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How To Handle Nosy People & Difficult Questions

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

What's covered: Why you've got a *neon sign* above your head if personal questions make you feel uncomfortable; PLUS, 3 self-awareness steps for dealing with difficult questions you don't want to answer

Palm of hand with question mark written on it

The dreaded question that puts you on the spot: Do you have something you feel really self-conscious about?

Something that makes you want to squirm, cringe or cry?

Recently a client asked me if I had areas of my life that I dread people asking about, and I can honestly say no, not anymore.

But this wasn't always the case.

Difficult Questions I Avoided...

In many ways, I've led a very unconventional life: I didn't marry or have children when my circle of friends did, I chose unpredictable career paths and I often opted for self-development over financial security. (And the list could go on.)

I didn't do this to make a social statement, I made those choices at the time because it felt right for me, but that doesn't mean I didn't have times of feeling an immense sense of self-consciousness and vulnerability.

Social conditioning and collective expectations can be so strong; I often felt like I was "out on a limb" or swimming against the mainstream, and, at times, it was bloody hard.

When experiencing times of intense change or self-consciousness, I noticed how people would often ask me the exact question I was desperately and silently wishing they wouldn't ask.

I remember the tangible discomfort I felt in my body when this would happen: My hands would literally start trembling, my voice would weaken and I'd often go into over-explanation in a bid to disguise my awkwardness.

Introducing: The Neon Sign

It's almost like people psychically know what we're most uncomfortable about, but how is that possible?

Because - metaphorically speaking - you've got a BIG flashing NEON sign above your head saying: I have MAJOR issues with...[fill-in the blank].

For example, Stacey's been single for what seems like an interminably long time and she's at a big family gathering with lots of couples, when a distant relative sidles up to her and loudly asks in front of the group: "So, why is it a lovely person like you is still single?"

Similarly, Brian's just left his well-paid job and is taking a leap of faith on a self-created business venture with no guarantees of success or even a stable income, when he runs into an old colleague at his local café who asks: "So, what is it you're exactly doing now?"

When a particular life issue (person / place / situation) is causing you a lot of internal stress and is generating a lot of repetitive thoughts and emotions, it's as though it gets stuck in our energy field and is silently communicated to other people.

Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle talks about how our thoughts consist of the same energy as physical objects. He says, however, that thoughts vibrate at a higher frequency than physical matter, which is why they cannot be seen or touched.

Just because they can't be seen, doesn't mean they're not detectable, and whether other people are consciously aware of it or not, they can pick up on our thoughts.

How To Calmly Respond To Difficult Questions & Use Nosy People's Questions For Greater Self-Awareness

Here are 3 steps that helped me to flick the OFF switch on the flashing neon sign above my head, so I could calmy & gracefully respond to difficult questions:

1. Look In The Judgement Mirror

We often think people are judging us for who we are, for what we look like or for the choices we make; the truth is that the only outside judgement that hurts, is the inner judgement we have already made about ourselves.

In other words, if you're deeply upset because you feel like someone is judging you about your looks, for example, it's because you're judging yourself about your looks, and you're projecting onto them what you've already thought yourself.

This is what I call "The Judgement Mirror" - our internal thoughts and feelings are mirrored back to us by others.

If you are truly comfortable with yourself, then someone may still judge you, but it's as though you're a non-stick pan when it comes to external judgement.

The upshot: When you've truly acknowledged the self-judgments you have around a certain issue or choice, then outside judgments have little or no effect.

2. Ditch The Spiritual Air Freshener

I'll often have clients who are well-versed in spiritual talk or who have read a lot of self-help books.

Sometimes during a session, when they start to drop down into their real feelings or emotions around a certain issue, they'll mentally override what's coming up and give me a lot of spiritual justification or explanation.

For me, it's like spraying spiritual air freshener over a pile of crap!

It temporarily disguises the smell, but it's most definitely still there.

The upshot: Be truly honest with yourself about your feelings and emotions - rather than letting them fester in the dark unacknowledged, bring them into the light and look at them, even if they initially seem unconscious, immature or even really un-spiritual.

3. Remember: Your Life, Your Business

There are people who you naturally resonate with and who you don't mind asking you questions about your life, and you'll openly share details.

Conversely, there are people who you won't want to share with.

Just because someone asks you a question, doesn't mean you need to share your life story or explain your choices - unless you truly want to.

The upshot: Use your awareness about who you open up to, otherwise keep it as brief as possible; you don't owe anyone an explanation.

A New You

If you're feeling discomfort, confusion or really confronted in certain areas of your life, then it's likely you're in the process of a particularly intense growth phase.

And as challenging and wearying as that can be, consider the opposite to growth: no change whatsoever.

If you're here right now reading this, then you're someone who has a deep desire to become more of your true self - not less - so growth is part of the deal.

Celebrate the new you who is emerging! :-)

Keep listening to your body and trusting your wise self,

Lauren x

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