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Updated: Nov 21, 2022

This fear of man series will be of many sub-parts. The aim is to uncover what it takes or may take to overcome different fears. I intend to be as honest and authentic as possible in my writing; my heart is to share my process, deep revelations and encounters that have led to my breakthrough.

The term fear of man may or may not be familiar to you but you have mostly likely come across or used “fear of God” in your vocabulary. What do we mean by the fear of God? In my own little expression: fear of God means a sensitivity or an awakening to respect God, be conscious about pleasing Him with all your actions or about what He may think or thinks about your motives for the sake of maintaining relationship, reverence, approval or avoiding consequences. This is a rather simple analogy but it is a starting point

Now, what do we mean by the fear of man? If we can say the above of the fear of God then we can also say that fear of man is when we do all of the above but to a fellow man instead of God. I have struggled with ‘the fear of man’ in many areas in my life and I have seen it lead to other kinds of fear.

It could be as mild as accepting a wrong product or service at a store because of fear of looking bad or unkind if I speak up or look like avoiding simple confrontation at work or at home, or being hesitant to set boundaries in dishonoring and disrespectful relationships or cutting ties with an abusive relationships to mention a few.

In other words, allowing what people have said or may say or do to drive my actions, reaction, decisions or emotions. Most times people haven’t said ‘yet’ but we tend to base our judgment on what we “assume” they might say.

Overtime, I found that I gave more voice to man’s opinion in almost every area of life and gave less weight to the voice of God. I can recount several occasion where I found myself in more surrender to people more than I submitted to God.

I believed that my actions or (moves) could influence how others think or perceive me, so I found myself always needing to explain, justify or defend myself. I always fought to protect or correct whatever impression that people had or made of me in whatever situation. I had placed very high stakes to what somebody believed of me in every situation.

Next, I will share some simple real life examples that you may find relatable. One of such is when someone would see me eat or serve a large portion of food whether in my own home or in public, I felt the urge to explain that it was my first meal that day (hoping that you don’t judge me for eating a lot or assume that I had an eating disorder or something disoriented). Even worse, I would feel the prompting to mention (to someone not asking) that I was an ulcer patient or and that my stomach capacity was small or that I was just forcing myself to eat. Basically, putting up self-defense to a no case conversation and rendering information that wasn’t asked.

When I would go into a restroom around friends or within a group setting and take time, I felt the need to manage whether someone thinks Its a wee or a poo :D (forgive my TMI😻 here :)) Fact is that even if the thought or wonder crossed their minds, what others do with their thoughts is never for me to manage. Even so, why should whatever I was doing in the restroom matter to anyone at all? This sounds simple but you will surprised by how much we entertain the war of the mind.

When I would send someone a text message or speak to someone and they take their time to respond, I felt the pressure to go back and check what I sent or said over and over to check that I did not say or do anything wrong. My point is that I always felt the need to cushion or guide peoples opinion of me or of what I was doing. It was my attempt to prevent being misunderstood or misjudged.

The following are the questions I asked myself during my process of finding breakthrough:

Why do I care to protect whether I am misunderstood or not?

What do I fear will happen if I am misunderstood?

What was I or am I afraid of?

If you already can relate, please feel free to take a moment and ask yourselves too.

Here are some other examples:

When I would take a shower and worry that if I stay long my housemate or somebody might think I am wasting resources or that that someone might think it is unfair that I take longer or more showers than they do. Unconsciously I would try to plan my defense ahead, prepare or find a solution to what I think people are thinking before they even think it.

When I would put so much high stakes before responding to a text message because I am analyzing how the person (he or she ) will think. Note here: I am referring to the heart behind the analysis not that it is wrong to proofread your context. Something unconsciously tells me that I can have control over how you think or see me or I can influence your view or perception of me through something I do “if I do them right enough’.

Further questions that helped me process were: What was so pertinent about people’s opinion of me being good?

Why is it so important that people must know, see, or experience me as a nice person?

