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How My Divorce Surprisingly Made Me A Much Stronger Person

How My Divorce Surprisingly Made Me A Much Stronger Person

Recently, I was sitting on the beach with my friend Adam Gilad, who had just finished leading a workshop for divorced men. I was reflecting that since his divorce, he had become one of the happiest, most fulfilled people I knew – even going so far as to lead other divorced people towards their own happiness and self-realization.

I asked him if his divorce had made him stronger, and his answer floored me. He opened my eyes with what he said:

When I got divorced, I thought it was the end of my life. I thought I would lose the connection with my kids. I thought no one would ever date me because I was a “failure” having “lost” my family.

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But what should – according to the popular script –have been my mid-life crisis, turned out to be my mid-life awakening. What I thought was an exposure of my most powerless self for all the world to see turned out to be the springboard of my happiest and most powerful decade ever.

I became stronger as a man – I had to – in fact, I had the privilege to – take stock of who I was, free of the habits of being in a relationships. I got to choose how I wanted to spend my evenings, my weekends. How I wanted to eat. What I wanted to read.

When I didn’t have my kids at home (50%) of the time, I now had MORE time to self-develop and build my confidence than I did before. I attended workshops on self-expression, advanced sexuality, internet business building – and discovered whole new skills and communities I never would have found before.

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I became stronger as a father. Instead of taking the back seat on dinner and homework at night, I either cooked or grabbed a book for us to mine for gems over dinner. Mealtimes became learning times as my sons and I delved together into what it means to be a man, a leader, an artist. Because I had my sons for only 50% of the time, every minute became more precious – so we bugged out for more snowboarding trips, more movies together, more rivers to run, more adventures.

But more important than all that, my sons got to see their Dad in his deepest vulnerability rebuild his life. They saw me nervously preparing for dates. We discussed sex openly and honestly. As I got to know myself better and know what made a good companion, we three guys sat together and talked about how to choose a great partner and what qualities to look for.  We also talked about what to do to be more likable, nurturing, and valuable.

If, as Brené Brown says, vulnerability is the measure of our courage, I became damned courageous. If a relationship broke up, we’d crack open some cold ones and reflect on life, hope, heartbreak, and resilience.

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I became stronger as a provider. Up until my divorce I had been a screenwriter and producer but now needed to create a steadier income. By necessity I threw myself into entrepreneurial training and created a content-marketing business that has sustained me for 11 years. One of the proudest moments of my life was when my then 11 year old, watching me taking notes during a webinar said, “You know, Dad, a lot of people talk about getting rich. But you’re doing something about it!”

In fact, I wasn’t trying to get rich, I was trying to pay the mortgage!

But above all, I became stronger as the driver of my life. When we are married, we fall into habit and can potentially stop taking responsibility for forging our own destinies. We may go with the flow rather than carve new and exciting channels into our futures outside of our comfort zones.

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I soon began to reframe everything. I stopped saying “when I got divorced” and started saying “when I got single” – because I didn’t want to identify with being a “divorced man” but rather a man who was single and was looking forward, not backward.

I corrected those who said that a woman with kids had “baggage”. Instead I encouraged the perspective that a woman’s children were just “bonus” people I get to love in this life.

I undertook the study of what makes love thrive, what makes life worth living, and what it means to be inspired during these years we have on Earth. I challenged everything. I traveled to Peru to study with shamans. I traversed the world with entrepreneurs. I built businesses. Danced in the desert till the sun came up. Dove deep with astounding and sensually alive women. I raised my sons into happy manhood– and recently, married a woman who raises me to my highest self every day and every night.

At the end of my post-divorce decade, I told my sons, while we were sitting on a Caribbean beach after a day of kiteboarding lessons, “Hey, if I died today, please don’t mourn me. I’ve had the most amazing life. Celebrate that I was here.”

Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Nick Bastion

Love Expert, Relationship Coach, Author

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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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