has helped me transition beyond the fear of people’s opinions and perfectionist tendencies by testing my resolve and recovery when I am directly faced with potential or actual judgment of others.

By putting myself in front of a class several times a week, I have had to let go of feeling so exposed and put the focus on the sole purpose of why I am teaching; to help people feel good in their bodies and in their minds.   Every mistake I made while teaching, and every student that I questioned his or her opinion of me, has helped to desensitize my self-critical nature.   In fact, last week, I royally messed up in a class of 30 students when I forgot some poses that got us all turned around.  I recovered as gracefully as possible and added some humor so we all laughed.  Lo and behold, the students loved the class regardless of the mistake.

I have had to test my internal critic when keynote speaking in front of large groups.  I am here to tell you that with as much fear as I had with public speaking, I am quite comfortable and at ease now because I practice, practice, practice and place attention on sharing my knowledge and gifts, flaws and all.    And, I have definitely had my heart broken when speaking my truth because the other person’s reaction was hurtful.   As Brene Brown says, you will get your ass kicked when living bravely.  This is the physics of courage.

For some people, FOPO is not an issue and they don’t have any trouble speaking their mind, but remember, I am a recovering perfectionist and this is difficult stuff!  I am still a work in progress, but I have learned that the more I allow myself to be vulnerable the stronger I become.

When you begin to feel that FOPO and your attention is drawn away from living authentically and giving it all that you’ve got, ask yourself these questions:

  1. What will others miss if I let my FOPO stop me from sharing?
  2. What are my thoughts that are contributing to my having this fear?
  3. Is my fear of other’s opinions a projection of my fear of failure?
  4. What can I say to myself at this moment to build my confidence?
  5. Is there something I can control in this moment to improve my situation or solve a problem?

These questions help us to align with our own personal power and be who we were meant to be.  There is only one unique you.  Go and do your thing, get your ass kicked, and live your life to the fullest!