Have you ever been put on the spot, in a room where everyone is looking you, waiting to hear what you have to say? All the sudden, a sensation of nervousness starts taking over your body, you start shaking, blushing, and words just won’t come out of your mouth. You start thinking: “I don’t want to sound stupid. I don’t want people to judge me. I think people don’t like me” – Stop it! you are being self-conscious.
A self-conscious person is constantly overwhelmed with judgmental thoughts about themselves. “I” this, “I” that, you think everything is wrong about you, it’s not. This is not to be confused with selfishness. On the contrary, you are concerned about what people think of you, how they see you, and this is bad because it increases your shyness and fear of embarrassment. We become less confident and more conforming with things that won’t demand attention to ourselves.
The key to avoiding this chain of thoughts that causes you to freeze – sometimes worse, is in becoming more self-aware. Self-awareness is when a person knows his or her emotions, reactions, strengths, and weaknesses. Having self-awareness allows you to know exactly where your thoughts will take you and what causes them to react the way they do. This helps us redirect our attention to actions during situations we can’t control. For example, a self-conscious person would think the following: “Meeting new people makes me nervous and I start mumbling, I shouldn’t go out.” Whereas a self-aware person would think “meeting new people makes me nervous and I start mumbling, I should smile more and let them start the conversation until I feel comfortable enough to talk.” The difference relies on knowing how your thoughts work and addressing the issue from a different perspective.
We all could use a little self-awareness training to improve our thoughts and behavior during difficult moments. Here are some tips from experts summarized just for you:
Take a minute
According to Coach Corina Pall from the International Coach Academy, these are the following exercises that can help you control stressful situations that come with being self-conscious; Control your breathing, relax your muscles, and relax mentally. Apply them to embarrassing moments and whenever you have to do public speaking, you’ll notice a huge difference.
Write it down
A good advice that can help you recognizing your self-conscious behavior, is feeling it and making a list. By sitting down and writing all the things that trigger your uncontrollable flaws, you’ll execute a plan for next time and this will prepare you to address the situation. knowing what provokes your insecurities, reactions, or unwanted sensations, is a good start towards becoming self-aware.
Take an art class
Dancers, actors, and other artists, practice good self-awareness because they concentrate their thoughts on how and where their body parts would move. Actors, for examples, are constantly aware of how they express their emotions and exercises like adapting, controlling, and posing with the body, is a task they they dominate.
Take Small Risks
If you are a very shy person, this step would probably be more difficult for you to execute. Just remember that you don’t have to do anything extreme. To take a small risk involves doing things like raising your hand in class to add an opinion, starting a conversation with that person you like, engaging in activities you usually don’t participate on but are passionate about, i. e., sports and art.
Ask for opinions about yourself
To me this is a very hard task, specially because taking criticism is not easy. But doing it little by little helps you build confidence and next time someone puts you on the spot you’ll be used to receiving feedback without feeling like you need to escape the room.
Last but not least, I believe we sometimes fall under the tendency of judging ourselves too much. We criticize our personality and body based on what we think others would think of us. This practice triggers our self-consciousness to come out. I believe learning to accept ourselves and taking the time to try new experiences is very helpful. So be confident, proud of yourself, and take more risks.
Images by @brandonwoelfel