#69: When you’re afraid how someone will react (What’s REALLY going on)

Sep 14, 2023
Kirsten Parker
#69: When you’re afraid how someone will react (What’s REALLY going on)
So many choices are influenced by our fear of eliciting certain reactions from other people.

This is FOPO in action, right?

Fear of people’s opinions swooping in to compel us to not say what we mean, not advocate for what we want, agree to stuff we don’t want to do...

This mostly happens on a small scale. But when it becomes a decision-making habit, it can result in BIG life choices (where you live, work you do, who you spend your time with).

Obviously, you don't want to base your biggest decisions on "how So-n-So might react" — and that's what today's episode will help you with.

Knowing what's REALLY going on when you're afraid of what someone will think / feel / do in response to your choices can FREE you from making decisions out of FOPO!

Here's the truth:

Much of our fear of people’s reactions is actually a fear that we’ll be disappointed in them.

Let’s say you’re thinking of telling your long-time boss/mentor/friend that you’re leaving your job to start your next chapter (CONGRATULATIONS), but you’re worried they’re going to be upset at you for “abandoning the team”...what are you really afraid of?

That reaction doesn’t sound pleasant, granted.

But looking at it from another angle, you see that this is a pretty unsupportive and judgmental response. 

If your best friend’s boss said that after hearing her news that she’s leaving, you’d probably think “Wow, what a monumental disappointment that your boss is so stressed, self-focused and short-sighted that they can’t be at all professional, let alone happy for you. BUMMER.”

What about if you wanna do your own thing with your family for the holidays, instead of doing what’s expected or assumed by the whole extended fam,and you’re concerned your mom will take it personally and think you don’t love her anymore.

Ok, perhaps a bit extreme but everybody has a drama enthusiast in the family…

And sure, none of us wants Mom to think or feel that, right?

BUT, if Mom is so unwilling to open her mind to the idea that you can 1000% love her and do exactly what you want…isn’t that her choice at some point? Doesn’t she have the opportunity to consider that you being happy might be nice, and might not have anything to do with her, and even if she’s disappointed she might also be able to have a good time? 

Again, after the initial sting of that uncomfortable reaction, we can see how what you’re REALLY afraid of here is that your mom will show herself to be a little bit of a guilt-tripping, manipulative, selfish person. 

Which would be a BUMMER.

SO often, that is what we don’t want: the bummer of the reality that someone’s not “better.”

We’re afraid to find out someone’s not as supportive, understanding, accepting, professional, respectful, forgiving or loving as we want them to be – as we hope they are.

To be clear: We’re not saying they’re WRONG for this reaction. Everyone’s on their own path, everyone’s doing today’s version of “their best.” 

When you zoom out and sprinkle a little objectivity on these situations, they’re just unfortunate convergences of two people wanting the other person to be different for a moment. 

Does it feel nearly impossible to be objective when it comes to FOPO in real-time? Yes. That’s why we’re planting this idea seed.

I want you to just consider this the next time you’re afraid of what someone will think or say. 

After that initial gut-punch feeling of “GAH – not happy”...it just might be possible that you’re afraid of being disappointed by them.

And while that might not make any of this more fun to experience, it CAN help you have more compassion for yourself, more compassion for this person, and therefore have a less stressful experience overall.

Because really, if your friend doesn’t have the capacity to respect your decision to honor your health and cancel plans…or if your loved one can’t access any support for you pursuing work you love but that they don’t approve of…or if a coworker won’t even try to find some happiness for your success because they’re making it about their own failure…isn’t that a shame? 

Can’t you imagine their lives being less stressful, and them being a bit more secure / happy / peaceful if they weren’t creating this suffering for themselves? It’s not wrong - but it is a shame. And you can have compassion for that. 

Let me know what happens in your mind garden with this idea, and if you haven’t already, make sure to check out how we can work together!

We’re gearing up for Fall right now real-time, and this is a GREAT time to take a deep breath, organize your thoughts, and make some decisions about what the rest of this year is going to be for you.

If you need help with that, I’m here. 


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