The best strategies for dealing with self-consciousness

It’s fair to say that most people struggle with feelings of self-consciousness. But it’s not something they often talk about, so it’s easy to feel you’re alone.

If you do suffer from feelings of self-consciousness then it can hinder your life quite significantly. You spend so much time and energy worrying about what others might think of you that you can withdraw from the world, and turn down invitations and opportunities.

In this article we’ll look at how feelings of self-consciousness can impact your life, and share some tips and tricks to deal with feeling self-conscious. 

How self-conscious feelings can hinder your life

Most people associate self-consciousness with your mental health. This is understandable as it certainly can trigger mental health problems – and it is also triggered by mental health issues. So, there’s a natural loop to follow here, which feels like an endless one if you’re suffering. 

Self-consciousness also impacts all other areas of your life, including your professional life, your personal life and your romantic life.

At the root, self-consciousness impacts your mental health and affects your confidence. When you feel self-conscious, you’re less likely to be a good decision-maker.

You can also be really quiet, both of which can hold you back in your career. You’re too afraid to speak up in work meetings with a good idea because you’re worried about how people react.

You may also struggle to make friends because you’re too nervous to speak to other people. Why? Because you feel self-conscious and are scared they’ll find you annoying or won’t want to speak to you. From a romantic perspective, you may have a hard time finding love for the same reason. 

All in all, this contributes to a life that isn’t as good as it could be. You aren’t embracing the opportunities that are open to you, or making your own opportunities. You’re missing out on friendships, love, fun times and professional opportunities, and can end up with a life half lived if you’re not careful.

This is why it’s so important not to let self-consciousness take over, and to find strategies to tackle it sooner rather than later.

We’re going to look at some strategies you can implement in a moment, but first we need to draw your attention to a disclaimer: If you’ve suffered like this for years, it’s not something that will change overnight.

These suggestions will only work if you properly commit to them. Similarly, there’s no timescale for how quickly they should work – it all depends on you. If it takes you five years to come out of your shell and feel better, that’s awesome. If you see changes in five weeks, that’s even better! 

So, without further ado, let’s jump into some self-consciousness strategies.

Remember that nobody cares as much about you as you think

This may come across as a little harsh, so it needs some explaining. The main reason you’re self-conscious is because you’re worried about what people think of you.

For example, you might be nervous about wearing a new outfit to work in case people make fun of you. Or you spend hours doing your hair in the mirror because you’re worried about what others will think of it.

In reality, you’re not a big deal to everyone else – no one is! Obviously, people love and care about you – that goes without saying. But what we mean is that you aren’t the centre of everyone else’s world.

That random person on the street probably won’t even notice what you look like. They won’t think back at the end of the day and laugh at how ridiculous you looked.

In the nicest way possible, you don’t matter as much as you think you do – so please remember that, and let it reassure you if you find yourself overthinking about what other people might think of you. 

Stop worrying about people’s reactions

On a similar note, you need to learn to stop caring about how people will react to the things you say. This is particularly important if you feel self-conscious during work meetings.

We’ve been in situations where we haven’t made a great point because we’re worried about the reaction. Are they going to laugh at us and call us stupid? No, nobody will.

It’s very rare, especially in professional environments, that somebody is going to be overly negative about something you do/say. If they don’t agree, they’ll usually explain why and you can be put at ease. 

How many times have you thought about doing something but held back, only for someone else to do it and get a positive reaction? It happens all the time, meaning you miss out!

You miss out on the laughter from your friends as someone else makes your joke. You miss out on catching the boss’s eye as someone else makes your point. So stop fretting about people’s reactions as they will never be as bad as you think. 

Identify the key reasons for your feelings

Typically, you can boil self-consciousness down to one or two main reasons. For example, you don’t like your hair or you have stained teeth so you’re conscious of them whenever you speak.

Your task is to look in the mirror and identify the key reasons for feeling self-conscious. These are almost always physical, but they can be mental too. For instance, you may be self-conscious as you think your ideas are awful or you’re boring. In the mental cases, refer back to the first two tips to deal with them. 

For the physical causes of self-consciousness, you have to deal with them to solve the problem. In some instances, this is just a case of learning to accept yourself. Stop comparing yourself to others and realise that you are a beautiful person.

This is an excellent mantra to have if you suffer from body image self-consciousness. This is increasingly common today, particularly in young women who are worried that they don’t look like Instagram models). Don’t compare yourself to them, accept the body you’ve got and love yourself! 

Having said that, you can take action against issues that are easily changeable. The smile problem is a great example. If you’re not happy with your teeth, use something like Crest Whitening Strips to remove stains and make them a whiter shade. Now, you feel far happier with your smile and it’s no longer causing self-conscious feelings. 

Really, it’s a case of identifying your issues, then either accepting what you can’t change or change what you can. This can deal with self-consciousness by attacking the source!

Take baby steps out of your comfort zone

Finally, you have to gradually move out of your comfort zone. Being chronically self-conscious means you don’t do anything that makes you anxious. As a result, the problem will only get worse. You have to make movements and do things that make you feel uncomfortable.

We’re not asking you to jump in the deep end, but take baby steps. Aim to make a point in your next meeting, reach out to a friend and ask if they want to do something, ask a question the next time you’re out with friends. 

It’s easy to gradually ease yourself into a place where you feel comfortable doing these things. Remember, the more you do something, the less uncomfortable it feels.

It’s a bit like driving a car – when you first get behind the wheel, it would be stupid to chuck you headfirst into a test. After one lesson, you’re still nervous and getting to grips with things.

Over time, you start to feel more comfortable, more relaxed, and driving becomes second nature. After a few years of doing it, you look back at the start and wonder why you were ever nervous. Take baby steps in your life to tiptoe out of your comfort zone and gradually feel less self-conscious. 

We hope these ideas can help you take steps to tackle your self-consciousness, and stop letting it hinder your life. It’s always important to confront your problems if you want to improve your mental health and live a more full and happy life.  

Photo by DANNY G