Overcoming the Fear of What Other People Think About You

By: Guest Blogger

I couldn’t fall asleep. My heart was heavy and my mind was spinning with one thought – my imperfections. The day hadn’t gone very well. I thought of all the people who seemed better than me and I was overwhelmed by emotions.

Eventually, I fell asleep. But mere sleep cannot remedy a struggle.

Our culture today has a very loud voice and it wastes no time in telling us what they think we should be. In grocery store checkout lines and on billboard advertisements we see what the world claims to be “perfection.”

Not to mention, friends, family members, peers and even people in the church throw expectations upon our shoulders as well. “You need to be this smart.” “You need to be this pretty.” “You need to be this talented.” “You need to be this popular.”

We even put expectations on ourselves.

We secretly think things like, “If I only did ‘this’ then I would be a good enough person.”

But what happens when we fall short of all those expectations?

What happens is this.

You end up not being able to fall asleep. You end up walking around with a heavy heart and constantly comparing yourself to others. It’s a distressing state of affairs. I know, because I have been there.

That night when I couldn’t fall asleep, I was afraid. I was imperfect and unfinished and that caused me so much heartache and fear.

Contrary to my (or your) tumultuous feelings, there is great hope found in the Word of God.

Philippians 1:6 says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

Once I grasped this truth, I had so much more hope.

However, just weeks later I was sitting at our family’s dining room table in tears…again.

I understood that it was okay to be imperfect but the voices of people’s expectations were still so loud. I felt like I needed to accomplish all these different things to be a “perfect Christian.”

Yet, no matter how many of these things I checked off I was still just as imperfect as before.

I may have been doing all the right things but my heart was not right. Deep down I wanted people to praise me. I wanted everyone to like me. For once, I just wanted to sit around and talk about guys with my girl friends.

I was weary from trying to meet please everyone and I would rather just feel free and satisfied even if it meant doing things I knew were wrong.

Have you ever felt that way?

I felt imperfect (and I was) but the answer was not trying to live up to expectations of people nor was it swinging the pendulum and forgetting the truth.

Matthew 23:26 says, “You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.” I needed the inside of my heart (my “cup”) to be clean.

I wanted to feel free and satisfied but I would never find it in the futility of the world. John 8:32 says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The truth is we don’t have to follow the many expectations people have for us.

The only expectation that matters is the expectation God has for us.

At the end of Mark chapter 12 a scribe asks Jesus what the greatest commandment (or in other words, the greatest expectation) is.

Jesus proclaims in Mark 12:29-31, “Jesus answered, ‘The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

The opinions of others have a very loud voice in our culture but the voice of God must become louder.

We don’t need to worry about our imperfections because God promises to bring the good work He began in us to completion. He will do it, not us. As Bethany wrote in a previous post, we don’t need to follow a checklist to make us feel better because they will only make us weary.

The truth is what will set us free. Living for God’s glory and not the praises of man is what we’re called to do. 

The only expectation we need to care about is what God expects of us.

No more. No less. And He is looking for a pure heart that loves Him above all else.

Let’s continue the conversation.

What do you think?

  • What imperfections keep you up at night?
  • Do you ever have a desire to “go along with the crowd?” Why?
  • What do you believe God expects of you?
  • Why does God want you to have a clean heart rather than just a “rule following” heart?

This guest post was written by Hannah Johanson. 

Photo Credit

Girl with hat on.

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  • This is so perfect. Thank you so much – I’ve been struggling with this, but they’re expectations that *I* have for *me*. God’s timing is so perfect!

  • Elisabeth

    Wow, thanks so much!!The post was great!!I can definitely relate!!

  • Elizabeth Williams

    Great post! There are definitely so many expectations all around us. I have a chronic illness, so some people think I should go to this doctor, some people believe that I should do things naturally, and some people think I should trust God completely. Ugh! Too many opinions lol There are always going to be expectations put on us–from family, friends, acquaintances, culture, the media, the church, etc. My job is to just be FAITHFUL. Faithful to God and what He’s called ME to do, not someone else 🙂 Really, just to keep my mind on Christ and not on everyone and everything around me.

  • Big Sister

    Great post. Thanks!

