What is a Fear of Self-Exposure on Social Media
The fear of self-exposure on social media is one that shadows almost every blogger and business owner who needs to put herself out there, and, between you and me, anyone who ever uploaded anything to a social network (meaning, everyone).
As a personal coach, I see many bloggers afraid of exposing themselves, or businesswomen who need to be promoting their business online, and hesitate.
These women all share the same fear – “What will they say?”
A new form of social anxiety.
Even women who can handle criticism often worry about being perceived as “boring”, “unrealistic”, “who does she think she is?!” Bringing to mind these phrases, and others. To be honest, I’ve never met a blogger who could say these phrases haven't crossed her mind. I too have personally dealt with this fear – becoming a fashion blogger in 2011 most definitely helped me build an armor 🙂
The coaching process is a way to break that barrier and leave it behind, and while the process is personally customized, there are a number of common aspects that work like a charm that you can start practicing today!
So here are five tools to help you get rid of the fear of self-exposure on social media…
When we feel connected to the reason why we do what we do, it is easiest to silence any background noise and interferences. If I’d like to achieve something and posting on social media scares me and paralyzes me, that fear can harm the goal I would like to achieve.
Before we set out to reach our goal, it is important to remind ourselves of the “why”?
Why do you do what you do?
Our “why” will lead us to our “how”, keep us ambitious and motivated, and help us overcome any obstacles on our way.
Make a list of the opportunities that will become accessible to you once you reach your goal, close your eyes, and imagine yourself at that point, connect to everything that drives you to reach it.
Becoming connected with your “Why” will remind you of what led you to choose this goal in the first place, and scale down your fear. Weighing your fear and your aspiration to achieve your goal, the volume of the little voice in your head will become lower.
When you set a goal for yourself, it is important to consider the potential obstacles involved – we might experience a feeling of being unsuccessful, on the way to our much-anticipated success. If negative criticism is an obstacle, take into account that every critical word is just as much a part of your journey to success you can learn from it, progress, and it will make you stronger.
1. Worst case scenario list
List all the scenarios that come to mind and scare you, and you will approach each one of them. I am not crazy- trust me, it really helps to write them down on a piece of paper. You know that feeling when something makes sense in your mind, and as you express it outwardly and put it into words you realize how unsensible it is? The same happens with our fears. Many times writing them down will reduce their power over us.
By each of these scenarios, make a note to yourself about how you will deal with each one. If there are certain words you’re afraid of hearing – write down how you should react and what you should say to yourself if they come your way.
This list will prepare you for anything, and you’ll feel good knowing you have the tools to take any critique said about your work, and you can diminish your fear.
At this point I’d like to calm you down – 99.99% of the time, the worst-case scenario remains in our head. The list is to help you feel more confident in yourself and in your ability to deal with whatever comes…
2. Ideal Scenario
A list of all the good things that could happen if you take the step you so fearful of taking. The opposite list of the previous one.
Sometimes, we are so nervous and afraid it keeps us from seeing any other option except for people telling us we’re out of our minds, boring, etc. But the truth is, while it is possible we’ll hear such reactions, it is just as possible that we won’t! Either way, it is still worth it as you advance toward reaching your goal. A list of all the good that can come out of this “scary” endeavor will help you focus your attention on what really matters.
Like in any goal, taking baby steps is key. It can be very stressful to think ahead. After breaking down the goal into steps to achieve it, one of the most common reactions I hear in my coaching sessions is “Wow, suddenly it seems so simple.” Which is exactly what the reaction should be.
If you know you need to upload an entire course of you speaking in front of a camera, and just the thought scares you, don’t focus on the long-term goal (in this case, you speaking in front of a camera for numerous lessons) rather, break it into baby steps that you will be taking there: upload an image today, a story tomorrow, and in two days turn the camera toward you for a short video, and so on. As we progress, it’s important that we notice how we slowly move out of our comfort zone but never too far to cause us to avoid it.
If fear holds you back from doing something, think about the little steps that can be taken on the way. Break your goal into small, practical fragments, and get to it.
A moment before we expose ourselves, I highly recommend you share your content with those close to you, and with whom you feel most comfortable. A sense of support from our close circles is important, it eases our fear. Fear of criticism is often linked to our close friends or family. The nature of the close connection, and the honest relationship, have us fearing they might say something, even as a joke, that will be more harmful than they intended.
At this point, it’s important for me to touch upon another point, when we throw a comment out to the air, whether joking or serious, it’s not really ‘ours’. It’s a comment that comes from how they see us through their filter, personal experiences, their personal journeys, and sometimes humoring themselves on someone else’s account is part of how they deal. It does not belong to you, and you shouldn’t take it too personally, or let it penetrate.
With that being said, people don’t usually wake up in the morning with the intention to hurt another 🙂
So if you include people in your plan to share a story of you talking, more of your photos, or take any action that discourages you on social networks, 99% you will have the support of your closest surrounding.
This support is important for two reasons:
- They will most probably be more sensitive about crossing any lines, knowing you’re stressed, nervous, and excited about what you’re up to.
- If anybody does cross a line, and you’ll be faced with unpleasant criticism, then you'll have the support and protection of your close environment.
A support system can also consist of people you don’t know personally but have been through, or are currently experiencing a similar experience to yours, and know how to be there for you, based on their own experience.
Focus on those who need you
In nearly 99% of the cases – exposure on social media is done for the sake of a higher purpose. Our wish to share and publish content doesn’t come from anywhere, if we chose to share something it must mean something – it is meant to reach someone. Otherwise, we would probably continue keeping things to ourselves or advertise our business in platforms that don’t require self-exposure. One of the things that helps my coachees most, is focusing on those who can be helped by their content.
When you think about not uploading your video, for example, think about the one girl who you wanted to reach, and is in need of your knowledge. We belong to a greater human fabric, everything we do affects the other, and knowing we can have a positive impact, knowing we have the power to help someone out from behind the screen, that can really help you move forward and jump headfirst into the waters you slightly fear. So next time you’re afraid, close your eyes and imagine who it is you’d want to share your content with, imagine the influence it can have on them, and you’ll be overcome with a sense of satisfaction.
I hope these tools will help you get over your fear and reach your goals on social media. If you’ve dealt with this fear in the past, I’d love to hear from you about what tips and tools helped you get through it the last time.
My name is Yarden Levin, a positive psychology and NLP coach, I hold a B.A in Psychology.
I’ve been a blogger for over a decade, and as you can know before people knew what a blog actually was, it was a criticism magnet… My own personal fear led me to want to help you gracefully skip over this barrier on the way to achieving your goal. Today I run Piece of Air, a blog about personal development and coaching tools, and manage the PositiviTeam Facebook group, a community designed to help everyone find the support system they need and get practical coaching tools for finding and fulfilling their goals.
You’re welcome to join us and get the tools that will get you to your big break