What are the negative effects of the fear of being ridiculous?

The fear of being ridiculous is a phenomenon that greatly conditions and limits the lives of many people.

Beyond being a simple attitude to assess the risks and possible benefits of certain social interactions, this psychological phenomenon leads some to minimize relations with those who do not know or know little.

In this article we will see exactly what the fear of being ridiculous is and what its negative effects can be. to people’s lives.

    What is the fear of being ridiculous?

    In short, the fear of being ridiculed is the emotional response to the prospect of portraying so badly in front of others, which can even be ridiculous.

    In itself, fear of being ridiculous doesn’t always have to be a problem; in some cases, it is simply a matter of avoiding engaging in activities which are not dominant and which may lead to an unfavorable image of oneself in front of others; in such cases, the fear of ridicule can be seen as a mechanism for protecting the public image of a person, taking into account certain conventionalisms, aesthetic codes, etc.

    However, when the fear of being ridiculed escalates a lot, it almost always becomes a problem.

    When fear of ridicule is a recurring psychological element in a person’s behavior, this usually goes hand in hand with a personality type that tends towards shyness. And it is that shyness is, precisely the predisposition to be afraid of going out of the canons of “normal” in front of people only as soon as it is known, since its approval is sought with great insistence.

    But when this fear of ridicule becomes so extreme, in frequency of occurrence and in intensity, that it governs a person’s social behavior, it can become a real anxiety disorder: social phobia.

    People who develop this psychopathology actively take steps to avoid interacting with people they don’t know and socially isolate themselves from exposure to rejection from others (assuming rejection occurs).

      Possible problems caused by fear of being ridiculous

      The fear of being ridiculous is more than an entirely subjective experience; it also has an objective component, embodied in the actions of the person, which can significantly erode our quality of life.

      Here is a summary of the most common problems that can arise in the daily life of those who experience this type of fear very intensely.

      1. Loss of opportunities in social life

      The fear of being ridiculous does not that the task of making friends or even meeting potential romantic or sexual partners becomes very complicated, if not impossible. This leads many people to feel very frustrated with social life.

      2. Opportunity cost of wanting to “adapt”

      Another negative consequence of the fear of being ridiculous is that people who are very shy or even have a social phobia can end up spending a lot of time and resources trying to “fit in” by going through theoretical learnings.

      which means they are obsessed with knowing all the conventionalism to which they must adapt, to know in advance anything that could lead them to be ridiculed.

        3. Serious communication problems in front of an audience

        In contexts such as university or certain professions, it is necessary to make oral presentations in front of a more or less large audience., and this kind of experience comes to terrorize those who are most sensitive to the fear of ridicule.

        This is why this psychological phenomenon can considerably limit the prospects for educational or professional improvement.

        4. Avoiding social interactions is limiting

        When the fear of being ridiculous is intense enough that it causes the person to try to avoid social interactions that they know might be happening, this causes the appearance of other parallel problems.

        For example, lengthening the way back too much to avoid passing a group meeting point, avoiding going to family dinners and exposing yourself to conflicts, etc.

          5. It causes many people not to want to undergo therapy.

          Unfortunately, the fear of being ridiculed leads many people to avoid seeking the psychotherapeutic help they need because they do not want to show their vulnerabilities in front of a professional psychologist.

          The idea that the problems that one suffers from oneself will give a too unhappy or unworthy image makes that one also seeks to mask this discomfort and the problems which are associated with it, assuming they are “nonsense” or the result of some kind of “weakness”. “. This phenomenon has to do with the stigma that for decades has been implicated by those in need of mental health support..

          What to do when faced with this kind of fear?

          The most effective way to deal with this type of problem is with psychotherapy. When consulting the psychologist, it is possible to address both the root of the problem installed in what the person has learned with fear of being ridiculous, such as the contextual aspects of daily life that keep them active.

          The main objective is to make sure that the person improves both their self-esteem and their self-efficacy in terms of social relations, so that they do not feel like they have to ‘overcompensate’ everything that they want. ‘she faces others by putting a lot of effort into being accepted and having control over everything he says and does. In this way, it will be possible to focus more on the spontaneity of what is happening at each moment, instead of making conscious decisions on each of the details of how to speak, make gestures, etc.

          Bibliographical references

          • Bravo, MA and Padrós, F., (2013) Explanatory models of social phobia: a cognitive-behavioral approach. Uaricha, 11 (24), 134-147.
          • Hermans, D. Vantseenwegen, D. and Craske, MG (2008). Fears and phobias: from basic processes to clinical implications (pp. 257-264). Mexico: Modern Manual.
          • Seligman ME, Walker EF, Rosenhan DL. Abnormal Psychology (2002). New York: WW Norton & Company.

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