You’re Not That Important! Let Go of Self-Consciousness

Self-consciousness can prevent you from being who you are, expressing what you are feeling, doing what you want to do. Learn how to break free of worrying about what other people think.

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Is it just me, or are people more self-consciousness than ever before? Thanks in no small part to the Internet in general and social media in particular, it seems like everyone is “under the microscope” these days.

This intensifies a culture where appearance, whether physical or financial, is all important; it can seem like being critical of others is the national pastime. Through the popular media, we also are bombarded by messages that we aren’t good enough, others are better than us, and we can be the best if we really want.

Because of these persistent messages of being judged and compared, it’s so easy to think that everyone is watching and critiquing our every move.

Self-consciousness isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In, fact, in all likelihood, it has been hard wired and enculturated into us as we have evolved as a species and a society. Self-consciousness helps ensure that we act in socially appropriate ways for fear of disapproval and rejection from society.

At the same time, self-consciousness can go well beyond keeping our behavior within a socially acceptable range. It can become a source of tremendous angst and unhappiness. Self-consciousness can create a pre-occupation with how we appear to others, what others think of us, and, often, can cause social anxiety and an inhibition of behavior that we fear others might judge to be less than desirable. I see people in my practice who are paralyzed by their self-consciousness.

Self-consciousness can prevent people from being who they are, expressing what they are feeling, doing what they want to do, and all because they are afraid of what other people will think or say about them.

For the vast majority of us, this self-consciousness, and the anxiety that is associated with it, is painfully misplaced. Here is a simple reality that should be liberating if you are overly self-conscious. Nobody is watching you. Nobody is thinking about you. Very few people even care about you. Why such a seemingly harsh pronouncement? Because you’re not that important!

Nobody outside of your immediate family and circle of friends really cares very much about you because you don’t impact their lives. Most people are focused predominantly on themselves. They have neither the time nor the energy to devote to people that have little effect on them.

Plus, somewhat ironically, the only concern most people have for you is their own misguided self-consciousness about what you are thinking about them!

When you think other people are thinking about you, it’s actually you who is thinking about you. When you believe others are being critical of you, they’re not, you are. Are you a mind reader? Of course not — we humans aren’t clairvoyant (though we like to think we are). So when you think someone is thinking badly of you, it’s really you thinking badly of you. Now that, not what other people are supposedly thinking of you, is something to be really concerned about.

Of course, this epiphany is a double-edged sword. It can lift a huge weight off of your shoulders because you no longer have to worry about what other people are thinking or saying about you, and you are free to think, feel, and act in ways that are true to yourself. The downside (sort of) is that we all want to live under the illusion that we are worthy of others devoting time and energy to thinking about us. But, as the saying goes, the truth will set you free!

Tips to Help You Let Go of Your Self-Consciousness

  1. When you feel self-conscious, look around and see if anyone is actually looking at you.
  2. Remind yourself that what you think others are thinking is actually what you are thinking.
  3. Take a risk and act in a way that might make you self-conscious and see what happens (probably nothing bad).
  4. Say “F&%# it” when you feel self-conscious and instead act in ways that you want to.
  5. As the saying goes, “dance as if no one is watching.”
  6. If your self-consciousness is interfering with your happiness, find a good therapist.

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Comments

  1. Excellent article on a really serious, damaging problem that seems to get worse all the time. The media keeps adding more fuel to the fire that’s already been burning out of control for decades!

    It’s really a case of the average person being expected to keep up with America’s richest people, to whom a large percentage are COMPLETELY undeserving of it. ‘People’ and other bottom feeder rags are in your face, literally, every time you go to the checkout line at the store.

    One of the best examples of brainwashing manipulation that are status and fear-based is America’s obsession/fetish with college, highlighted earlier this year by the Lori Loughlin/Felicity Huffman debacle. Like the bellowing Orwellian screen in ‘The Wizard of Oz’, no one dare, EVER question it!!

    No, no, no! If you don’t have it, you’re a failure, you’re stupid, you’ll never get a good job etc. etc. etc. All boiling down to humiliation. They’re the ultimate in puppet master humiliation, not unlike (at all really), the sadistic fraternity house leaders and their hazing rituals. They want obedient, wind-up dolls that don’t think outside their box at all.

    The colleges have spent millions and millions paying companies to require it, then higher and higher levels of it. YouTube is FULL of financially raped college grads who have 4, 6, 8 or more years of college with $100k & more in debt trying to get job that was “promised” with all the money spent “buying” it. Instead they’re not even getting interviews for the jobs in their chosen field, and when they do, the wage/salary is nowhere near what they were led to believe. They’re told if they don’t like that $12.50 per hour, there’s the door: someone else will be grateful to have it. Well, a lot of those same people wind up having to be grateful for it after years of trying. They become resigned to it because they have to. It’s a gig economy, and it ain’t changin’ in the future except to be even more so.

    College is a business, just like any other, parting you and your money. Unlike the oil companies or other large greedy corporations, the college industry is completely in your face, in a very personal, purposely embarrassing, vicious manner. The College Conspiracy (62 minute documentary) online gets down to business on this within the first 20 seconds. It’s from 2011, so the costs they refer to are much higher now. Other than that it’s still spot on.

    All of the above has to do with the self-consciousness and anxiety associated with it. You’re absolutely right that people don’t care about you, and why should they? You’re anonymous. Car companies are always pushing the status buttons of the “you are what you drive” mentality. Where I live (L.A.) Mercedes, BMW’s, Lexus are a dime a dozen along with all the rest of the mind-numbing black/gray/white SUV’s, crossovers and 4 door sedans that all look alike.

    Nobody cares! Even Lamborghini’s, Ferrari’s, Porches, Aston-Martins, Maserati’s are snore bores, Jim. A lot of them look angry and unhappy they’re not getting the attention they thought they bought. I’ve had a few look at me looking for thumbs up and nods of approval. Ummm, no. That would be a brief look over their way with a head shake and an eye roll. Nothing ‘mean’, just the appropriate acknowledgement that they’re no more special than I am, at all.

    Many of these people have almost ALL of their money going out for “show” with these leased cars, and little to no additional money. That’s their choice. I drive a ’99 Rav-4 (the original) with 230k miles on it. I’m the 2nd owner, bought it from my mechanic in 2012. It runs great, take it in for regular inexpensive maintenance, and am good to go. Full coverage insurance (Mercury) is $1,200 per year. I’ve never felt judged negatively that it’s an older car. No one’s EVER said “Oh my God, that man’s driving a 20 year old Toyota!” and never will. It’s SO liberating to have the F&%# IT attitude and NOT the enslaving values of misery.

    That could also be known as the ‘forget it’ or ‘forget about it’ attitude as well. All are positive steps of freeing yourself from crap you don’t need. There’s enough of that we have to deal with that we can’t control. The “what other people think” crap we CAN control. It’s your choice, literally. Love this article!

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