Becoming Less Self-Conscious

Medically reviewed by Paige Henry
Updated February 21, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

A positive self-image can be a vital part of mental and emotional well-being. When you aren't confident in yourself and what you can accomplish, you may feel held back from your potential. While self-consciousness can be challenging to experience, you may manage it by reframing your self-perception and practicing self-love. Although many people struggle with self-compassion, you can build this skill over time in a few ways.

Getty/PeopleImages
Online therapy can help you foster self-love

What does it mean to be self-consciousness?

Learning how to practice self-acceptance may help you overcome self-consciousness. Self-consciousness is defined as "awareness of oneself." It is often the result of insecurity regarding abilities, appearance, personality, or other aspects of oneself that accompany the fear of being perceived negatively by others. Self-consciousness is a normal state of being that many people experience occasionally. However, when it becomes heightened, it may impact your confidence, keep you from striving for your goals, and affect your mental health.  

Evolutionary psychology theorizes that self-conscious behavior helps ancestors function better within groups, obey observed rules, and get along with others to survive. Today, being aware of behavior might help you succeed in the workplace, school, or relationships. However, self-consciousness can also have adverse effects if not managed healthily.   

The effects of excessive self-consciousness

Feeling hyperaware of oneself can prevent them from focusing on the present, putting themselves out there, and having confidence in their abilities. The following are potential "side effects" of unhealthy amounts of self-consciousness.

Missed opportunities 

When you experience excess self-awareness, you may avoid situations that make you feel uncertain about success. Avoidance could cause you to miss out on trying new activities, reaching your goals, or seizing opportunities that positively change your life. 

Difficulty staying present 

Focusing on yourself may make it challenging to bring your attention to what's happening around you. As a result, you might miss essential cues at work and school or in relationships.  

Fewer social connections 

You may feel uncomfortable connecting with others if you're unsure of yourself. Self-consciousness can make you question whether you'll make a positive impression on others and could keep you from making new friends.  

Lower self-confidence 

Your self-esteem might be depleted if you are consistently worried about what others think of you. Low self-esteem could make you feel as though you don't measure up to those around you or your expectations.

However, if you have struggled with being self-conscious in the past, that doesn't mean that you must feel the same way in the future. You can take a few approaches to focus on confidence and develop a healthy, well-managed sense of self-awareness. 

How to reduce self-consciousness to increase self-compassion

Managing self-consciousness may be possible when you are mindful of your self-perception, reducing negative self-talk, and fostering positivity. Though it may take time, consistent efforts to make the following changes could make a lasting impact.

Understand the spotlight effect 

If you experience excessive self-awareness, you may feel that people frequently pay attention to you, judge you, or notice your flaws and faults. Some researchers call this feeling the spotlight effect. Studies show that, due to this phenomenon, individuals often misjudge how much attention others pay to their behavior, appearance, or values. 

Since people are often focused on themselves, they might not be as focused on scrutinizing you as closely as you think they are. If you feel your actions are critiqued or highlighted, remember that those around you may be preoccupied with similar concerns about themselves. Knowing this might help you feel a sense of solidarity with others.  

Surround yourself with positive people

Being around people who believe in you and lift you up may help you with building self-esteem and make it easier to moderate overly self-aware behavior. Spending time with people who make negative statements or act unsupportively could make one feel more judged and uncomfortably conscious of oneself.

Try to build a healthy support system with people who value you and provide you with confidence. Then, return the favor and do the same for them. Research shows that social support can reduce stress, which may help you feel more comfortable making efforts to socialize.

It may be healthy to spend less time with those who are contributing to feelings of self-consciousness. You deserve to be surrounded by people who make you feel positive about yourself, improve your self-worth, and reduce your self-consciousness.
Getty

Try to challenge negative self-talk

Negative self-talk about your body image, worth, or how the world perceives you can make it challenging to handle stressful situations. Try to catch yourself and challenge your thoughts when you notice they are unkind. Reframing may take practice, but you may feel better about others' perceptions of you when you perceive yourself in a healthier light. 

One possible way to challenge negative self-talk is by repeating daily mantras containing sentiments of self-affirmation. For example, try repeating: "Every day, and in every way, I am getting better and better." Try repeating these words when you're feeling self-conscious. Research shows positive self-talk can enhance cognitive function, boost self-esteem, and improve athletic performance.  

Practice self-acceptance

Self-consciousness may arise from a feeling that you lack specific desirable characteristics. If you learn to accept areas you feel are flaws, you may start to feel less aware of them. However, acceptance may not mean ignoring areas for growth. Self-acceptance can help you know what goals you might benefit from setting and start to achieve them. 

One method of fostering self-acceptance is meditation. Meditation can help you quiet your mind when experiencing self-doubt or negative self-talk. To practice meditation, find a calm environment to sit or lie down. Focus on your breathing and bring your attention to your thoughts, letting them pass without judgment. This exercise may help you recognize when your self-perception and self-talk are not as constructive as they could be. 

If meditation isn’t your style, there are a variety of self-help books and other resources that can guide you toward being less self-conscious.

Avoid putting others on a pedestal

When you feel unsure of your positive traits, you might idealize others—from pop culture celebrities to a best friend or family member—and desire the positive characteristics you see in them. Social media is a controlled environment that might not showcase accurate visuals of someone's life. Seeing someone who seems self-assured and confident in their abilities or appearance may make you question whether you have the same qualities or feel the urge to unhealthily change yourself to fit those qualities. Instead of putting others above you, find three unique aspects of yourself each day you're proud of. 

Expand your comfort zone

Some people might feel caught up in routines reinforcing beliefs regarding limited abilities. When you get out of your comfort zone, you may find that you can learn many new skills and make changes. Challenging yourself every once and a while could help you feel accomplished and increase your sense of self-worth. Consider developing a new skill, learning a foreign language, or cooking a meal you've never made before. 

Getty/PeopleImages
Online therapy can help you foster self-love

Talk to a professional 

Many factors can impact whether you feel self-conscious or self-confident. For some people, mental health conditions like social anxiety disorder, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can cause symptoms that worsen negative thinking patterns or cause extreme distress surrounding self-image. In these cases, talking to a professional might be helpful. 

Research shows online therapy may improve self-confidence and address related mental health concerns. For example, in one study, researchers found that online therapy improved self-esteem and overall quality of life in participants living with depression. The study notes that online therapy can empower participants while promoting a healthy self-image. In addition, the researchers found that online therapy may reduce barriers to mental healthcare, including geographical limitations. 

Online therapy may help you improve your self-perception and develop a healthy sense of self-worth. With online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp, you can work through concerns related to self-consciousness remotely through video, voice, or in-app chat sessions. These platforms work with thousands of mental health professionals—with a range of specialties—so you may match with someone with the expertise and knowledge to address your specific areas of concern. 

Takeaway

Self-consciousness may keep individuals from taking healthy risks and embracing unique qualities and talents, and can be a contributing factor to illnesses like depression and anxiety. By knowing your value, worrying less about the opinions of others, and engaging in positive self-talk, you may improve your self-confidence. If you'd like further help reducing self-conscious thoughts and behaviors, consider contacting a licensed therapist for guidance.

You are deserving of positive self-esteem

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started