2. Our shyness can come across as condemnation or judgment.
"Mostly in the Church, we stay within our own little circle. It’s comfortable. We’re familiar with the Mormon culture," shares a writer from the blog Unconquerable Soul, one who was born and raised in Washington, New York, and Japan.
"I can’t tell you how many people have complained that churchgoers are judgmental and hoity-toity. So many people refuse to go to church because they think they would be judged. Or because they’ve gone before but were ignored. Or because they can’t find anyone there who really gets them or who will actually talk about the very real problems they’re going through. . . . Let me speak to you who feel like this. What you see as judgment is more likely to be nothing more than shyness, social awkwardness, and not really knowing what to say."
At Church, I've been both at the giving and receiving end of this relationship. In fact, one of my very best friends once told me a little bashfully, "You won't believe this, but when I first met you, I thought you didn't really talk to me because you were a little stuck up or thought you were too good for me."
The truth was, I hadn't made an extra effort to get to know this friend because I felt the very same way about him. It wasn't until frequent Church callings and activities threw us together that we both realized just how wrong we'd been. Neither of us were stuck up, snooty, or judgmental. We're just the kind of people who take a little while to warm up to new friends. But once we get to know you, we'll be loyal friends for life.
So give people the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes shyness can look a lot like judgment. And on the flipside, be willing to get out of your comfort zone. It doesn't matter what people felt or thought or said about you in the past. Figure out how you'll build a friendship with them in the future.
3. Self-consciousness says more about you than the people around you.
When thoughts begin running through your head about how everyone is judging you, staring at you, or thinking badly of you, that's the perfect time to stop and reevaluate yourself. This kind of anxiety nearly paralyzed me at times in junior high until the beautiful moment I finally stopped and realized: no one cares. Everyone else was too preoccupied with their own problems to worry much about scrupulously examining mine. And if they wanted to waste their time with finding my flaws, they could go ahead, because I wasn't going to waste mine anymore with worrying what they thought.
When you begin to feel judgment or strange stares, stop and evaluate for a moment if maybe you are projecting your own thoughts onto other people's behavior. Is there a reason you maybe feel guilty, out of place, or self-conscious? If so, either fix it or forget about it and let other people speak for themselves. There's really no way you can know what they are thinking.