What Will They Think?

Far too many freelancers suffer from it. And quite frankly, I think it’s the cause of many of the fears holding you back from success.

I’m talking about being an approval addict.

Personally, this has been the biggest thing I’ve been working to overcome. I’m convinced it’s THE root cause of the fears and insecurities many of us freelancers face.

When you’re a “people pleaser” and care too much about what others think:

  • Marketing yourself leaves you feeling completely self-conscious and vulnerable to negative opinions and criticisms.
  • You never feel quite ready to launch your business … and want to be “perfect” before you make your first move (after all, what if you make a mistake and a client isn’t happy with it?).
  • You have a hard time saying no to projects and clients who aren’t a good fit for your business goals because you feel guilty and don’t want to offend them.
  • You never reach your full potential because your actions are based on what you think will gain the approval of clients, family, friends, etc.

Regardless of how it manifests in your life and freelancing career, the bottom line is that caring too much about what others think allows fear to hold you back.

The solution?

Realize that you don’t really have control over what people think of you.

You can’t please everyone, and there are simply too many factors that go into someone’s opinion. (For example, maybe you catch them on a bad day … so no matter how much you try to please them, it won’t make a difference either way.)

The only things you DO have control over are your own thoughts and behaviors.

So be kind to yourself. Recognize your accomplishments. See the value you bring to the table, and realize your worth is independent of what others think.

And be honest with yourself. Who do you want to be? What do you want to do? Are you trying to change who you are in an attempt to “fit in”? Don’t let yourself be influenced by what you think other people want you to be or do.

This self-reflection is important because far too many approval addicts put other people’s needs ahead of their own – in a way that is harmful to their own wellbeing and happiness.

In the world of freelancing, for example, maybe you’re considering getting a “real” job because everyone around you seems to disapprove of the path you’ve chosen. Or maybe you’re working on projects you don’t enjoy simply because you don’t want to lose a client or tell them no.

It’s scary to act in spite of what other people may think. But you’ll find that the more you do it, the easier it becomes to tear down the walls of fear that are keeping you from achieving your goals.

Start small if you need to …

For instance, say what you really feel in situations where you would normally keep quiet. Instead of always agreeing, offer a dissenting opinion, and give your reasons why. Wear something funky to work, and shrug off any comments you get.

Get creative with it. And most importantly, make sure it’s true to who you are as a person.

Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde sums it up nicely:

“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

Are you an approval addict? Share your story in the comments section.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

At last, a professional organization that caters to the needs of direct-response industry writers. Find out how membership can change the course of your career. Learn More »

Click to Rate:
Average: 5.0
Published: October 16, 2012

8 Responses to “What Will They Think?”

  1. Excellent article, Guillermo! :-)

    Guest (Serena Bahe)

  2. Great article, Guillermo!

    "Be Yourself. Everyone else is taken." That's classic.

    I stopped seeking the approval of others a long time ago. Think about it:

    If you don't go after what you want, you're criticized for being afraid. And when you do, folks tell you to play it safe and hang on to your job.

    You can't stop people from talking. Criticisms are really compliments in disguise. So next time, just say "Thank You". It disables the critic and shows that you're serious about your success.


  3. You ROCK, G!!! This is right on the money. Thanks for spelling it out so well!

    I'd tell my story but I'm too busy working on those specs for Bootcamp! :-)


  4. Thank you for writing this article, it definitely struck a cord with me. A testament to your skill as a writer, no doubt. The message is valuable, and I've decided to print a copy and keep it handy on my desk. Thank you Guillermo.

    Guest (Art McC)

  5. Thank you again for these encouraging words. Because of you and AWAI, I find myself talking more now, and I am able to give my opinions even though they are not acceptable or welcome to everyone around... It is great to have gained some confidence


  6. Another quote that seems to be appropriate in this case is Rudyard Kipling's line "... If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too ...".

    The whole of his poem If could be applied to being a freelancer (or just being a free person). After all, isn't choosing the freelancer's path a choice to go your own way and not march in lockstep with the herd on their rutted and well-worn path, to somebody else's tune?


  7. This really hit home for me, G. I'm often collecting more info to improve rather than practicing what I know. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm keeping a copy close by as a reminder to be myself.


  8. After spending 12 years doing speeches and evaluations for Toastmaster International, I have gotten over this. But it took awhile. Toastmasters is the most wonderful opportunity for an author to feel confident about what he/she does! Trust me. I learned quickly that everyone has thier own opinion and you can never predict what that opinion will be. Its good to get many different opinions. This can also help to develop you as a writer. I highly recommend it!

    Guest (Danette Key)

Guest, Add a Comment
Please Note: Your comments will be seen by all visitors.

You are commenting as a guest. If you’re an AWAI Member, Login to myAWAI for easier commenting, email alerts, and more!

(If you don’t yet have an AWAI Member account, you can create one for free.)

This name will appear next to your comment.

Your email is required but will not be displayed.

Text only. Your comment may be trimmed if it exceeds 500 characters.

Type the Shadowed Word
Too hard to read? See a new image | Listen to the letters

Hint: The letters above appear as shadows and spell a real word. If you have trouble reading it, you can use the links to view a new image or listen to the letters being spoken.

(*all fields required)