Anxiety and Our Obsessions About What Others Think

You know in life we often get easily influenced by what we think that others think about us. I like to refer to this as being obsessed with others thoughts. This is a form of anxiety that often paralyzes our freedom to be ourselves.  Don’t be discouraged if you experience this type of anxiety.  Being obsessed with others thoughts is quite common.  We do it all the time.  You would probably be abnormal if you did not experience this type of anxiety from time to time.

Common Anxiety Themes

So what are some of the common things we obsess over?  Well, we often obsess over what others will think about what we will wear, how we look, the way we walk, how we might answer a question, the cars we drive, the houses we live in, whom we date or marry, how our kids look, what our partner would say if we mentioned this…and the list goes on.  We often go through extremes to create situations where others will think, speak and respond to us in a favorable manner.

Do We Really Know What Others Are Thinking?

The truth is we really don’t know what others think when it comes to their thoughts about us. Though sometimes we may have an element of understanding, there is no way to verify that we know what others are thinking about us, unless they tell us.  Even when they tell us, what they tell us is only half the story.  What they often don’t speak about is the anxiety and insecurities that they have that prompted them to start messing with you. But being overly concerned about what someone else is thinking can really cause a great deal of stress or anxiety.  When we can not nail down what others are thinking about us we create in our minds scenarios, lines, and even conversations that answer these questions for us.

Anxiety About Asking Others For Help

So let’s keep it light.  Say for instance you are in the grocery store and you have been anxiously circling around the grocery store for more than five minutes. You see a worker dressed in uniform, but you fail to stop and ask them for help. Why is this? Many times unconsciously we have told ourselves that there is something wrong with asking for help. Maybe we unconsciously have anxiety feelings that tell us that we will be bothering them if we ask for help. Maybe we are scared, anxious and afraid that as soon as we ask for help, we will look up at the sign at the top of the aisle, and it will say Cereal Isle 12 (the aisle you are on).

Anxiety When Asking Questions In A Group


Here’s another anxiety obsession that we may sometimes have.  Let’s say for instance that you are in a training. The training that you are attending involves a group of strangers who are in your profession. The trainer asks a question about a particular scenario that you feel you know the answer to, but yet you are too anxious to raise your hand and state the answer. Why?

Perhaps you think the answer that you have in mind is obvious and you will be saying something that everybody else already knows. Maybe you know the answer but you have anxiety about your ability to articulate what you are trying to say clearly. Or perhaps you think you know the answer but you were not so sure, and you begin to have anxiety while thinking about how the group would respond if you said something that you think is stupid.

I can’t tell you how many of us have anxiety about saying something stupid, but who really decides that what you said is stupid. At any particular time do you have a group meeting with all the participants and the vote goes out and it is decided that the majority rules that the answer that you gave was voted stupid?  This is hardly the scenario that any of us will ever face.  Still very often fear and anxiety tell us that we would just die if anyone was to have an opposing view.  We feel life would end if we were to place ourselves in an anxiety-producing situation where we received embarrassment or God forbid we were to say something that we feel or others feel is stupid.

Who Creates Negative Thoughts About Me?

Who really determines that there is something bad about what we have said? Who determines that something that is important for us to say is not worth getting an answer for? Who comes up with the idea that it is a bad thing to say something that is incorrect or sounds ridiculous. We should ask the question, just because I say something that I believe is stupid or ridiculous, does that then mean that I am stupid and ridiculous? If not, what is the big deal?  Could it be that you are spending to much time obsessing about others thoughts, and have not completely developed a firm enough constitution for what you think about yourself?

About Choya

LICSW Social Work Licensure Supervisor and Mental Health Counselor in Huntsville, AL 35806

Choya Wise is the owner of Aspire Counseling and Consulting Services a mental health clinic in the Huntsville, Al area.  As a licensed mental health professional Choya specializes in individual counseling, couples therapy, anxiety, and depression counseling.  He also offers Social Work Supervision in Alabama and Anger Management Classes.

Speak Your Mind


1955 Rideout Dr. Ste 400
Huntsville, AL 35806
(256) 212-0567

Got Questions?
Send a Message!

By submitting this form via this web portal, you acknowledge and accept the risks of communicating your health information via this unencrypted email and electronic messaging and wish to continue despite those risks. By clicking "Yes, I want to submit this form" you agree to hold Brighter Vision harmless for unauthorized use, disclosure, or access of your protected health information sent via this electronic means.