(Note: its one thing to be nice, its another to strive or live to be “seen as nice” )

As I endeavor to uncover these, please feel free to personalize the questions as you relate.

Somewhere in my life or from growing up in my culture, I picked up that the gateway to success is to please people. Subsequently this meant I believed that approval of man determined every success. I operated my life on a pass or fail basis everyday and every moment i.e. every action needed strict self judgement and critique which sometimes disguised as self-reflection. I judged things as either BLACK or WHITE, perfect or blemished, win or lose.

Eventually, I found myself in the world of people pleasers, dancing to the tune of ‘wanting to be accepted or singing to any chords that validated my need for approval or quenched the thirst for affirmation until I got so lost in performance. I started to measure success or failure by how many people gave an applause, pleased or displeased, upset or disappointed by my actions or behavior.

I would torment myself with the following questions in the name of reflecting on my day:-

How good was my ‘performance’ today?

Did I make everyone happy?

Did I tick everybody’s box?

If you have ever auditioned for anything, you may remember the nerve recking feeling just before you perform and worse after performance while you wait to be judged. Now, imagine the everyday life if we enslave ourselves to peoples opinion on everything, it is like living in anxiety or worse all day, everyday.

I think that living in bondage of any kind is like living from a closet with the lock outside and you always need permission or approval of people on the outside to open it in order to access basic necessity like fresh air. This is unfortunate because fresh air is free but someone else has been given power to dominate and manage the access you can have to something that’s yours. This is highly unhealthy.

In a matter of time, all of the striving to be accepted becomes a root that grows into many branches. I have seen it grow into fear of being rejected, fear of failing, lack of self-confidence, procrastination, self -doubt, self-criticism, self-hatred, overthinking, oversensitivity and more. Attempting anything becomes a nightmare because simple mistakes are seen as failures.

If failure means a lot more to you than “trying again, making another attempt or trying harder”, then little things that make people feel human such as asking others for help becomes difficult regardless of how small. For me, it was like a coin with two sides reading acceptance on one or rejection on the other, Yes as being accepted and No as being rejected. As a result, I avoided asking for help and I succeeded in hiding under the shelf of independence. It became clear that I resolved to doing as many things by myself, learnt a lot of self-sufficiency, self management skills because of distrust and fear of being rejected.

When I would be brave enough to ask for help, I found that I watered down my needs or magnified my case to present myself as a victim consciously or unconsciously. It was a way to “control” or guide your interpretation of what I was asking. I have found that playing victim is a symptom of fear which could be to prove that : you are worth it, to avoid blame or or out of your hunger for empathy or you don’t believe you are worth an assistance without earning it.

It followed that I also avoided saying no to others, declining an offer or sharing a contrary view so that they don’t feel rejected. Evidently, this was only natural, and the saying that what you give (or receive) from others is how you also respond or garbage in (flawed input), garbage out (nonsense output), or the recent ones such as hurt people hurt people, wounded people attract unhealthy people, e.t.c. proved true.

Our brain cells have a way of creating a pathway from repeated patterns, you can be around people with the same mindset or fears and naturally construct your truth based on what you have seen and known. Definitely, in a skewed or unhealthy environment, there is no doubt that your assumptions about what people are thinking or will think of or about you or your actions are correct. I only doubt whether such relationships will ever lead you into true peace or give you full permission to be yourself.

On the other hand, healthy people will ask clarifying questions before making conclusive assumptions. People that choose you for who you are will always make good excuses for you and root to call you up higher. When they do call you out, they will do so with the purest intention and provide clear covering.

Bringing it all home: The road to freedom

To find breakthrough, it has taken a lot of intentionality and willingness to learn, unlearn and relearn. Here are practical steps to your breakthrough:-

  • Take authority by doing the opposites: For me, I consciously believed or fed myself with the direct opposite of any depressing thoughts, fears, and imaginations. To do this, you have to purposefully counter any thoughts of rejection and replace it what the Lord says about you. Replace every lie that comes to your head with God’s truth. There is so much power in using words to break lies and declare truth.

