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Why People Who Don’t Fear To Embarrass Themselves Are More Creative

Why People Who Don’t Fear To Embarrass Themselves Are More Creative

Want to be more creative?

Creativity is within your reach if you can cultivate the proper habits. You need to cultivate proper habits because connecting the dots and thinking creatively is a process for all of us. It’s a long-term process rather than a single event. Those people who are more inclined to expose themselves to new ideas, people who don’t mind embarrassing themselves, get to improve upon their creativity. Those people who wrestle with creative ideas for years get to refine their ideas and reap the fruits of their labors.

In an excellent post about creative thinking, writer James Clear exposes the myth that is the “eureka” moment, the so-called “light bulb” moment or the aha!” moment. He demonstrates that a single flash of genius isn’t really what it is made out to be by citing the most iconic eureka moment in the history of scientific storytelling: When Sir Isaac Newton saw an apple fall to the ground in 1666.

When you think of Isaac Newton, you probably imaging he was born a genius. But, he wasn’t. When Newton was young, he did so poorly in grade school that his teachers gave up on improving his grades. And yet he grew up to become the greatest English mathematician of his generation. How did he do it? He kept improving himself throughout his life despite any ridicule and disapproval he faced.

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Concerning Newton’s most famous work on gravitation, Clear writes:

“In 1666, one of the most influential scientists in history was strolling through a garden when he was struck with a flash of creative brilliance that would change the world.

While standing under the shade of an apple tree, Sir Isaac Newton saw an apple fall to the ground. ‘Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground,’ Newton wondered. ‘Why should it not go sideways, or upwards, but constantly to the earth’s center? Assuredly, the reason is, that the earth draws it. There must be a drawing power in matter.’

And thus, the concept of gravity was born.”

However, what people fail to realize, Clear continues, is that Newton worked on his ideas about gravity for nearly twenty years. It wasn’t until 1687 that he consolidated his brilliant thoughts and published his groundbreaking book, The Principia: Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.

“The falling apple was merely the beginning of a train of thought that continued for decades,” Clear points out.

In other words, the real creative work, the connecting of the dots, the bridging of seemingly unrelated and obscure ideas happened between the years when he first got the flash of insight and when he published his iconic book. Creativity is a process, not a single event.

Exercise your creativity despite judgment for as long as it takes

Judgment of our creative work or thoughts should not be feared. That judgment is a useful feedback metric. Creators need it because, without it, there is no opportunity to improve and make our ideas better. Without it, there is no verification of work completed. So, don’t let fear of being ridiculed, embarrassed, or humiliated stop you in your tracks. Even Albert Einstein’s work was criticized and rejected.

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In the 1972 classic book Albert Einstein: Creator & Rebel, authors Banesh Hoffman (Einstein’s former scientific assistant) and Hellen Dukas (Einstein’s secretary for many years) reveal in the most intimately knowledgeable and touching way how the scientific community criticized, ridiculed, and rejected a patent clerk who published a revolutionary theory.

Though criticized and rejected, Einstein, the lowly theoretical physicist, wasn’t discouraged. He pressed on with his creative work and as time went on, more and more scientists saw the validity and incomparable brilliance of his work and thoughts.

Today, Einstein is recognized as the creator of relativity, godfather of quantum physics, and bender of time and space. He was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics for his explanation of the photoelectric effect in 1905 and “for his services to Theoretical Physics.”

There will always be a critic who dislikes your work.

Every creative person worth his sorts will face critics. It’s almost inevitable. And if you truly care about your work or ideas, you will experience creative uncertainty, doubt and fear many times, especially when releasing something new you’ve created to the world. Only those who stand firm and don’t let fear of disapproval or embarrassment smother their creativity will rise and leave a mark in this world.

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“Being in the top 1% of intelligence has no correlation with being fantastically creative,” writes Clear. “Instead, you simply have to be smart (not a genius) and then work hard, practice deliberately and put in your reps.” The most creative people share a willingness to labor in their craft, ship their best work, and respond to critics and the audience in a smart way that enhances their next creative cycle.

Remember, the risk of your work being judged, of making a fool of yourself, pales in comparison to the terror of inaction and regret of missed opportunities due to fear of being embarrassed.

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Think about what it would be like to be embarrassed for exercising your creativity. Would it really be as bad or humiliating as you think it would be? In most cases, you’ll find you’re worried about things that aren’t humiliating, disconcerting, or enduring. So, let go of your fears, embrace discomfort, and start creating.

Featured photo credit: CREATISTA via shutterstock.com

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More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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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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