In the previous article, I discussed the “why” of self conscious behavior, plus the characteristics of it. As previously mentioned, this is a very common problem among people of all ages. While this blog is not a substitute for professional help, the following pieces of advice are my personal methods and ideas for pushing the tide against your self conscious issues.
1. Spend less time at the mirror.
Self consciousness tends to express itself as anxiety about your personal flaws. Sometimes this manifests by spending an abnormal amount of time in front of the mirror. The more you try to look perfect, the more likely you’ll be self conscious when you step out the door. This also includes looking at yourself and sizing up your appearance excessively when you’re in public (noticing reflections, going into the bathroom to keep your flaws in check, etc.)
Alternatively, you must place yourself into the habit of taking one good look at yourself, and spending the rest of the day not thinking about your own appearance or judging yourself.
2. Replace physical flaws with mental strengths.
Although our culture seems very looks-based, the truth is that looks take second place to the charisma of your personality. While a specific feature about yourself that you’re self conscious about may not be curable, your personality can always be tweaked.
Learning and practicing humor, and becoming more sociable, will prove to yourself that your physical flaws were never actually holding you back from a more vibrant social life and friends. Shift your attention from worrying about your appearance to focusing on refining your social skills.
You’ll discover that when you ignore your appearance, and focus on your personality, other people will follow in your foot-steps, and they will not pay attention to how you look, nor will they care.
In fact, you’ll discover that most people are so worried about their own appearances that they don’t the have time to really think about yours.
3. Try to stay in the moment.
This piece of advice is really a huge concept wrapped into a tiny phrase, but in life you must learn to silence the monkey-chatter inside your head.
We get into the habit of thinking excessively. But, not all thoughts are good, and most likely a source of your self-conscious thoughts is a mind that continues to barrage itself with “what-if” scenarios.
The technique is extremely simple, but not always easy. Sit down, close your eyes, clear your mind, and try to take this clarity with you as you interact among people. You have to silence the monkey-chatter, even when it desperately wants to start rambling on about what other people think of you.
This is also critical in learning to accept yourself for who you are. The only real way to begin self-acceptance is to end the critical, inner voice. You may not yet be able to banish the gremlin behind the voice, but you can control it and silence it. There is nothing truly standing between you and a peaceful, loving, and forgiving relationship with yourself except whatever your own negative thoughts might be.
4. Confront your fears and act completely ‘outside the box’.
Draw attention to yourself from large crowds. Go on to a dance floor and really make a show for yourself. Go do public speaking by developing a seminar or presentation and advertising it on a Meetup group online. Go stage a protest by dressing in some ridiculous costume.
If you really want to banish your self consciousness, this is something you have to do. Act completely ridiculous if you must.
This may be a little stormy at first, and it will require a good deal of courage to get started, but attention-grabbing behavior is necessary for your diet. When you are exposed to lots of people, you will have to deal with a whole myriad of different reactions.
You’ll discover that, although it depends on what you’re doing, most reactions will be positive, and criticism is usually directed at the context of your behavior versus you as an individual, if there is any criticism at all.
However, if you stay in the public spotlight long enough, you will eventually come face-to-face with your fears, and you’ll experience some creep yelling that you’re ugly, or fat, or too short, or whatever your fear is.
This is good. You want this to happen. You really have to get exposed to a couple of personal insults, and discover that when somebody insults you or makes fun of you, all they’re doing is making themselves appear as immature, cruel, or unlikable. They won’t win anything from it, and it’s usually those who are extremely insecure themselves that resort to attacking a person for their incurable flaws. You will walk away stronger from it.
These bullies discovered at an early age that there are techniques to exploit peoples’ vulnerabilities. Virtually anyone can be a target of their destructive behavior, as everybody has weaknesses. In life, it’s extremely important to have the upper-hand against these people, and the mental fortitude to block them out. By paying them no attention, it delivers a counter-blow to their egos. They absolutely hate it.
5. Address non-physical insecurity with careful self evaluation.
Go to a therapist if you must, but it’s time that you figure out exactly what makes you feel inadequate. The psychological ramifications of your self conscious behavior are probably the underlying factor which is only feeding into your insecurity about your physical flaws, which may be a secondary issue.
It’s much harder to track down the specific mental rat-nests that attribute to your issues, but through adopting the above four behavioral changes you will at least have a chance to begin experiencing life without excessive fear about your looks. As you begin to enjoy life with less self-awareness about how your appearance, the real devil behind your self-conscious feelings may slowly crawl to the surface.
Most likely, it relates to your childhood, or an accumulation of past experiences which have mentally trained you to fear new experiences or react with anxiety to specific social situations. Again, this is for the realm of a psychiatrist to explore. But your understanding of the problems you face will make the process of renewing your confidence that much easier.