This is not as simple as it sounds : You will have to : know and believe what the Lord says or thinks of you, genuinely believe that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, truly see that you are worthy of love and celebration, believe that people like you for who you are, who God made you to be and that you do not need to strive for love or acceptance or be anything less of you.

If believing these in itself is a struggle or feels unreal to you, please sit with the the Holy Spirit and give Him permission to take you on a love encounter with Him, He knows all things. I believe firmly that we all have access to the Holy Spirit.

  • Process with people you trust and admire: find a community of healthy and pure hearted people that you can study and learn from, you will never know how much you can unpack just by staying around healthy families: if you watch with intention. Personally, I took advantage of different healthy relationships I came across, I asked questions where I could, admired how they purely cared and looked out for one another and created no room for anyone to doubt their acceptance, love or worth. Then I would find a mentor, friend, or someone to process what I was learning and having unlearning.

  • Facing reality: face facts, put sentiments aside and tell yourself truth. As with the case of feeling rejected when people say No, I had to re-learn that a question is a type of interrogation that always leads to varying outcomes.

A question is not a statement. Therefore, no one including me should feel deprived of the choice of differing outcomes at any time. I had to honestly ask myself whether I am genuinely trying to ask a question or trying to pose a statement as a question just to sound polite. Sit with yourself and deal with whatever answers you uncover.

As a believer, I am growing to allow the voice of God to be the loudest in my thoughts, and this cuts out the weight of striving to please men. Isaiah 2:22

Of what importance is it for me to be afraid of mans impression? Another version says: Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?. My interpretation here is that I should never need to justify my intentions or motives to anyone = because the one who matters the most knows and sees it all. No man’s approval should be my qualifier and no one should be placed on pedal stool. We are all on a journey and no one perfectly knows it all.

I am actively intentional about processing with the Holy Spirit, this allows me to declutter my mind and hear Him whisper truth over lies I believe. I encourage you to take advantage of this too, it is FREE and safe. Keep practicing how to listen to Him until you fully know His voice. Start with confirming everything you hear with the word of God, He can never mislead you and anything He has said is His word is always true.

No one was born an expert, its a day by day trust your process like everything else in life.

Lastly, Hebrews 12:14 says make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Another version says Follow peace. If it means obeying your spirit, asking question, being vulnerable, if it means not having the last word, if it means not explaining yourself, clarifying your intentions or not…trace the path and footsteps that bring you peace of mind.

Also: Romans 12:2 - Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. This scripture says it all and one of the ways It spoke to me is where it says but let God transform, meaning even if your mind or mindset has been corrupted - God can transform the way you think if you give Him permission.

Writer’s note:

If you are reading this and really relate with my process or parts, I pray for you that you will see the Lord's arm of restoration over your life. More than anything, I pray you will find peace that surpasses understanding. I pray for you for courage to believe in the beauty of your being, there is no one like you and ever going to be anyone like you. Don’t deprive the world of knowing the real person that you are because of fear of rejection. You are special and PRICELESS and WORTHY of Love. I tell you, You are a whole package and it is a privilege for a tonne of people to have you in their life. What an Honor to even have you come on here and read all the way true. You are special.

Also, you treasured one!, I want you to know how much the Lord is fighting for your breakthrough. I cannot describe the intensity of both spiritual and physical obstacles I battled with during the process of writing, but I could feel the Lord strongly reinforcing me through it all because someone needed this freedom from the fear of rejection. If that person is you, You are truly special! I pray you find deliverance.

Thank You for reading and hopefully subscribing. Please stay in touch and let me know how this is impacting you.

STAY Tuned for MORE!!.

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Unknown member
Aug 10, 2021

I totally enjoyed the read. Would share. Also I am so proud of you, the process you opened up to and how far you have come. Looking forward to your many successes.

P.S. please use your images for your post. We want to see your beautiful self darling.

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