The fear of looking stupid is an actual thing. They may not have come up with a name for it, but it exists. Ask anyone on the planet. Everyone has felt it at one time or another. We’re all guilty of feeling this way. So, then why aren’t we being more empathetic with one another?
The answer is no matter how much people empathize with you, living fearless comes from within. You have to be willing to look stupid and take risks so you can live a full, rich life.
Keep reading to find out more.
Is Your Fear of Looking Stupid Holding You Back?
We all mess up. Sometimes we make mistakes, other times we fail completely. And you know what? Life seems to keep going.
No one’s stopping in their tracks because you did something that made you look stupid. Well, maybe they will for a minute. But that’s just their curiosity getting the better of them. It has nothing to do with you as an individual, and it certainly has nothing to do with your actions.
Everyone gets butterflies in their stomachs and their heart thumps in their chest. That’s called life, but it’s meant to be a sign that you shouldn’t go ahead with your plans.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: everyone gets that feeling. Even Type a personalities with massive accomplishments and impressive achievements. Underneath all that, there’s a fear of looking stupid that nags at their subconscious.
The fear of looking stupid can manifest itself in various forms. Read ahead to find out if any of the following sound familiar.
The constant grip of perfectionism can leave you terror-stricken and numb. You’re always anxious that if you miss just one thing, everything will come crashing down around you.
You don’t give yourself the credit you deserve for all the hard work you put in. Nor do you allow yourself to take breaks or time off because you feel you must keep at it until it’s perfect!
You may convince yourself that you hate trying new things because you’re afraid to fail. You ask yourself, “What if I’m not as good at it as the other things I’ve tried before?”
If this resonates with you, it means you see everything you do as a measure of your knowledge and skills. You’re always worried that if you fail, it’ll reflect poorly on the way others see you. In other words, any small failure in your life means that you are a failure also.
Stress and anxiety are a symptom of the fear that sits in the pit of your stomach. This goes double if you’re trying something new and are terrified, you’ll make a fool of yourself.
So, you stay in your comfort zone and away from anything new and unfamiliar. You say to yourself, “This is where my performance is at its best, so why risk it?”
Fixed vs Growth Mindsets
The Cambridge dictionary defines mindset as ‘a person’s way of thinking and their opinions.’
Your mindset is what predetermines how you’ll respond and interpret certain situations. Basically, it’s your general attitude and the way you think about things.
According to Carol Dweck, it’s believed that there are two types of mindsets: fixed and growth. One traps you in its little world, whereas the other helps you expand and grow as an individual.
Let’s find out more about each type.
Believing that your traits are fixed means you believe there’s no hope for change. No matter how hard you try, you won’t be any good if you’re not naturally talented or intelligent.
A fixed mindset convinces you that your successes are a result of your intelligence and talent. Any effort on your part is not part of the equation.
Anyone with a fixed mindset believes that they’re either good at something or they’re not. There’s no gray area, no learning curve.
This way of thinking is one of the reasons they miss out on so much in life. They’re afraid to challenge themselves for fear they’ll look stupid and incompetent. As a result, they miss out on some crucial growth and learning opportunities. Some of them may even be loads of fun where you get to meet new people and try new things.
According to researchers at Harvard Business School, many of us are shy about asking others for advice and help. Why? We’re afraid of looking stupid. But the truth is, we’ve got it completely backwards.
These researchers found that those who ask for advice are seen to be more competent, not less. They’re considered perceptive, smart go-getters, not stupid at all as we once thought!
Here are several ways you can combat a fixed mindset. Use these tips to step out of your head, change your outlook, and see yourself for the amazing person you truly are.
- Learn to be resilient
- Practice gratitude
- Become in touch with your emotions and self-esteem
- Embrace failure
- Change your negative self-talk to one that’s more constructive and positive
Having a growth mindset means you believe your abilities and skills can be developed. It means challenging yourself and giving yourself time to learn something new. That’s how you’ll get better, smarter, and more talented.
A good example of a growth mindset is challenging yourself. Living fearlessly and taking risks is part of a growth mindset.
People with this type of mindset embrace failure. They have no qualms about looking stupid. They’re self-confident about who they are and what they want out of life.
They know that true failure comes when they stop trying, not because they’re not good. In fact, many people see failure as a positive sign of learning and growth.
One of the most famous people who have a growth mindset is Thomas Edison. He said, “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Now imagine Edison had a fixed mindset. Imagine he was afraid of living fearlessly and looking stupid. Imagine he didn’t take any risks on his inventions and ideas. Where would we be without his countless inventions?
Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone is afraid of looking stupid. It’s up to you how you react to that fear.
Do you feel afraid, but still do the thing anyway? Or do you shy away from challenges and prefer the coziness of your comfort zone?
The best way to live fearlessly is to focus on your values and strengths. You should also be willing to accept that some of the things you do will look stupid.
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