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The Voices in our Heads Part One: FOPO

The fear of other people's opinions aka FOPO.

I first heard this term on Dr. Michael Gervais' podcast, Finding Mastery.

It's a simple idea that sometimes has high leverage over our behaviour.

In this post, I'd like to explore one element of FOPO:

How loud it is.

A voice in our heads

First things first, FOPO is a voice in our heads. We have to agree on this truth or else the logic underlying the rest of this post will certainly crumble.

Since FOPO is a voice, then like other voices, it can be loud or quiet at certain times.

To illustrate this, it's helpful to try and think of two situations.

The first, is a time in your life when you made a decision and you were not hindered by FOPO or if you were, that hinderance was barely noticeable.

I'm not talking about a small, inconsequential decision. Ideally, think of a fairly meaningful decision.

The second, is the opposite of the first. A time in your life when you struggled to make a decision because of FOPO.

In the first situation, we can say that the volume of FOPO—as a voice in your head—was quiet.

In the second, the volume was loud.

Enter confidence

Now that we have two scenarios to play with, we can ask an interesting follow-up question.

When the voice of FOPO is loud, what is quiet?

And its inverse, when the voice of FOPO is quiet, what is loud?

Through a conversation I was having with someone the other day, we realized together that the answer here is confidence.

To illustrate this, please accept my highly sophisticated diagram below:

Image that illustrates how when confidence is loud, FOPO is quiet, and vice versa.

When the voice of confidence in your head is loud, FOPO simply runs out of room.

The inverse is also true.


FOPO is something we all struggle with.

The next time you hear this voice in your head and it's particularly loud, let it serve as an indication of your own level of confidence.

What might you need to do to increase your own confidence?

Answer this and the volume of FOPO will naturally take care of itself.

This is the first in a two-part series of posts where I want to explore the voices inside our heads. Next week, the Imposter and the Critic.

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