The artist, the creator, the performer, anyone who wants to express themselves is afraid of judgment in one form or another. The feeling is inevitable. When you put your heart and soul out there, it’s scary to hear what other people will think of it.
Then there are those who are successful anyway. Because what differentiates a successful creative from everyone else is their emotional intelligence. They are aware enough that they are able to act in spite of fear. They don’t completely demolish or ignore these fears and judgments, they work with it.
The unsuccessful ones haven’t yet developed a high EQ. They allow their fear to hold them back, to convince them that they don’t want that level of scrutiny that comes with that level of expression. They can’t handle being that vulnerable. And this is why graveyards not only bury bones but dreams as well.
So have you ever thought about where this fear of expression comes from? Out of the many sources, the most important one to understand is your own perspective and how you’ve casted that onto others. It’s possible that this fear of putting yourself out there is coming from all of those negative thoughts that you thought was about someone else, but really, it’s been about you all along.
It’s Lonely Up Here
“If you want to stop feeling like you’re less than other people, you are going to also have to stop feeling like you’re more than them.”
How much do you judge other people’s work? Are those the same things you fear someone else criticizing your work for?
Many times, I find myself harshly criticizing other people’s blog posts, books, podcasts, or videos. I see how unprofessional they are, how cheesy their content is, even judging the deeper levels of their psychology, motivations, and subtle messaging. And since I was focusing so much on the negative in all aspects, I was then only able to see what was wrong with my own work.
If you’re like me, that’s why you haven’t finished your work, that’s why you haven’t hit publish. We avoid expressing ourselves because of how much it might hurt to hear yourself as your own worst enemy. You might be thinking, I can’t get hurt if no one knows who I am, right? That suppression ends up suppressing everything else, including the positive, and you start breeding frustration and jealousy. It turns into pessimistic attention to the weaknesses of others, sourced from our own insecurities.
Suppression is isolating. It pushes the people, ideas, education, and new perspectives away from you. It’s difficult to escape too because conceitedness, if left unchecked, continues to expand between you and who you want to be.
Needless to say, it’s unhealthy to hold yourself back just because you don’t want to hear, read, or experience something uncomfortable. In fact, the mere avoidance of discomfort in your past is most likely why you’re now feeling uncomfortable, or stuck, or alone.
The Paradox of Judgment
This fear of how I’m perceived was solely created in my mind based on how I see other people. I judge other people’s mentality, emotional state, education, financial status, and behaviors and I thought myself to be better than them.
Ironically, I thought it would give me confidence, that I’m not the worst, that I have it good. Or that they’re doing this the wrong way, that they’re making a mistake, that they don’t know what the hell they’re doing.
This act of comparison made me match myself up to someone else, which inevitably made me match myself up to those ahead of me as well. And when I placed myself relative to others, sure it made me feel a little better than some, but it made me feel worse that I was so far behind others who were way ahead.
My judgment of others projected back onto myself. I was intimidated by my own pretentiousness. There was a lot of hypocrisy there, where I was empathetic enough to know what it felt like to look down on others, so I was afraid of others having that feeling towards me, and yet I did it anyway.
It was because my perspectives were damaged. I believed that this was all a race, that I should be able to win something better than others. When in reality, we all make our own prizes in this strange life that we’re in. The trophy that you want is different than mine, and his, and hers, and theirs. In other words, there are multiple competitions, multiple ways to win, and it doesn’t have to be at the expense of others. You’re no better than anyone, you’re no less than anyone.
So What Are You Going to Do?
I hope, at the very least, I got you thinking a bit. You might even have more questions than answers. Maybe you’re more lost than clear. I did that on purpose. I’m not going to claim to have any answers. I don’t expect you to now be able to become super famous tomorrow or save one of the world’s impending crises. But I do hope you can at least take the first step towards expressing your true nature by understanding that you don’t have to be better than anyone in order to do what you like to do.
I don’t have any “calls to action” or “improvement strategies” for you this time, other than to just keep this in mind as you move forward with your life. Be cognizant of how you perceive and judge others in how they choose to live their lives, learn from everyone, and maybe this fear that you’ve created for yourself won’t hold you back anymore.
What Are You Working On?
You’re most likely here because you know you can do more and want to create or do something great, but just need an outside perspective or someone to support your progress. I’d love to hear what you’re working on!