Feeling self-conscious is a state where you’re so aware of what you’re saying and what you’re doing, that you don’t feel free to relax and be yourself. Often self-consciousness comes with feelings of fear of others thinking negative things about you. Sometimes it goes beyond conscious thought so you may not consciously know why you are feeling self-conscious; what you’re afraid will happen; at this stage it has reached a state of just being an ingrained habit of feeling. (But all habits are reversible!) At the core of it is usually the desire to appear our best in front of others.
Why do we develop self-consciousness?
Self-consciousness is most likely a learned behaviour. When we’re little, we learn that our behaviour elicits certain responses from our parents, and because eliciting smiles, laughter and approval from our parents feels better than the alternative, we learn the desire to please our parents by adjusting our behaviour to match their desires. We use our parents as an “external guidance system” for our behaviour rather than using any internal guidance system we have.
As we grow older, this effect grows as we try to fit in with friends, please teachers, and look our best in front of every person we meet.
Letting go of wanting to please others is the key to overcoming self-consciousness
There are a few problems with monitoring our behaviour to please others:
1.) It’s impossible to please everyone
The problem with monitoring your behaviour consciously (=being self-conscious) in order to please others is that you can never please everyone, because every person has their own unique preferences that they’ve been taught are “good”.
One parent may guide their child (“child A”) to be polite and quiet, whilst another parent may encourage their child (“child B”) to always speak their mind and be confident, regardless of what the polite thing is to do. If that outspoken child went to school where his teacher liked children to be quiet and polite, “Child B” would suddenly be in for a rude awakening because his learned behaviour that pleased his parents will suddenly be a behaviour that doesn’t please his teacher, he gets criticised for it, maybe even ridiculed in front of the class, and as a result he can become self-conscious of being overly outspoken – or worse, labeled as inconsiderate, disruptive, or any other label the teacher puts on him.
Self-consciousness usually comes from us being criticised at some point or observing another person being critized for a certain behaviour, and then us (wanting to please), monitoring our behaviour to try to avoid being criticised, and thus to avoid feeling hurt.
When someone else has convinced you of their view point (eg. “expressing your personal opinion in class is disruptive”), by taking it on board, you are adding a little pebble to your load; making you a little less free than you were before. The more pebbles you add, the less and less free you feel; the more inhibited you feel, and the more resistance you pick up to being your true relaxed self.
2.) When you’re focused on pleasing others, you’re less in touch with who you really are and with your internal guidance system
We all have an internal compass, an internal guidance system, that tells us when something we do feels good or bad. When we are using other people’s rules for how to act, we are detaching ourselves from our internal compasses and becoming less in touch with who we truly are.
Why is it important to be in touch with your internal guidance? Because it is only when you are true to yourself and trust your internal guidance that you can learn to “feel” what is right or wrong according to your highest truth through the “eyes of Source”, rather than always looking outside yourself. And once you stop looking outside yourself, and align your behaviour with your authentic self, you can learn to accept yourself and live in a state where you’re much more relaxed and easy with who you are and how you behave. Once you get to this state of self-acceptance, you may find yourself letting go of feeling self-conscious.
3.) Worrying about what others think of you prevents a “state of allowing”
In Abraham Hicks terminology, a “state of allowing” is when you’re relaxed, at ease and connected to your true self. You’re “tapped in, tuned in, turned on” to your best self. And it is when you’re in this state that you can start attracting things more easily to you and allow them to manifest.
When you’re tapped in to what you think others want, you’re off the path of what YOU want, and so you’re off the path of least resistance for you. On top of that, even if you think you’re doing what someone else wants of you, we have no control over how they’ll react ever no matter how hard we try to please them. Pleasing others is “looking for love in all the wrong places”.
When you stop trying to convince others; there is a feeling of freedom right away, because it’s not your job to convince anybody of anything.
How do you overcome the habit of feeling self-conscious?
Try to be aware when you’re feeling self-conscious. Catching the feeling or behaviour in action is the first step.
The next step is to pivot that feeling when it happens by positive, soothing self-talk, to soothe yourself into relaxing and tuning into your inner guidance for how to behave.
Finally, practice. As you catch yourself and pivot into a more positive place; catch yourself and pivot repeatedly, you start to train yourself into a new habit of behaviour that is more in tune with your true inner guidance and feels better. Practise, practise, practise!