  • Melissa

    Thank you so much Hannah!!! This devotional was so insightful for me, because I do love to be a “People Pleaser”, but not to the point where it becomes Dangerous! I still need to be very careful, and only be a “God Pleaser!” God Bless You! 🙂 Thank you for allowing the Lord to Reveal this Truth to me through You! 🙂

  • Lauren

    SO good. Insightful Thank you. xoxo Lauren

  • Melea

    Wow thank you so much for this! I struggle with trying to win people’s approval to, this is very encouraging 🙂 <3 Melea

  • Saira Esther Thomas

    I love this article. God, when created me, he had given me strengths and weaknesses. But it took long journey to figure out why I’m imperfect in some aspects of my life. My heart burdened within me about why I can’t be perfect. There are times I thought giving up my life because I’m not perfect enough. Opinions about public does matter, to some extent but what god taught me, is that he created us with strengths and weaknesses. If we are 100% perfect, then we don’t we need God in our life. God created imperfection in us, so that we lean onto him, rather to our own understanding to live our lives. Bible says God’s grace is enough to whom he trusts, and his power is made in weaknesses.

  • Lauren

    I’m in college so a lot of the thoughts that keep me up at night are school related. I constantly hear from other Christians that the best thing I can do for my life is to be in the ministry full time. However, I really want to be a nurse and I believe that I can still serve God as a nurse. I’m worried that my decision to be a nurse is the wrong one or that being a nurse won’t make me “Christian enough.”

    • Renee

      You don’t have to be in ministry full time to serve God. Serving the Lord is a lifestyle, the words you say, how you treat people, loving on people, worshipping God, and even as you pursue your career you can serve God by being christ to your patients, praying over them and speaking life to them, loving on them and sharing the gospel with your colleagues. So be encouraged that you can still serve God whether or not in full time ministry. 1 Corinthians 15 :58,press hard and throw yourself into the work of the Master, and know your labour is not in vain (paraphrased)

      • Lauren

        Thank you! Your comment has helped me tremendously.

        • Hannah Johanson

          Lauren, I have a book recommendation for you that I think would help you a lot. It’s called “Your Work Matters to God” by Doug Sherman & William Hendricks.

  • Grace Waswa

    I love this alot. I remember the many times I struggled with how people and what people thought of me. I wanted to be like them…I thought it what and who I was wasn’t enough. But when I understood God’s perfect love for me..all of that disappeared. I learnt I am not perfect and I have flaws. That Jesus loves the way I am and God had a reason of creating me the way I am. He had a reason for giving me imperfections

  • Jessica

    I love this post!!!! I have felt a weight lifted off me now, as I know that we are all imperfect, but this does not stop us from being used by God! I compare others to myself a lot and I see everyone as ‘higher up’ than myself, like why would anyone choose me when everyone else is so much better than me? I now realise that God’s streangth is made perfect in our weakness and that no one is perfect! God has us here for a plan and a purpose, he wants us to be part of his plan!

  • Abigail Teravskis

    Thank you for sharing your heart! And what a perfect reminder… to find fulfillment in who you are in Christ!

  • B

    1: The fact that my life isn’t honoring and glorifing the Lord completely, and that I don’t have enough courage and faith to witness to others.( and that I’m not allowed)

    2: Yes and no, why? Because I feel like life would be easier and more happy if I did, and that I would relate to other people easier, but no because it’s unbiblical and not Christ centered.

    3:I really don’t know honestly, I keep all of God’s commandments (including the dietary laws, feasts and sabbaths) yet I still don’t know what he really expects of me, I repent everyday and try as much as I can to serve him, but I still don’t feel blessed. 🙁

    4: Because if you have wrong (sin) in your heart, that means you are not set apart, and God is not pleased when his children willfully have sin in their heart, so it must remain pure and clean.

    Does anyone have any advice for me in regards to my answers? My life right now is so unstable, I could really use the prayer

    • Hannah Johanson

      B, I want you to know that I am praying for you. I wrote this post because, like you, I have wrestled beneath the burden of expectations, even the expectations I feel like a God has for me.

      I was reall struck my your answer to question 3.

      • Hannah Johanson

        Oops! Sorry my reply posted before I had finished writing! What I was going to say is that I was struck my your answer to question 3. You said you try hard to follow the commands in Scripture but something you may not know is that the Law was given to us to show that we are sinners (Galations 3). That’s the purpose of all those commands! The Law shows us we are sinners in need of a Savior. B, our Savior is Jesus! All you have to do is trust in Christ alone for your salvation. Dear B, just cry out to Jesus and let these burdens fall of your back! He is kind and tender and will not turn you away no matter what you have done! Jesus is the mediator between us and God. We just have to trust in Him (Jesus) and not what we do. Does that all make sense? Please do not hesitate to respond back with any questions you might have! Praying for you!!

