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13 Struggles That People Who Are Hard On Themselves Would Understand

13 Struggles That People Who Are Hard On Themselves Would Understand

Being a person who is hard on himself or herself is very challenging. Some people think that we create our own problems by being hard on ourselves. The thing is it’s not natural for us to be kind to ourselves. We didn’t learn how to be compassionate to ourselves when we were young.

Here are 15 struggles that we people who are hard on ourselves would understand.

1. We seek perfection because of our past experiences.

We have zero tolerance for our own faults. Perfection is important to us. Maybe it’s due to our childhood experience like heavy expectations from our parents. Though you know the cause clearly, it has become a habit that you find it hard to get rid of it.

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2. We are only hard on ourselves.

When other people make mistakes, we forgive them readily. We are kind to other people and set low standards for them. But when it comes to ourselves, we set impossible high standards that can never be reached. We believe that other people deserved to be treated kindly, but not us.

3. No matter how talented we are, we still think it’s not enough.

We focus on achieving success, but no matter how much we achieved, we still feel that it’s not good enough. We don’t recognize our own talents because we think that everyone can do what we do.

4. Criticism makes us feel even worse.

It’s not because that we aren’t open to suggestions. It’s because people are telling us things that we already know about ourselves. We are good at finding faults with ourselves. Their criticisms just reaffirm how bad we know we are.

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5. But we keep asking for feedback to seek reassurance.

Even though we seek perfection in everything we do, we don’t know what perfection is. Our parents never praise us when we did something good or when we get good grades in school. They don’t want us to get too big-headed. But that also made us feel that we didn’t do well enough all the time.

6. Yet, we can’t receive compliments.

We never hear enough positive things about us growing up. When people compliment us, it’s hard for us to believe what they said is true. We think that they are just being nice to us. So every time someone gives us a compliment, we would give the credit to something else.

7. We hate to open up and be vulnerable.

We are afraid to let others know that we are less than perfect. We know we aren’t the perfect child, the perfect parent, the perfect student, the perfect employee, the perfect boss etc. But other people cannot know about this. We feel insecure when other people know that we aren’t as strong as we looked.

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8. We don’t ask others for help even when we need them.

Asking others for help makes us look weak. It also make us feel incompetent. We don’t want others to know that we can’t accomplished what we set out to do. No matter how hard it is, we want to do everything by ourselves. We want to be perceived as capable. So we help others and not let them return the favor.

9. We don’t want to disappoint others, especially our parents.

We try to get everything right the first time. It is painful to let other people see us fail. Failure not only affects our self-image, it affects our parents’ image too. Remember how disappointed they were with us when we got bad grades in school or messed things up. We want our parents and others to be proud of us. We don’t want to let them down.

10. We feel responsible for other people’s happiness.

We are quick to blame ourselves even when things don’t work out for others. For example, when our children didn’t turn out the way we expect them to be, we blame ourselves for not being good enough parents or not loving enough. If other people’s needs aren’t satisfied, we always see us as the problem.

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11. We always ask for forgiveness.

We always feel guilty about our mistakes and apologize to others frequently. “Sorry” is our mantra. We don’t know how to forgive ourselves for our mistakes. If others can forgive us, at least that would make us feel much better.

12. We keep thinking about the things that we did and the things we didn’t do.

We are full of regrets. We are always haunted by our past. We always reprimand ourselves for not doing it better, so that we would learn and not to make the same mistakes again. However, we still make the same mistakes over and over again.

13. We punish ourselves to make us feel better.

Other people think that we create our own problems by being hard on ourselves. That’s not the case. We punish ourselves so that we feel less guilty for the things we have done. We don’t know how to be compassionate towards ourselves. Being hard on ourselves makes us the victim and we can sympathize with that.

Featured photo credit: I Died So I Could Haunt You / Helga Weber via flickr.com

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Yong Kang Chan

Self-Help Author (Writes about Self-Compassion and Mindfulness)

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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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