It’s no fun to be self-conscious. You second-guess yourself, wonder what other people are thinking, worry that you might mess up – your mind is constantly being filled with distracting thoughts that many of us don’t even realize that we are being self-conscious. And if we do have this realization, we may not be sure what to do about it. The first step to becoming aware is to understand the root of the problem.
What does it mean to be self-conscious?
According to one of Merriam Webster’s definitions, self-consciousness is the feeling of uncomfortable nervousness or embarrassment when in the presence of others, or when being observed; i.e. being aware of oneself as an individual.
Our self-consciousness often results from our desire to control the image other people have of us. Psychology traces our need for social approval back to our childhoods, where we sought out the validation of the big people. We can’t help it. As a social species, our need to fit in and belong is embedded in our DNA.
But it’s time to level up and gain the most important approval from anyone that you can ever get:
Embrace boldness and live your life on your own terms! Here are some things to keep in mind next time you are feeling a bit of social anxiety:
- People are considering what you are thinking about them more than they are thinking about you. That can be good news or bad news depending on your perspective. As soon as you catch yourself preoccupied with the thoughts and opinions of others, remind yourself that they’re too worried wondering if they themselves are doing things right by the book. It’s much more important to give acceptance to yourself than to get caught thinking about how people are perceiving you. Let’s say you’re being self-conscious because of your weight or lack of experience giving a speech. These aren’t things you can immediately change, but you can make a conscious change to improve these areas of your life. The act of initiation (yay, baby steps!) to improve your weight and your speaking skills will dramatically boost your confidence. These are important actions to acknowledge and present moments to resonate in. Imagine how much more of an ego boost you will get once you start seeing results!
- Give yourself a break and relax. You’re being judged less than you think.
- Failing to act or speak up results in more regret than saying or doing something embarrassing. Embarrassing incidents never seem to be as traumatic as predicted. Your ego will sting much more if you hold back; and it becomes harder and harder to forgive yourself each time that you do. By gathering the courage to speak up, you will boost your self-confidence and raise your personal identity. People fear hearing, “No,” because they fear rejection. Do not fall into this trap and forget to build your awareness to get out of it. Being too scared to hear an answer will do worse for your identity than being rejected.
Ask yourself, “So what? Who cares? Why does that matter to me?” That inner voice will keep you paralyzed if you allow it. So instead, turn the tables and ask it, “So what?” Instead of allowing yourself to react emotionally to anxiety, use a little logic and override your initial impulse to shut yourself down. What’s the worst that can go wrong? Let’s Practice:
- “If I go to the beach, everyone will see my thighs, everyone will notice what I’m wearing, everything probably thinks that I made the wrong career choice…”
- …“So what? Who cares? Why does that matter to me?”
- Avoid comparisons between yourself and others. This is an especially tough topic for us. We pride ourselves in our work and always want to improve ourselves. When we see people with the body we want, or the career success we want, or even having the fun we want to have, we get hit with a large dose of FOMO. The truth is that we actively notice the strengths of others and highlight our own weaknesses. We’re not good at noticing our own strengths. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that others don’t struggle like you do!
- Take note of your strengths and you’ll see just how great you are. If you spend your time comparing your weaknesses to someone else’s strengths, you’ll never feel good about yourself.
- It’s also extremely important to take note of the small successes in areas that you are working to improve on in your life. Giving yourself recognition for all the hard work and effort that you’ve been putting in will give you that boost of confidence you need to keep pushing forward.
- Pretend you’re confident even if you’re not. Confident people act. When you act, and nothing bad happens, you’ll begin to develop real confidence. Keep telling yourself that you’re a confident person. Our brains can be programmed to raise our self-identity through repetition. That is why self-talk is important.
- Adopt confident mannerisms and a confident posture. Speak with authority. It takes time to convince your brain that you’re a confident person, so start right away! Check out some of our other blogs on speaking with confidence and personal identity.
- Take part in activities that excite you. It’s easier to be bold when doing something that you really want to do. Learn to be bold in the easiest way possible. If you’ve always wanted to take a class, start exercising, or join an activity but have been too afraid and make silly excuses like, “I don’t have enough time,” then pursuing that desire is exactly what you should do to help boost your confidence. Doing something new is easier to overcome if you are interested in the activity rather than doing something because society/someone told you to.
- Try a new style on for size. Change up your wardrobe or hairstyle. Expand your view of yourself. Others will view you differently too. This might make it easier to do and say the things that are on your mind. When you view yourself differently, you give yourself permission to act differently.
Self-consciousness is natural, but it’s uncomfortable and potentially limiting. Take a moment and imagine what your life would be like if you were able to stop caring about the opinions of others. This is a battle that everyone must fight in order to be truly free. Ignore your social anxieties and be your true self.
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