Updated: Nov 14, 2020
At some point in our lives, we've all feared somebody. Indeed, it's very likely that even today, there's someone that you're a bit afraid of.
The people that we fear vary from one chapter of our lives to the other. In some periods, we fear our parents and our teachers. In others, we fear our boss or the person in charge of approving our residence permit.
It doesn't really matter who that person is. The uncomfortable feeling that we get in our body when thinking about the moment in which we'll have to face this person, is the same for all of us.
Why do we fear?
But why do we fear? Why do we jump from fearing one person, to fearing the next one? What's that thing that we all share, that makes us feel so vulnerable?
The reason why we fear is simple. We fear because we are under the impression, that the person on the other side has power over us. Therefore we care about his or her opinion, because what they think, could in one way or the other, define our future.
The future that I'm talking about, can be either the broad long term future, or even just a minute of our life. The reason why we fear some people, is because we have attached to them an identity that puts them in a position that is better than ours.
We fear the boss, the client, the bank worker, the landlord, the migration agency. We fear the person that will make a decision, that could define our value. It could define our value, but it doesn't have to. Why? Because we're the ones in charge of choosing if their opinions define who we are, or not. Even if they'll make a decision that could have a strong impact in our live, performance fear is not the way out of it.
How to stop fearing people
So how do we stop fearing?
1. Humanise the person on the other side
The person that you're so afraid of, is no different than you. As we describe our fear of other people, the person that you fear could easily read this post and feel as identified as you feel right now. Why? Because this person also fears someone else.
We're all human beings interacting with each other. The person that seems to have a portion of your life in his hands, also feels that someone else has a portion of his life in his hands.
We all share the same fear, because we're all under the illusion that someone else can call our shots and define who we are. The people that seem to have some kind of power over you, are also living a normal life just like you, and feel the same kind of pressure from other people.
2. Connect to their fear
The moment you are able to see the other person as a regular human being, and connect to his fear, he will no longer seem so scary. Use this bond that you share, to connect with him.
Connecting with their fear, doesn't imply calling it out or having a conversation about it. It can be as simple as looking at these people with a different pair of eyes.
3. Notice the illusion
The final and key step toward loosing the fear of other people, is to notice that you have been, and will no longer be, under a painful illusion.
The illusion that we're talking about, is the belief that this person has some kind of power over you. Whatever other people think, say or do about you, has no relationship to who you are. The only power that they have, is the power that we give to them.
Giving our power to other people or keeping it to ourselves, is an every minute choice. The skill of keeping our power to ourselves is one that, like any other skill, is strengthened with practice and discipline.
Every time that you find yourself falling apart because of someone else's opinion, ask yourself what you're choosing to believe in that moment. If you're believing their opinion as an absolute true, and you don't like this opinion, you're buying into the illusion.
An opinion is an opinion, regardless of who it belongs to. It can be your mom's opinion, but it's still no more than that. If this opinion hurts, it's because of the meaning and value that you've attached to it.
We don't fear other people. We fear their opinions. Why? Because we have a tendency to define who we are, based on the feedback that we get from the outside world. However, this is not who we are.
Who we are can not be what other people think, because everybody thinks differently.
Notice the lack of meaning in an opinion alone, and your fear of the people holding this opinion will be completely vanished.