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Why People Who Don’t Use Phones All the Time Lead A More Meaningful Life

Why People Who Don’t Use Phones All the Time Lead A More Meaningful Life

Prepare yourself for a bit of a rant.

I spent much of January, 2011 in Costa Rica on a study abroad trip. I returned with many vivid memories, such as staring into a volcano, hiking down hundreds of stone steps to a stunning waterfall, zip lining through misty clouds above a breathtaking rain forest, and eating dinner at a cliff-side restaurant overlooking a starlit valley.

But perhaps my favorite memory, the one I miss the most, is the moment I locked my cell phone in the hotel safe—where it lurked for the rest of the trip.

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Don’t get me wrong. Phones are useful. But somewhere along the way, people seem to have stopped viewing phones as a means to an end and started treating them like little rechargeable deities. I say “little”—these last few years phones have hit a growth spurt. Society needs to make up its mind. How can you expect me to wear skinny jeans when I’m trying to transport a phone that’s as big as my face? But I digress.

Anyway, assuming you’re like me, and you can spend an hour sans cell phone (without hyperventilating), let’s indulge in a playful little tribute to ourselves. Here is why the few of us who can survive an awkward pause without a cellphone conversation are wonderful.

1. We know how to have an actual conversation.

Don’t you love it when you’re telling a story and the listener pulls out their phone? Some would argue I’m just a bad story teller, but I choose to blame phone addicts. If you were talking to me and I turned to talk to someone else, you would be annoyed right? So how is it any different when you start reading a text? Why are the text thoughts more important than mine? I’m the one who cared enough to actually spend time with you. And don’t give me the classic line “Keep going, I’m still listening.” I’ll bet you are.

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2. We can go on an actual vacation.

I love cruises. So much. And one of the many reasons is everybody leaves their phones in their rooms and tries to remember how to be a human being—at least while they’re on the ship.

Earlier this year, my wife and I went on a cruise that debarked in Cozumel. We hitched a ride to the nearest beach; and while I swam in the crystal clear water, bounced sky high on floating trampolines, and tried to conquer my crippling fear of marine life, my beautiful wife took advantage of the beach’s free wifi. Because apparently that’s a thing now. Free wifi. At the beach.

3. We can tell you who won the game.

I will never understand this. How can you spend big money on concert or sports tickets and waste the whole show looking at your phone? Explain that to me. I took a college class from the GM of a minor league baseball team. He explained a growing struggle in live sports is keeping people’s attention on the action instead of their phones. Hence all the wacky dance contests and t-shirt bombardments during timeouts.

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4. We’re less stressed (according to research).

In a study conducted at the University of Missouri, Time Magazine reports students’ “blood pressure and heart rate increased” when their cell phones “started ringing across the room but they were unable to answer them.”

In a different study, “high mobile phone use was associated with sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression for the men and symptoms of depression for the women.”

And since many of us use our phones to browse through social media sites, I’ll give you one more. Elite Daily reports, “New research suggests people who don’t use Facebook are happier than the average person who uses the social networking site regularly.”

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5. We don’t ruin movies for everyone around us.

Remember when the first “turn off your phones” reminder showed up in movie theaters? At the time, it didn’t seem that necessary. Now, the movie warm up routine is basically preview, “turn off your phone,” preview, “turn off your phone,” opening credits, “turn off your phone.” And it still doesn’t work! I was at one theater that encouraged people to install an app that puts your phone on “movie mode.” Are you kidding me? Your phone already has a built-in movie mode. It’s called “silent,” and it’s not hard to activate.

Confession Time

I may have come on strong in this post, so let me land this plane with a little humility and a dose of encouragement.

I’m a recovering cell phone addict. My particular app of choice was Clash of Clans. I would rearrange my entire schedule and mistreat the people around me in service to that game. But thanks to a five day cruise (I told you cruises were wonderful), I broke the habit. Then I went a step further. I’ve recently changed the settings on my phone’s work email account so it won’t sync unless I tell it to manually. This gives me access to my work emails when I want, instead of letting them constantly interrupt my evenings and weekends.

If you find yourself feeling shackled to your cell phone, consider the research and know that, at least in my case, life has been more fun ever since I took control (minus a few days of withdrawal).

Featured photo credit: View Apart via shutterstock.com

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Kyle Young

Operations Manager, GoinsWriter

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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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