Becoming Less Self-Conscious
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Below are a few frequently asked questions about self-consciousness.
What does being self-conscious mean?
According to the Meriam-Webster definition, self-consciousness refers to being "conscious of one's own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself—awareness of oneself as an individual."
Does self-conscious mean insecure?
Insecurity may come from feeling your needs are being threatened. In contrast, self-consciousness may involve being aware of how others perceive you, your flaws, and your mistakes to the point where you might overanalyze and cause distress and insecurity.
Why do people get self-conscious?
Self-consciousness can come from self-awareness. One is first aware of one's identity as an independent and conscious person, subject to various feelings. This awareness can transform into self-consciousness when individuals dwell intensely on perceived flaws or infractions against the social order.
One theory from evolutionary psychology is that self-consciousness has an evolutionary purpose by helping people function better within groups, obey rules, and get along with others. It also may help people accomplish complex actions like controlling behavior.
- Previous Article
- Next Article