        • B

          Thank you Hannah for replying. I do understand that the Law was to given to us to show us we are sinners, but reading my Bible and seeking Gods direction, I believe that we still have to obey all of His Comandments, Jesus even said “If ye love me, keep my commandments, and the Scripture also says that sin is a transgression of the Law, and also “for where no Law is, there is no transgression”. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, I keep Gods law, because sin still exists, if Christ replaced the Law, then he took away what he died for as well, which is our sin, so sin wouldn’t exist anymore, but it still does! So that’s why I said that about number 3. I am in no way saying that keeping Gods Law is what gets you into heaven (‘working your way to heaven’)
          I understand and believe that the only way is through the blood of Jesus Christ and repentance and faith in Him alone.
          And yes btw that does all make sense!
          Thank you for praying for me, I really need it. .

          • Hannah Johanson

            Good to hear that you believe all the things I said in my first reply to you. Would you be willing to read Colossians 2:6-23 and tell me what you think about it and how it might apply to your original questions? Still praying for you!

          • Hannah Johanson

            Also, B, please feel free to email me at

          • B

            That’s a great chapter! I think I see why you had me read it 😉
            Thank you for replying and the prayer 🙂

          • B

            Whoops sorry! I didn’t read your whole reply
            Here we go 🙂
            1: Colossians 2:6-7 and 9-10
            My life is glorifing and honoring the Lord, not by what I can do, but by what I believe and hold fast to, I’m complete in Him.
            2: Colossians 2:8, my attitude of “feeling like my life would be easier” is wrong, those things that would make it “easier” are not after Christ (Christ centered) but after the World (I did kinda already say that though)

            3: Colossians 2:6-23, I believe it apples to me, by telling me that all God requires of me is to just repent and Believe in Jesus Christ because He is the One who we are complete in. I’m blessed already by what Christ has done 🙂

            4: Colossians 2 6-23 (from my perspective) Doesn’t mean that sin does not exist after Christ died, it still exists (obviously lol) (but it is our duty to NOT sin. Colossians 2:11 when we become circumcised (spiritually) (when we become Saved basically) we are to put off the body of the sins of the flesh, so I don’t see anything too wrong with my original answer to that one, if there is though, could you point it out for me? I always appreciate advice 🙂
            Btw you replying to me has honestly made me think way more and that’s a blessing
            So Thank you 🙂

          • Hannah Johanson

            To a degree, there isn’t anything wrong with your original answer to #4. If we just go about willfully sinning and excusing it because, “oh, I’m saved” that is abusing God’s grace. BUT, rather than feeling burdened by constantly trying to keep every commandment, focus on the gospel. You are a sinner, Jesus is your Savior, you are covered in Him. I love John 15:3, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” It’s a little counterintuitive but cherishing and focusing on the gospel will be far better that focusing on the Law. Imagine yourself covered in Christ and when God looks at you He sees Christ, because you are hidden in Christ (Colossians 3:3).

            Also, just a note on following dietary laws, I’d recommend you read Acts 10:9-16 and let me know what you think about it.

          • B

            I agree Hannah! I’m glad we agree on the gospel.
            About Acts 10:9-16, I’m gonna be honest, it really does confuse me.
            What do you think about it?

          • Hannah Johanson

            Sorry for not responding sooner… for some reason I kept trying to comment but they weren’t posting.

            Anyways… 🙂 Yes, I’m glad we agree on the gospel, too!!

            About dietary laws, I think this passage is showing that Old Testament dietary laws don’t exist under the New Covenant. I read a good article about this from Answers in Genesis that talks about the different covenants God has had with his people regarding food. For example, it was vegetarian in Eden and then after the flood it was all food until Moses when dietary laws were introduced. Then, under the New Covenant all food is allowed once more.

