Popo, the baby elephant, is born in captivity. To make sure Popo is not going to run away, Stevie, the elephant keeper ties a rope on his left front leg.
For a few weeks, Popo, it’s trying to break free with no success; the rope is too strong for him.
One day, Popo, decide to stop trying and gives up on his dream of freedom.
Popo is a big elephant today. He is strong, powerful and sturdy. He can do many tricks that Stevie taught him.
However, there is one thing that Popo never does: he’s not trying to break free anymore even though the rope that keeps him imprisoned is the same one as it was when he was a fragile and powerless baby.
If you are overly self-conscious, most likely, someone tied an invisible rope on you as a child; and today is the day when you shall break free.
Possible causes of being too self-conscious:
Parents have the best intentions for their children; yet, good intentions manifested in negative ways don’t bring positive results.
What type of parents can cause self-esteem and self-conscious issues?
- Too involved
- Parents that are using shame, blame or critic as a disciplinary tool
- Parents that were, themselves too self-conscious
How could these types of parents cause low self-esteem and self-conscious issues?
They unwittingly might have stopped the natural development of your self-image and self-trust. Therefore, you might not know how to act and behave and need constant reassurance and approval from others. Or you might have felt forced to notice, pay attention and overthink everything that you do to make sure you are good enough for their standards or, even worse, that you are safe.
Being bullied, criticized, excluded, or forgotten by your peers, teacher, extended family members and other people can also cause you to become overly self-conscious.
Following the wrong or fake role-models can make you feel unsatisfied with the way you look, your performance and status which, in turn, cause low self-esteem, and self-conscious issues.
No matter the case might be, that was then and today is a new day. And now, it is up to you to improve the way you see yourself and be less self-conscious.
It sounds so simple but harder to do? It will get easier, I promise. Read till the end and discover how to make it straightforward and easy.
Now, let’s deal with the past.
Family and other people
Start your healing process by offering your compassion to all those people from your past that might have contributed, in a way or another, to your today’s unhappiness.
Offer them your compassion by understanding that they did what they thought is best at the time. Those people who knew what are doing (harming you), they did so because they did not know any other way to behave.
Listen, offering compassion is not the same as offering your forgiveness. Maybe some people from your past don’t deserve, yet to be forgiven. Perhaps, you want to keep your door open for an apology or at least an “I’m sorry” before forgiving and forgetting.
However, offering your compassion helps you to move forward starting from a neutral point and taking responsibility for what is coming into your life from now on.
Start being the cause of what is happening in your life and stop being the effect of others behavior. Succeed in life in spite of what other have done to you, intentionally or not. Remember that the best revenge is being successful and happy.
If changing your life starting today seems to you hard and painful work, allow me to tell you what will bring you all that effort. Overcome being too self-conscious helps you to:
- Set and achieve your goals
- Improves your social interactions
- Diminished negative feeling towards self and others
- Boost your social status
- Make peace with your past
- Create new and beautiful memories
- Get the courage to dream big
- Collaborate in a mutually beneficial way with other people
- Build new meaningful and long-lasting relationships
How to be less self-conscious
1. Have compassion for yourself
Self-compassion is a kind act that gives you the perfect starting point for your self-empowerment.
It gives you an honest and truthful insight on who you are without self-blame or judgment.
Yes, you’ve been hurt. Yes, you’ve been treated unfairly. And yes! You deserve better! And whether you might have done in the past it was the best you know how. Today is a new day, a new opportunity to start over.
2. Start doubting
If you doubt yourself, your abilities and being a good person, it means that you are a master at doubting. Therefore, you have a skill that, from now on, you can use it to make your life better, happier and feel accomplished.
Make a list with all those things that you believe not to be and want to be and those things that you think your are but don’t want to be. Make your list and start doubting point by point.
Start doubting that you are not good, pretty, loving, desirable enough and whatever else you are bullying or beating yourself about.
Start doubting! Find the reasons and the evidence to prove yourself wrong.
- How do I know I’m not [good enough]?”
- “Who told me so and why do I believe them?”
- “If that was truth in the past, is it still truth today?”
- “What/who make me feel this way [not being good enough]?”
Add your own set of questions and start doubting! You are much more than what you might think.
How do I know that? I know that because, if you are too self-conscious, most likely you play down your merits and playing up your minute flaws. Are you not?
Did you know that if you are too self-conscious, you are, in fact, lying to yourself? Plus, you are setting bars so high for yourself that would be almost impossible for any human to reach them?
