How to Reduce Anxiety About Others’ Perceptions and Embrace Your Authentic Self

Perception is deeply ingrained in us, and from a biopsychosocial perspective, it makes sense that we care about what others think of us. Caring about others’ perceptions has historically kept humans safe, as being part of a group is generally safer than being isolated. Our desire to belong and connect with others is healthy and natural. However, problems arise when we care too much about what others think, leading to hypervigilance and high anxiety about how others may perceive us.

Understanding the Need for Connection

It’s important to affirm that needing other people and desiring to belong is a fundamental human need. Recognizing this can help us understand why we care about others’ perceptions. Historically, being part of a group has been essential for survival, and being disliked or disconnected from others can feel risky and uncomfortable.

Consequences of Over-Managing Our Image

Excessive concern about others’ perceptions can lead to what we call “image management” in the therapeutic world. When we constantly manage our image, we may prevent ourselves from being our authentic selves. This can result in distraction, rumination, and a lack of permission to show up authentically and imperfectly. Ironically, this can cause disconnection from others, as humans value authenticity and often connect through imperfection.

Steps to Reduce Anxiety About How You Are Perceived

  1. Name the Behavior: Acknowledge that caring about others’ perceptions is a natural human trait, but recognize when it becomes excessive.
  2. Understand the Consequences: Reflect on how excessive image management impacts your life. Consider the pain and disconnection it may cause.
  3. Introspect and Accept Discomfort: Consider how you want to be perceived and whether you are okay with not being liked by everyone. Explore any cognitive distortions, such as the belief that you need to be liked by everyone, and work towards accepting discomfort around being disliked.

Fostering Authentic Connections

To reduce anxiety about others’ perceptions, focus on getting your needs for belonging and connection met in healthy, supportive ways. Identify people with whom you can be your authentic self and who will accept you as you are. Aim for flexibility in caring about others’ opinions, ensuring it doesn’t dominate your thoughts or emotional energy.

By practicing these steps, you can reduce anxiety about others’ perceptions and foster a more authentic, fulfilling life. “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown is a wonderful resource to more authentic living. Remember, it’s not about eliminating concern for others’ opinions but finding a balance that allows you to thrive.

AFFIRMATION OF THE DAY: I acknowledge my need for belonging and seek healthy, supportive relationships.

Becoming Anchored in Hope,

Laura

Laura is committed to guiding individuals along their path to mental wellness and has carefully gathered a team of skilled, knowledgeable, and committed therapists at Anchored Counseling Company to assist in this mission. The professionals here create an environment that is supportive and affirming, informed by an understanding of trauma. At Anchored Counseling Co., there’s a shared belief in the fundamental worth of each person, and therapy is delivered with warmth and empathy. The therapeutic philosophy here is built on the premise that every client has the natural ability to enact meaningful and enduring change in their life. To connect with a therapist who aligns with your unique needs, please contact our office at 615.510.3797 or visit our website today.

Anchored Counseling Company is a a group practice specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression, body image concerns, eating disorders & disordered eating, substance use, trauma and PTSD, and spirituality in Brentwood, Tennessee and serving the greater Nashville, Tennessee area. We are easily accessible for clients living in Franklin, Tennessee and Spring Hill, Tennessee. 

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