How to Overcome the Fear of Not Being Liked

I’ve spoken to a few audiences in my lifetime, and I’ve experienced that sinking feeling in the pit of the stomach as I’d anticipate standing in front of a room full of strangers, worrying about what they’d think of me and what I had to say. Sometimes I would feel the anxiety for days (or even weeks) before an event.

Thank heavens I hardly ever feel that way anymore. Nobody likes to feel anxious or worried about being around people or giving presentations. It’s not a fun feeling! It can be paralyzing, in fact. But at least in my case, I’ve identified a couple reasons why things got easier:

First of all, there is that “getting used to it” thing. Do something often enough, and the anxiety goes away, eventually. Even the most embarrassing moments can pale over time. (Like the moment when I spontaneously demonstrated my sweet Tari Piring skills at a convention where I spoke with 500 guests. You’re not supposed to do that arm thing with food on the plate, but I was trying to be clever. Naturally my pie flew off the plate in front of the directors’ table, aaaaand that’s all I’m going to say about that. One thing I can say is that the feeling of horror has indeed paled.)

Second of all, aside from practice and time passing, there is something else that can be done to immediately get past that self-conscious oh-my-heck-what-are-people-thinking-about-me-right-now feeling, and it has to do with the way YOU think. It’s a pretty cool trick for feeling more comfortable in social settings, and here’s how it works:

As you probably know, the thoughts and feelings you bring to a social gathering emit a kind of a “vibration” that people pick up on. If you’re cheerful, people like that. They enjoy being with other people that make them feel good. If you feel comfortable, people feel comfortable around you.

But what if you don’t know how to feel comfortable?

When you feel nervous around other people (whether it’s an individual or an audience), DON’T WORRY about whether or not they like you, because if you do, you can unconsciously cause the very thing you want to avoid. To entertain worry puts you into an awkward “negative vibration”, which can be a turnoff to those around you.

Instead, all you have to do is LIKE THEM first.

You can choose to like people—just find something to like about them—and by liking them, you emit a positive vibration that more naturally causes them to mirror the feeling back.

A magnetic personality is not achieved by being super cool, amazingly talented, or having sweet Tari Piring skills. It’s achieved by finding and showing appreciation for the qualities, strengths, and talents in those around you.

Keep this principle alive in your life and you will always have an abundance of friends. Besides, as you’ve probably heard before, what people think about you is really none of your business, and most people are too busy worrying about what other people think of them to be thinking about you, anyway

All of these concerns melt away when you’re focused on building up the people around you, and finding their admirable qualities.

Remember this key idea and you can be confident in a room full of strangers. I’ve been told that you should fuss about the way you look only while you’re preparing to be with people, but the minute you walk out the door, it’s no longer about you. Focus on the people around you and forget about yourself.

“Love your neighbor” (Matthew 22:37-39) is a timeless principle here well applied. Plant good seeds by following this advice, and you’ll more easily reap a harvest of good company (Gal 6:7-8).

Learn more about what your thoughts can do with MINDSET FUNDAMENTALS™ Originally published June 28, 2015

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