If you tend to take self-evaluation as a new opportunity to bully and talk yourself down: Stop it!
Quite down the negative thoughts and voices in your mind and raise the volume for the positive ones.
Start your self-evaluation and banish from your mind those people that are living in there, rent free, for far too long already.
When you’re telling yourself that you are not [good enough] most likely it is not your voice. Is it? Banish that voice and replace it with yours; your voice, your truth, the real story, the real you.
Evaluate yourself from two perspectives:
- First: what are your abilities, merits, achievements, positive physical and character traits, talents and what is unique about you.
- Second: what are the things that you don’t like about yourself and how can you change that (either to improve if you can, either to be less bothered by them if you cannot).
Be honest and truthful in your evaluation because otherwise, you are fighting the windmills (Cervantes, Don Quixote de la Mancha).
For example, if you are pretty but refuse to acknowledge that and tell yourself that you are not, how can you fix an imaginary problem? How can you repair something that is not broken? How can you improve something that is not there in the first place or you don’t even need or desire to have?
I’m saying that because if you are too self-conscious, you might tend to exaggerate the negative things and ignore, or deny the positive fact about yourself. Are you not?
Be honest and truthful. Acknowledge and recognize the positive facts about yourself. Don’t play them down and don’t attribute your successes and accomplishments to others or to chance and fortune. Take the credit and merit for the good things you’ve done and what is positive about you.
Even when luck is involved in some of your successes, without you there, no amount of luck would have done that by itself.
Yes, some of the negative things you believe about yourself are true; you see? no one is perfect. However, emphasizing those things will bring you more negative things and not positive ones.
Change what you can and leave those which you cannot in the “not yet” box and remind yourself that no one is perfect. Not as an excuse, but as a matter of fact!
4. Be open with those who love you
Allow those people who love you to paint your portraits as they see you. See yourself through their eyes. Talk with them about your self-doubts and the things that you don’t like about yourself.
Enrich your perspective with theirs. Whatever you’re dealing with, shouldn’t become a shameful secret but a way to connect and relate to your loved ones.
You might even discover that you are not the only one feeling self-conscious and overwhelmed. What a better way to improve your life other than sharing your feelings with those who love you and have/had similar issues?
5. People don’t care about your flaws as much as you might believe
Do you have time to observe and notice what others are doing when you are busy thinking about yourself?
As you don’t have the time, most people around you, don’t either.
People are self-absorbed and self-centred. Most of them care about how they look, how their behaviors are seen and interpreted by others and very little, to not at all, about yours.
Those who do care about your flaws or shortcomings, care because they feel worse than you do, dealing with their own issues, flaws, and weaknesses. What you’re dealing with is familiar, and that is why they can recognize it.
Therefore, care less about what people think of you and start enjoying life! It is your most precious gift. Honor it by being happy and proud to be who you are.
Plus, those around you like the fact that you are not perfect, that you are like them, imperfect. Why? Because your imperfections leave them a place in your life. You need them, and they need you. And that is the only perfect thing about the humankind: we need each other. “You need my skills and I need yours!”
6. Change your mindset on positive!
Being self-conscious can create an unpleasant environment in your mind. Your thoughts tend to be mostly negative toward self and overly glorious about others. Is it not?
Stop obsessing about factual or imaginary flaws you might have. Start noticing and paying attentions, mostly to your accomplishments, dreams, passions, positive character traits, and talents.
If you don’t see right now how many admirable things there are about you, then it is possible that you are in “the loop”.
The never ending loop of negative thinking; playing over and over and over again the same movie: the movie of how you haven’t been your best in some situation or an unimportant gesture you made, or a word you’ve said and so on.
Get out of the loop. As the film industry doesn’t get stuck on one bad movie and moves on to produce new and exciting ones, do the same.
Everyone has failures; everybody knows to do something very well and other things… not so well. Get out of the loop and create new movies, new memories. Life is an adventure of discovery and learning.
Step out of the loop and get excited! Remind yourself of the things that you want to accomplish in life. There are so many things that you want to do. Right? Use your energy and time to think about those things and find ways to get there.
People, in general, hate to lose more than enjoying the gain. Those who criticize you see your flaws in detail because they perceive those as a loss, their personal loss. It has little to do with you, your behaviors and actions; it has more to do with their inability to accept the fact nothing is perfect and don’t know how to deal with their feelings of loss.
Plus, most of those who are criticizing you are doing it because they don’t feel good about who they are and search for a way to lift themselves up.
