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?’