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Only People Who’re Hard On Themselves Would Understand These 13 Things

Only People Who’re Hard On Themselves Would Understand These 13 Things

Often referred to as perfectionists, people who are hard on themselves live very stressful lives. This usually has little to do with how someone is reared or treated by others.

I have been this way most of my life, although I’ve recently been able to switch off the perfection switch. It’s very hard to live like this -we are usually this way from a very young age, so it becomes all we know.

Have a look and you’ll see what I mean.

1. We Spend So Much Time Trying to Perfect Things

For most people it’s fine to simply allocate an hour or so a day to accomplishing their goals. But not for people who are tough on themselves, we spend all of our free time perfecting our goals.

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This is often at the cost of our social life and family commitments. Everything is forgotten about in the name of perfection.

2. We Become Defensive When Criticized

People who are tough on themselves struggle with criticism even if it is delivered in a gentle way. We take it to heart and store it in a special place for the next time someone criticizes us. Then we bring it back up to the surface again and remind ourselves how imperfect we are.

3. We Go For All or Nothing

If we think we might get full marks, or first prize we will go for something full speed ahead. But if we think that we can’t reach those high standards we simply won’t get involved at all.

This is how much we dislike not winning.

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4. We Are Highly Critical of Mistakes

For the most part we are intolerant of our own mistakes. But we are often critical of others when they make mistakes. We see perfection as attainable and something that everyone should be aiming for. Anything less and the perfectionist doesn’t understand.

5. We Set Out To Be the Best at Everything We Do

We aim to be the best and not second best. We feel a sense of urgency as we work in case someone is passing us. We panic at results time if we don’t ace the exam/assignment/test and get an A. We get frustrated during a game if we don’t score enough baskets.

6. We Get Nervous Sometimes

Anytime we have to perform (at an interview, a presentation, on stage etc.), everything has to be perfect. We put ourselves under enormous pressure to achieve the impossible and so the nervous system caves. This can become worse over time if not addressed.

7. We Feel Humiliated When Others Perform Better

If it turns out that someone else scores higher in a test, or runs faster, or just generally performs better in a particular area of life, we feel humiliated and disappointed. After all, we worked harder than them – so if we can’t beat them now, we’ll never beat them.

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8. We are Our Own Worst Critic

It doesn’t matter how many times somebody tells us that it’s okay, we will continue to beat ourselves up over the smallest things. If we make a mistake or do something ‘wrong’, we still berate ourselves for it long after everyone has forgotten about it.

Sometimes we never forgive ourselves and this can drain our emotional resources.

9. We are Horrified When Exposed

When we are exposed as being imperfect (which of course everyone is in reality), we are horrified. We cover up our imperfect bodies, and we keep our substandard results to ourselves because disclosing our imperfections is just too horrifying. It’s a lot of hard work when you are hard on yourself.

10. We Play Things Over and Over in Our Minds

If things don’t turn out the way we hope, we play it over and over in our minds – as if thinking about it will alter the outcome. This becomes obsessional almost, can be difficult to stop and is quite destructive.

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11. We Only Focus on The Result

We keep our eyes firmly on the prize, be it first place or a good grade, the best outfit or the cleanest house. In the process we forget to enjoy the journey. The value of learning is lost on us and the joy of shopping for the outfit is immaterial. It’s all about being the best at the end of the day.

12. We are Acutely Aware of Others

What other people think of us is of major concern to us. We want them to know that we are the best, the best looking, the most charismatic, the best performer etc.

13. We aren’t Always Happy

People who are hard on themselves often suffer from depression and anxiety as they live in a world where they are in constant pursuit of the impossible. We push ourselves harder and harder to achieve something that is unattainable. Of course this can only result in great disappointment.

After some time, this kind of strain becomes too much for the human spirit and we start to break down.

But it is possible to change – to learn how to go easier on yourself. I’ve found that with maturity I’ve given myself more of a chance to have a little fun with life and to take things less seriously.

If like me you too find it hard to go easy on yourself – take heart – it is possible to break out of those chains.

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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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