Being conscious of how other people respond to you is a useful skill. A good example is when you say something, and people react differently from what you expected. Their response is helpful in that it allows you to make changes in your behavior.
However, many people struggle with a fear of how others will react to them. They worry a lot that they will say the wrong thing or do something that drives others away—even though they haven’t done anything wrong.
Sound familiar? If the fear of other people’s reactions is holding you back, consider these ideas.
Scrutinizing the Situation
Think about the situations in which you are interacting with other people. Who do you spend most of your time each day? Most likely, much of it is spent with family, friends, and coworkers. Let’s take a look at family and friends. Are you fearful of how friends or family members respond to you? Hopefully, the answer is no. Your friends and family should love you and care about you, no matter what.
Coworkers are a more challenging group. They are fellow employees and not necessarily always your friends. These are different types of relationships. However, consider those interactions. Do they criticize you or seem accepting?
Why You Are Supported
Next, think about what it is about you that people do accept about you. They might say that you are a good person. Or that you are understanding and kind. Maybe you did something nice for someone recently. Or, you’ve always been there for your friend when they’ve needed you.
If these people accept you for who you are, then why can’t others? This is a way of using logic that can help you bridge the gap between known relationships and those that are less familiar.
When Logic Fails
Of course, if logic worked all the time, fear wouldn’t be an issue at all. It shouldn’t be surprising then that taking the logical approach isn’t always going to work when having a fear of other people’s reactions to you. That’s because fear is such an overriding emotion.
But fear can be a useful emotion. In a dangerous situation, it can help keep you alive and safe. However, it gets out of hand when you constantly view everyone as a threat. When that happens, the logical part of your brain, including the frontal cortex, gets overridden by the amygdala, which is responsible for fear.
What to Do About Fear
It helps to understand that what you’re experiencing makes sense, for your brain. Maybe the reason why it is having a fear response is illogical. However, knowing that your brain is going through a process at least provides context for what’s going on. That helps you feel less powerless.
You can use that information in the moment to recognize what’s happening and to make a different choice. When you start to feel anxious about someone’s reaction to you, that can be a reminder to stay aware of what’s happening. Direct your attention and focus on something else which is comforting, not fearful.
Despite your best efforts, there’s only so much that you can do by yourself to manage this fear. You might also benefit from professional support through anxiety counseling. A therapist will work with you to get to the root of why you are so afraid. Most likely, there were experiences when you were young that established this pattern.
A lot of the reasons why people have anxiety in the present is due to past events. Collaborating with a therapist will help you resolve this fear of other people’s reactions. That way, you don’t have to be as fearful in the future.
It’s a tricky problem when you have anxiety based on the fear of other people’s reactions. It can be tough to know whether or not someone is genuine. Always feeling on edge drains your energy. However, there are things that you can do about having anxiety because of fear of other people’s reactions.
Please reach out to me today or visit my pigeon anxiety counseling in NYC to learn more about how I can help.