There are moments when criticism can be valid and constructive. However, don’t take on or believe things that don’t help you grow, don’t empower you to do better next time. What would be the point in criticizing someone if there is no solution or ways of improvement, other than being mean?
If you are criticized for unimportant things, things that you cannot change or do something about it, apply the simple policy: “Can you do it better? Do it, then! Show me how it should be done!”
Pay attention! Feedback is not the same with criticism. Feedback is a tool to move forward, to improve and learn.
8. Build a personal support system
Have a safe place to fall.
Gather around yourself people that like, appreciate, love and respect you. People that like you as you are. People that need and want your talents and skills.
9. Stop blaming and judging yourself
Blaming and judging yourself are the shortest way to get stuck because they are not ways to solve a situation or problem. They are not means to move forward; they are ends (are the end of a road that goes nowhere).
Free yourself from blaming and judging how you are, what you do and how you are doing things.
Instead, get curious about:
- How can you do it better next time?
- What was missing for you to do it right?
- What should you continue doing, do more of?
- What should you stop/change doing?
- What stopped you to get the result you wanted?
- Is it worth wanting what you want?
- Can (really) improve your life the outcome you desire?
10. Follow your purpose
Being too self-conscious stops you to get what you want because you lose the sight of your goal and seek to achieve less important things.
If we take as an example being overly self-conscious about some of your physical traits, unless being beautiful is a necessity for your career, it is a waste of time and energy.
Or, if your goal is to have more good friends, don’t bother with those people that don’t accept and like you as you are. Those who don’t like and accept you as you are, don’t want you no matter what you do and how you change; with some individuals, you simply don’t click. Apples are excellent, oranges as well; however, an apple lover will not become an orange fan or the other way around.
What we want and like is subjective. Therefore, the chance to just start liking something after some improvements is close to zero.
That is not to say that your situation is hopeless. There are plenty of people that WANT you exactly as you are and they deserve your love, time and energy. And, if we are talking about things (not people), for each thing that you can’t have there are another ten that you do.
Rearrange the list of your priorities and follow your purpose.
Remember that whatever you lack in, you are compensating for it with something else. Plus, no matter what life denies you is compensated with other gifts. Just be open to receive and embarrassed those gifts.
It is not a matter of deserving or entitlement; it is a question of compatibility, chemistry, subjectivity, timing and place.
When you want something, always ask yourself:
- “What is it for?”
- “How can [that] serve me?”
- “Does improve my life the [thing] I want?”
- “Am I obsessing about something unimportant and neglecting what I, really want/need?”
Even when it happens to be self-conscious when you are at home, alone, for example, that episode has a trigger. Maybe you remember someone, a gesture, unkind words or past events.
For you to be and feel oppressed there is no need for somebody else to do it. It is enough if you are there; and you are there, with yourself all the time.
Maybe you are wondering: “Why am I so self-conscious?” and get angry with yourself.
Being self-conscious is a reaction to someone or something that has happened to you. It is not your fault. However, it is your prerogative to change your reaction into an action.
Find who or what are your triggers and say NO! No more!
Every neuron that you have in your brain is specialized in something.
Because, presumably, you are too self-conscious for quite some time now, you have neurons specialized in that.
However, the good news is that the less you are using those neurons, the more they will specialize in something else, something productive and beneficial to you.
Find out your triggers and shout “No! No more!” Take a commitment to yourself to change what you pay attentions to, what you notice, to what are you giving importance and meaning. Allow your brain to rewire itself by making an effort to change the way you talk, see, treat, and feel about yourself.
At the beginning that is an effort; however, in time it gets easier and easier because the “self-conscious” neurons will specialize in something else or die and make room for other neurons dedicated to your new way of being.
That is the plasticity of your brain. The more you do something, the better you get at it, and the less your mind is occupied with something, the less you will think about it, effortless.
Find who or what are your triggers and say NO! No more!
12. Use your body and lift up your mood
Your body posture is influencing your thoughts and attitude, how confident you feel and how others treat you.
Stand up tall! Adopt open body postures and occupy your personal space (as far as you can reach around yourself with your arms).
13. Prepare your new response
Many people will tell you to avoid feeling self-conscious; I will tell you to reframe. Whatever is that you are reproaching yourself, place in a different frame.
- “This forest is full of brushwood… what a luck for those wanting to start a fire!”
- “I am a short person…I fit into any house.”
- “The lady next door is watching my every move…wow! I have a free surveillance system!”
Listen, whatever you don’t like about yourself or those things about which you are too self-conscious can serve a positive purpose. Find that purpose and limit your views and feeling to it.