          • B

            It’s ok!
            That is definitely and interesting thought from that passage about the dietary laws not existing in the New Covenant, and it’s something I’m gonna have to pray about and seek Gods direction.
            Even in the New and Old covenants, there is still Clean and unclean animals, like when Noah took the animals on the ark, he took 2 of the unclean, and 7 of the clean. So an incredible thought about that is, the Law (not just the dietary laws) were before Moses! I personally believe that Gods Law is written on every mans heart (how else will we know right from wrong)
            When Adam first sinned, he broke Gods Law (because sin is a transgression of the Law 1 John 3:4)
            And also, can you explain to me why people believe that Jesus took away the Law? Not just the penalty of death for breaking it? Bc growing up I was never taught that Jesus took away the Law, he just fulfilled it. But some of the commandments
            he did take away ( The sacrifices, offerings, priest commandments [bc he is our high priest] the penalty of death for some of them, etc…) thanks! 🙂

          • Hannah Johanson

            Yes, please do pray and seek God’s direction for this! Ultimately, it’s a conscience issue to work out between God and ourselves. I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers and this is really a secondary issue in light of the gospel.

            I agree with you Jesus didn’t take away the Law. For example, the Law says “do not murder” and that is definitely still true today. Plus, the Law is our guide to lead us to Christ, like I mentioned earlier. And of course, with some things (like you were saying sacrifices, etc) we can clearly see how Jesus was the fulfillment of the Law. When it comes to some of the things like dietary laws or civil laws or things like shaving and what clothes you can’t wear, I personally have come to see that in Christ we have freedom in those areas as long as we honor Him.

          • B

            I understand your view point about dietary laws and having freedom in those areas as long as we honor him, and I respect it! It’s an interesting thought.
            I just wanna thank you for taking the time to reply to me, my life right now is just unstable and hard. Especially being in the teen years, I’ve come to a point to where I justs wanna have an opinion that is totally Biblical and not something that some one (my dad) has taught me. (I wanna be taught completely by the Holy Spirit).
            I appreciate your prayers and ask that you continue to pray for me, and if I have any more questions down the road, I hope it’s ok if I email you 🙂
            Thanks again for your wonderful advice and take,

          • Hannah Johanson

            I’m so glad the Lord brought us into contact with each other. I will of course be praying for you and you can absolutely email me anytime! 🙂 I’ve loved discussing these things with you. I don’t even care if we end up on the exact same page but that we both seek after God. The Holy Spirit is faithful to teach us if we come to Him. Love you, B!

  • Ren

    I really struggle a lot with fear…. Or how about the fact I don’t feel like I studied enough yet for my exam on Monday? I feel like I wasn’t there for my friend but I’m also bad at reaching out for help myself out of fear of being a burden. Thus, thank you for this post. This website is a real encouragement. And even if I’m broken pieces, God accepts my pieces and everyone else’s pieces and does not want us to fear. He has not given a spirit of fear. Rather it is a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7)

  • lindsey russo

    I thank God for this post it helped me alot

  • Kennedy Sim

    Hi! I am asking for advice, my parents don’t believe they way I do, I want to worship him and serve him everyday of my life but I feel like I can only when I am by myself. My parent’s call people like us weird, it hurts me because that is who I am and they don’t know. I’m afraid to tell them because I know they will be mad. I’m scared that them not liking it will effect my future like who I marry because if my dad tell know to the christian man I want to marry that I won’t be able to get married. I have friends who are Christians and my mom says their weirdo’s I know they are not that we are not weird we are beautiful <3. I'm 16 and I feel like I am almost too late to live it. Please help me. What should I do?- Kennedy Sim

    • Hannah Johanson

      Kennedy, I can’t imagine how hard this must be for you 🙁 As hard as it is, you should tell your parents. Kindly explain why you decided to become a Christian. Pray for them. Respect their authority, so long as it is nothing that goes against what the Highest Authority (God) says. You have a unique opportunity to evangelize underneath your own roof. Be strong in the Lord, be patient and kind to your parents, pray for them, and trust God in this hard season. Rooting you on, Kennedy, and praying for you!!

      • Kennedy Sim

        Thanks so much Hannah! I took you advice into my heart!

    • Hannah B

      Hi, Kennedy! I’m so sorry you’re going through this, and I’ll definitely be praying for you about it; that God would soften your parents’ hearts toward Him and that He would keep your faith in Him strong. I don’t really know what you should do, I would say that’s God’s call. I would pray consistently to Him, ask Him to open a door of opportunity to talk to your parents about His love and justice. I agree with what Hannah Johnson said, and I really hope that your faith is strengthened through this adversity, and I know you’re going to see God’s goodness and righteousness in this situation and throughout your whole life. God bless you. ❤️

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