Steps To Overcome Self-Consciousness
Updated May 09, 2019
Reviewer Wendy Boring-Bray, DBH, LPC
You know that feeling when you walk into a crowded room and your palms are sweaty and your mouth is dry because you can feel all eyes on you, silently judging you? If you know what I'm talking about you have experienced a moment of feeling self-conscious. It can be a horrifying feeling that holds up back from reaching our true potential. Self-consciousness should not be taken lightly.
Definition Of Self-Consciousness
The dictionary definition of self-consciousness is "conscious of one's own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself" and "intensely aware of oneself". The keyword in this is "intensely". When you are self-conscious you are constantly thinking about how you appear to others and what they think of you.
What Happens When We Are Self-Conscious
There are some extremely negative consequences that we experience when we live self-consciously. Here are some of what you could experience:
You miss out on doing things you would like to try. When you are overly concerned about how others perceive you there is a good chance that you are going to skip out on doing new things. You will not put yourself into situations where you aren't sure that you will be successful because you don't want others to judge you.
Reactions tend to be overly emotional. When we are overly self-conscious we tend to get offended easily. It causes us to think that everything is about us in one sense or another. We internalize the things that are happening around us. This can cause us to respond emotionally because we are trying to defend ourselves.
Lowers Self-Confidence. When we are overly concerned about how we are perceived and what others think of us it steals our self-confidence. It causes us to feel like we don't measure up to those around us or the expectations that are set for us.
These are just a few of the results that we experience when we live self-consciously. However, even if you have struggled with being self-conscious in the past it doesn't mean that you must continue to. You can overcome self-consciousness.
How To Overcome Self-Consciousness
If you want to overcome your struggles with self-consciousness you need to be intentional in your actions. Here are some things that will help you overcome it.
Realize People Don't Care As Much As We Think They Do
If you are self-conscious you most likely think that people are always paying attention to you. You probably feel that you are constantly being judged by others and that they are always noticing what you are doing. People do not care about you or what you are doing as much as you think they do. In fact, many times people are not even paying attention.
Some researchers have called this feeling the "spotlight effect". You constantly feel that the spotlight is on you and that every little action you take is being highlighted. You worry so much about what others will think, believe, or say that you stop yourself from stepping out and trying things. Most likely you go out of your way to avoid being in the spotlight, so you will not embarrass yourself. However, this is a quick way to lose your joy and zest for life. Instead, focus on dimming the spotlight.
Realize that most people are so caught up in what they are doing that they don't have the time to notice what you are doing. Remind yourself of this fact when you are starting to struggle with feeling self-conscious.
Reduce The Amount Of Time That You Spend With Negative People
Pessimistic people are like poison in your life. They will point out every negative thing about other people and situations. It is exhausting to spend a lot of time with people like this. They tend to tear down everyone and if you are trying to overcome self-consciousness you don't need their negative energy. Even if the person does not seem overly negative to you or make comments about you the negative attitude that they carry will drag you down emotionally.
Instead, choose to spend time with people that build you and others up. Then, return the favor and do the same for them. Positive people are good to be around because they help you learn to spot the positive things. They do not focus on the negative aspects of each situation and you can learn to do the same.
Stop Thinking Bad Things About Yourself
Other people's negative comments about you will not mean as much if you do not buy into them. However, if someone insults you on something that you have already been thinking it will cause you to feel self-conscious. This happens because you are agreeing with the message that they are giving you. For example, if you are 6 foot tall and someone tells you that you are short it will not offend you. Why? Because you know that the statement is not true. However, if you have been worried lately that you are starting to lose your hair and someone else makes the same statement to you, it can make you feel self-conscious. Why? Because you have already agreed with the statement by thinking it yourself.
But, we need to take it one step further. Losing your hair isn't a bad thing and neither is being short. Self-consciousness comes in when you think that it is negative. If you think that being short is a strength than it won't insult you when someone says that you are short. In order to change this, you need to do two things.
- Realize that many of the things that we think are "good" or "bad" aren't either. Many things just simply are. Your physical characteristics do not make you good or bad. They just simply are. Some you can do things about, like your weight or the color of your hair. Others you cannot change, such as your height.
- Stop agreeing with negative statements. If you choose to think positively about yourself then even if someone says something negative about you it will not hold the same kind of power over you.
Accept Yourself So Others Can As Well
This goes along with not agreeing with negative thoughts. If you do not accept yourself than it doesn't matter what anyone else says or does. If you truly learn to accept yourself, including your flaws and imperfections, you will not struggle with self-consciousness. But, if you don't accept yourself than even if others try to build you up and compliment you in areas you will not accept it. No one else can truly make you feel better about yourself. You have to do that on your own by changing your thinking.
Stop Putting Others On A Pedestal
We have a tendency to put other people on pedestals. We see other people on TV or social media and it looks like they have their life together. They seem to succeed at everything that they are doing and have every hair perfectly in place. However, no one is perfect. The media, including social media, is a controlled environment. Most people don't share their lowest moments that are full of failure on Facebook. Instead, they show all of the good things that are happening in their life. Most people take multiple selfies before they have the perfect one that they decide to post. If you were able to see all the others you would start to realize that they are just normal people like you.
The more you build other people up the more you end up knocking yourself down. Remind yourself that no one is perfect. There is not one person that succeeds at everything that they try. The most successful people in life have failed many times on their path to success, but you don't see that because it's not what they want you to see.
Act-On What Makes You Nervous
Do not let your self-consciousness hold you back from experiencing life. Do the opposite. When you feel self-conscious about something grab the bull by the horns and do that exact thing. If you allow your feelings and fears to constantly stop you, you will never be able to overcome them. Instead, choose the thing that makes you feel nervous and awkward and give it a try. Have fun and get out of your comfort zone. It might feel horrible at first. But, it will begin to get a little easier each time that you do.
Talk To A Therapist
Sometimes we have a difficult time getting out of our own heads. If you are struggling with feeling inadequate and self-conscious you don't need to fight it alone. Find a trained therapist to talk to about your struggles. They can help you pinpoint where your struggles are coming from and take the necessary steps that you need to in order to overcome it.
Life is short and passes quickly. Do not let self-consciousness steal your joy and stop you from living up to your full potential. Put these steps above into practice and find an online therapist that can guide you along the way. Before you know it you will be living a life that you love and won't be so worried about what others think about it.