The Fear of How Others May Perceive Us


cycling womenConversations with others were very different for me. I would change my stance about how I truly felt in order to not look bad, or really, being accepted.   For example, several years ago, an intimidating, boisterous person in my cycling group named Jeff asked me, “How do you feel about the Shimano [pedal] clips?  Worry and fear of being unaccepted kicked straight in.

My brain said, “I don’t like clips! I’m tired of falling!” Plus, I didn’t want to look like I couldn’t handle being clipped in. So I said, “They’re not so bad once you get used to them.”

Then, he said, “I really like ’em.  It took me a while to figure ’em out. They beat me up a few times, but they’re cool.”

I said, “Yeah, I agree.” but would really think, “I’m never wearing them again!” pretending like they were ok and not proclaiming my true feelings. Instantly, I tweaked my story so that it would sound agreeable.  On some subconscious level, I thought that if I said how I really felt, the person may not like what I said or like me. Tons of thought and energy went into trying to figure out how to say what I believe would sound pleasing to them.  My fear of saying the “wrong” thing was front and center. I became a whiz at changing what to say in a split second’s thought.  My subconscious go-to was, “Oh yeah, that’s true too.”

A coaching session with my coach created a new awareness and a shift.   I experienced a  strong feeling of determination to create my new habit: stating how I really felt.  It will land however it lands.  I tested it a couple of times and found myself slipping back into my old habit. This will take practice.  Low and behold, after a couple of failures, I finally did it!  No one had a negative “reaction”.  The real test will come when they have a bad reaction. Will I still stand strong?  That time came soon.  I spoke with a very tall, husky and intimidating-looking co-worker and said something that we totally disagreed on.  He reintegrated very strongly that he did not agree and felt that he had to repeat his side again.   I took a breath and didn’t change my stance.  I just listened to him with compassion, firmly supporting and not changing my own beliefs.  And you know what?  I survived.  I didn’t fall off the edge of the earth. In fact, I felt better – Victory!  I realized that ‘discomfort’ will just take practice.  Practice will allow the discomfort to become my new comfort zone. My action allowed fear to disappear. I took a proud, deep breath knowing that  I am standing strong in what I believe in.  This huge accomplishment feels completely victorious.  I lost several years of time pleasing others instead of standing strong in my own beliefs.  I felt confident that this is how I’ll be moving forward.

Bonnie Carb is a Life Coach that helps clients gain confidence and leadership skills.  If you are in a pattern of the same unconfident behavior (maybe for years!) and feel ready to make a change, contact her to help you find a solution that will work specifically for you.  For a FREE phone or Skype sample coaching session, contact Bonnie at or at 540-869-3708 (EST) or make an appointment at

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