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10 Situations People with Claustrophobia Absolutely Hate

10 Situations People with Claustrophobia Absolutely Hate

Being claustrophobic is no fun. Getting stuck in a literal tight situation could be the difference between absolute calm and absolute panic attack. While my mother has found ways to combat her claustrophobia, going out of her way to avoid situations in which she feels closed in, I remain a glutton for punishment. I often end up finding myself in some of the following terrifying claustrophobic situations:

1. We Hate Crowded Elevators

The day I was moving into my apartment with my wife, we got stuck in the service elevator with a custodian and a huge bucket of garbage. For a half hour. In the dead of summer! Not exactly the way we wanted to start our life together, but at least we have a story to tell. I just know when the doors finally opened, I literally jumped out and just sat on the ground for a few minutes in order to regain my composure. I know it was a fluke, and I have no problem using elevators now, but if if there’s more than one or two people already on, I just wait for the next one. If I’m going to freak out, I’d rather be alone – there’s more jumping room.

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2. We Hate Concerts

Don’t get me wrong, I love going to concerts and shows, but standing room only is absolute torture. You only have one of two options: Stand in the middle of the crowd, or stand pressed up against the wall. Either way, you better like the decision you made, because chances are you’re going to be stuck there for the remainder of the night. With hundreds of other people jumping, dancing, and sweating all over you, it’s almost impossible to actually enjoy the band you came to see. If I’m going to a concert, I’ll gladly pay the extra fee to sit and enjoy myself.

3. We Hate Bars

In my college days, my friends would often drag me out for a night on the town, much to my chagrin. Again, I loved being out with my friends, but they seemed to actually like being stuck in a huge crowd full of drunken idiots, not being able to understand a word we said to each other. I definitely do not miss those days. Since you’re at a bar, you want to be able to have a drink. At a crowded college bar, that means weaving through the crowd, being pressed up against the bar, shouting for the bartender’s attention, then weaving your way back to the group without spilling the beverage you just spent six bucks on. If I could go back to those days, I would have just gone home early.

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4. We Hate Crowds in General

This is a no brainer, but claustrophobic people hate crowds. This includes any place where you have to wait in line alongside more than two or three people. Even on line at the supermarket, once you get locked in from behind, you’re going to feel the walls closing in. That said, nothing compares to the herd mentality at concerts or ball games, in which people bunch up outside the gates, and then funnel in with little disregard for those around them. My thought process in these situations is: If I don’t wait until the crowd dies down, I’ll have to spend five minutes “on the inside” recuperating. If I wait five minutes now, I’ll get inside and be able to move quickly.

5. We Hate Haunted Houses and Fun Houses

Honestly, I really don’t mind haunted houses. I expect to be scared, shocked, and thrilled, so I somehow am able to let my claustrophobia go in October. Wait. Now that I think about it, the last time I was in a corn maze was an absolute nightmare. Sure, you have the flag thing to help people find you if you get stuck, but in the heat of the moment, getting lost in a corn maze makes you feel like the walls are getting closer and closer together. After your first few wrong turns, panic sets in, and you start to wonder how long it’ll take to find the exit. Maybe instead of a flag, they could give claustrophobic people hedge clippers.

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6. We Hate Subways or Trains

As long as I can find a seat, I love riding the train into the city for a day of exploration. However, when that train is crowded, it’s thirty minutes of absolute anxiety. I’ve already went over how awful it is to be pressed up against other people in a crowd, but the situation is much worse when you’re in a moving vehicle. There are so many things that could go wrong here: a sudden stop could leave you splayed out across the lap of three strangers, or an elongated stop could leave you squished in a crowd for an indeterminate amount of time. I don’t even want to think of anything worse. When faced with a crowded train, it’s best to find a pole and grab on for dear life.

7. We Hate Tunnels

This is another situation which I actually secretly love for some reason. I know other people who suffer from claustrophobia hate them. Going through tunnels can be incredibly nerve wracking. The thought of being either underwater or under a mountain can lead to so many other thoughts of the horrible possibilities that could occur in the minute or two you spend inside the tunnel. I won’t list those possibilities here, but if you suffer from claustrophobia, I’m sure you’ve thought of them before. Just remember the next time you’re charged an $8 toll, your money is going toward safeguarding you and everyone else from these possibilities!

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8. We Hate Getting Stuck On A Ride

Earlier, I spoke about how getting stuck on a train is torture, with one of the main contributing factors being the fact that you have no idea how long you’ll be stuck. Now, imagine this happening 50-100 feet in the air in a Ferris wheel gondola or a roller coaster cart. Actually, don’t imagine that. I don’t even want to think about it, but I guess I have to for the sake of this article. This is one of those moments where I think the best advice is simply this: Don’t move. Have faith that the ride technicians will be working hard to get the ride moving again, and be patient. Perhaps most importantly: Don’t look down!

9. We Hate Sitting in the Middle Seat

Okay, let’s lighten it up a bit after the last few harrowing situations. Sitting in the middle seat, especially as an adult, is incredibly uncomfortable. You have no place to put your arms, and you’re basically at the mercy of the two passengers flanking you. Unfortunately, in such a situation, the best thing to do is simply fold your hands in your lap, look straight forward, and pray the driver hits every green light on the way to your destination.

10. We Hate Porta Potties

I don’t think anyone really enjoys being in a porta potty, but these are an absolute nightmare for claustrophobic people. I don’t even know if I can talk about this one. It’s pretty obvious why these are hell on earth, especially on a hot summer day. When possible, avoid having to use these at all costs. If you absolutely have to – hold your breath and hover!

Featured photo credit: Sad woman sitting alone on the windowsill via shutterstock.com

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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