‘What will they say?’

Have you ever found yourself stopping from saying or doing something out of fear of ‘what will they say’? ‘They’ being other people – be it family members, work colleagues, employers, friends, neighbours, acquaintances,  local community, local church congregation, social media sites, or relatives to name a few.

It is quite pervasive and can slip in without us fully realising what is behind it. It has certainly been something that has popped up in my life many times and for many different reasons. Behind it was usually a fear of being judged, being rejected, not being liked, or being ridiculed. It lead me to be secretive and closed – keeping everything to myself. It lead me to hold back from saying what I was really feeling or thinking and instead say what I thought people wanted to hear or what would fit in with the crowd. 

Through my own journey of healing I have come to realise how constrictive and restrictive it is to be so affected by the good or bad opinion of other people. I have come to realise how much it has impacted me and where it can still hold me back at times. I was recently writing about some events in my past and I wondered, ‘can I say this?’ and the ‘what will people say?’ raised its head again. So it is something that I have been actively working with and looking at the underlying fears that feed into it and coming to a deeper truth. In doing so I have come to realise how damaging it is to live holding back out of fear of ‘what will they say?’. 

It is an unfolding journey and through the esoteric understandings and the living of those understandings I am much more able to say what is true for me and not be so curtailed by ‘what will they say?’. However, this does not just mean that I can say whatever I like to whomever I like. That would be irresponsible. It requires me to really feel whether, is what I am saying coming from love, from truth or that which is not love within me.  To feel whether it is coming from a reaction or a need, whatever that need may be eg to be liked, to be seen in a certain way or whether it is coming from love, with no need, no attachment to outcome. It calls me to not just take responsibility for what I say, but how I say it. It takes practice and for me is very much a work in progress and in doing so I become more aware of the times I am reacting or coming from a need and can be empowered to choose otherwise. 

However, for me the great teachers and wise people of the past, be it Jesus or Socrates or Siddartha Guatama to name a few were all people who were not constrained by the good or bad opinion of other people for they knew who they were and lived from that truth, that knowing, that livingness. In doing so they knew who everyone else was as well and so were not attached to being Mr Popular. They were living examples or reflections that each of us can learn from. The truth is not always popular and indeed can be quite challenging and confronting.  Many of the great teachers have experienced hardship or death as a consequence of the teachings they delivered for not everyone was able to hear the Truth they were presenting. Of course for them death was not to be feared for they knew it was but a step on the journey of life and being true to themselves and to Truth was more important than courting popularity. They did not just deliver teachings or presentations that were pleasant to the ear or that didn’t ruffle a few feathers. I’m sure they knew that ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’ and perhaps it just becomes a case of ‘whoever has ears to hear, let them hear’. I can’t imagine they were too caught up in ‘what will they say?’.

Do you feel you hold yourself back, don’t say what is true for you,  out of fear of ‘what will they say?’ Feel free to share your experiences – I’m sure we could all learn alot from each other regarding where we get caught with ‘what will they say?’


  • Reply
    11th September 2011 at 7:02 pm

    Hi Eunice,
    Great that you brought this up. I often find myself dancing around this at work where I feel like I can’t always present things that I feel or see. I often keep things to myself in classes or at work because I’m afraid of what people might say or that they might reject it or not take it seriously. I even do it with friends and family so as not to tread on people’s toes, so to speak. I don’t understand why this is, since from times when I have shared things that I feel, it usually only inspires people, so it’s funny that hesitation still persists. There is much to be aware of in this respect, thanks for the reminder 🙂
    with Love, Nykole

    • Reply
      The Soulful Doctor
      11th September 2011 at 11:08 pm

      Thanks Nykole – yes I have found there can be many underlying reasons why we fear the ‘what will they say?’ – yet all can potentially crumble to dust!!

  • Reply
    Rachel Hall
    11th September 2011 at 10:43 pm

    Eunice, thank you for being so honest and expressing what so many of us struggle with. I often find myself at work as an esoteric dentist and in life in general about to say something I feel to be true then hold it back just in case it gets misconstrued or pushes other peoples buttons. When this happens I can actually feel that it hurts me more to not speak up. We are programmed from a young age to be nice and polite and to say what we feel the other person wants to hear. It raises the question do I want to be good or do I want to be true?
    I also agree that it is important to learn to discern when we are coming from love or need. For me the only way is to express more and accept I’m not always going to get it right and in this way I will come to understand what is there for me to work on in myself.
    with love

    • Reply
      The Soulful Doctor
      11th September 2011 at 11:04 pm

      I agree Rachel – it’s important to accept that we will not get it right every time but the more that we practise it will help one way or the other. Whether that is affirming  that we are expressing with love or  highlighting something within ourselves that blocks that expression. 

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