Imagine that you’re on stage: everyone is looking at you, you’re the center of attention, and the audience is monitoring your every move. That’s what self-consciousness feels like.
Self-consciousness keeps us fighting the battle to control our self-image. We’ve all tried to imagine what other people think of us: whether it was something good or bad, it’s part of human nature to care about being accepted and part of a tribe. The problem begins when you give other people’s opinions of you too much power and become self-conscious as a result.
What Causes Self-Consciousness?
The short answer: your ego.
The long one: according to book author Cynthia Athina Kemp Scherer, ‘When you feel self-conscious, your ego is actively involved. The ego is responsible for reality testing. Part of its function is to create a sense of personal identity. In this process, the ego is constantly poised to test your relationship to those around you, so it is constantly weighing and assessing the people around you. Sometimes self-consciousness is born from a desire to please others so that you fit in with them. Or, there may be an urge to meet their expectations so that you are more acceptable to them.’
There’s a big difference between being self-aware and self-conscious: self-awareness is all about viewing yourself and your surroundings objectively in the present moment, while self-consciousness is a preoccupation with oneself.
Here’s what I’ve learned from my practice so far on how to stop being self-conscious and become more self-aware instead:
1. Stop Objectifying Yourself
If you put yourself out there to seek validation, other people’s approval, or you want to feel like you belong somewhere, you’re in big trouble. By objectifying yourself, you’re essentially showing yourself that you can’t be trusted and that other people’s opinions of you matter more than your opinion of yourself.
You are not the likes you get on Instagram. You are not the compliments or rude comments that strangers write on the Internet. You are also not the promotion your boss gave you or that praise you got from your mom.
Remember: you are valuable no matter what other people think of you. You are beautiful in your own way.
Don't let other people determine your value. You're not an object. Click To Tweet
2. Raise Your Consciousness
Instead of being more self-conscious, aim for being conscious: unbiasedly aware of what’s happening around you. I’ll make a separate video in the upcoming weeks on how to master your inner critic and raise your consciousness, so make sure to subscribe to my youtube channel if you don’t want to miss it.
For starters, become aware of the negative self-talk you participate in on a daily basis. What mean things do you say to yourself? Do you wish you could be skinnier, prettier, more successful? Do you compare yourself with others way too often? Take a step back and reflect on your negative thought patterns.
If you often feel inadequate in a social situation, it’s highly likely that the actual problem is the way you perceive your surroundings. Pay attention to whatever thoughts are going through your head and the feelings you experience as a result of them.
3. Get Rid of Shame and Embarrassment
Feeling self-conscious means living in a world where every situation becomes a potential threat to our survival, and we experience fear of rejection, shame, and embarrassment. If we engage in low-risk social situations and experience positive interactions, it’s easier to become less self-conscious and combat the feeling of awkwardness.
As I’ve previously shared in a blog post, ‘Shame is that painful and self-loathing feeling that you’re just not good enough, that you are a bad person, or that you need to become someone else to succeed. You are constantly searching for evidence to prove to yourself that you’re not enough. ‘
The truth? You are enough as you are. You don’t need to do anything to prove your worth to others. Please, don’t be mean to yourself. Accept yourself as you are and don’t try to hide your imperfections, embrace them instead.
4. Take Responsibility for Your Actions
One of the reasons we get self-conscious is because we try to escape the ugly truth: our actions have consequences. Instead of beating yourself up the next time you’re late for a meeting, accept the situation for what it is: you’re late, you’re the reason you’re late, and there’s no point in overthinking it.
The good news is: if you want to change the outcome, you can always choose a different approach next time you have a similar situation on your hands. You are responsible for your own happiness, shortcomings, and the amount of drama you invite into your life. Know yourself well enough to make decisions that align with your core values: they will always give you the best results.
Once you get into the habit of taking responsibility for everything that happens in your life and decide to stop playing the comfortable role of a victim, you’ll see significant improvement in your relationships with others and, most importantly, your relationship with yourself.
5. Serve Others by Finding Your Mission
You can’t be self-conscious and help others at the same time, it just doesn’t work that way. When you’re passionate about something, and you want to serve others, your need for self-importance will disappear.
I wake up every morning and I ask myself one simple question: ‘What will I do today to help as many people as I can?’ It quickly centers me and gets rid of all the ‘social media approval’ noise that pops into my head from time to time.
Focus on your mission. Let it be the fuel for every decision you make in your life. Make it your number one priority and you’ll experience much more clarity. If you don’t know what you’re mission is, don’t worry. It took me many years to find mine and the good news is, you don’t have to do it all on your own.
At the and of the day, it doesn’t matter what your vanity numbers are, what matters is how many lives you’ve changed.