Today’s topic is self-consciousness.
First, some background on me and how that word applies to my life: As a chronic over thinker, this is embedded in my personality. I’m self-conscious about my self-consciousness. Have you read the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hour rule? I have 10,000 hours of practicing self-consciousness. I am an expert at internally overanalyzing every move, step, and decision I make. And it drains my soul.
I was having lunch with a woman one day. She is in a very high position at a huge corporation, and I would love to someday do what she does one day. It was a casual, getting to know each other/informational interview. Somehow this question came up: “So what’s on your bucket list?” I shared with her an item on my bucket list is to write a book.
She asked what I would write about. After some self-conscious thought and banter (in my head, of course) I said, “Living more freely. Because for many years I was plagued by self-conscious and negative thoughts. I’ve realized it now and I’m changing them or making them go away and I want others to do the same.’ She said, “Really, I had no idea you were self conscious, I can’t tell by looking at you.”
I stared back in shock. Really? You can’t tell that at 100 miles per second my mind has been racing back and forth between whether or not my make-up is smeared or if it’s weird the way I ate that impossible-to-eat edamame? Did she notice? Nope. She didn’t notice the way I was eating or the fact that I’m self-conscious. That led to some deep thinking….
How many times do people not notice? Even though I freak out, I get sad and embarrassed, and I get (synonyms for self-conscious: anxious, uncertain, uneasy, awkward), the person doesn’t even notice or my thoughts don’t stop the person from thinking them anyways. So, hey, I don’t want to be that anymore. Those are some shitty words. I’ve created four W.O.W moments– Words Of Wisdom to share about the ‘self-conscious syndrome’.
1. Identify the negative thought, and imagine the worst-case scenario. Ask yourself if it will matter in a week or a year or in 100 years.
Well yes, let’s imagine that you’re simply going across the room to get more coffee. All of a sudden, those thoughts are flying and your pants suddenly fall off while walking. In 2114, I highly doubt people all across the nation will be sitting around the coffee table talking about that one time your pants fell off. Put it into perspective with time… and value your own time by letting the incident go. It was so much smaller than you played it in your head.
2. Assess the lighting in the room
Self-conscious people suffer from the Spotlight Effect. All eyes on you. All judgment is in your direction. That just isn’t true, and to be honest it’s a little narcissistic. Relax. Because people are actually more concerned with their own self-conscious behaviors, or the number of likes on their most recent Instagram photo, than analyzing your every move.
3. Trust yourself
Self-conscious people second-guess. There is a definite lack of trust that the outcome is going to be good. So worry fills those spaces and then you start believing the worry itself. If you don’t believe in yourself, you allow others to do the same. First, believe in you and your decisions and that you are coming from a place of integrity and good will so that no matter the outcome you can stand up for yourself.
“I think as an actor, as a director, as a writer, as an artist, there is no formula. It’s about saying, “OK, I’m willing to take a risk and I don’t care if I lose everything, because what is all this worth if I don’t have my integrity and free spirit?” – Nicole Kidman, Esquire
4. Be patient
Good news! The antonyms for self-conscious are: calm, comfortable, confident, content. However, the change from self-consciousness to the place of confidence and freedom from what others think is possible, but also difficult and long and tedious. You have to really remind yourself every time these thoughts arise. Be patient and allow it to take time to bring you to a place where you could care less…if your pants accidentally fall off.