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Life after The Military: Practical Tips for A Happy Life

Life after The Military: Practical Tips for A Happy Life

After some time spent in the service, the old excitement and “glamour” simply runs out. Most people that were in the service realize quite fast that there is nothing noble or uplifting about being in combat. It is a very difficult and for some even traumatizing experience that could leave a huge mark on somebody.

After seeing a number of friends and family members return from military service, some of whom had seen their share of combat, and just how difficult it was for them to reintegrate into civilian life, I started talking to those who managed to pull through and they gave me some priceless advices.

It can be quite hard to get back to the regular civilian life for various reasons. I asked people to tell me about the things which were the hardest for them and also to give me valuable insights on how they were able to overcome them and lead a happy life after service. Here is what those military veterans told me.

1. Don’t Expect Too Much

I know that this is a sensitive subject, but I’m trying to help you and I cannot do this without being honest. Chances are you won’t be welcomed as a hero. Your family will be there of course, but even that moment when you reunite, no matter how joyful it might be, can still be awkward.

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I am telling this to all of those who expect a triumphant storybook return. This might happen in the movies or books, but this is real life and you must prepare for it. Even your first kiss with your partner you haven’t seen for a long time can be awkward, especially if you have been away for a long time and you haven’t kissed for so long.

Additionally, you will learn that everyone has changed. This is the difficult reality of being in the military and having a partner. When being apart for so long in different emotional states, you and your partner will both change a lot. If you have kids, they will change as well and it might be tough on you, realizing what things you’ve missed while you were away.

2. Take Time to Readjust to Civilian Life

Each and every person who’s been in the service and especially those who’ve seen real combat need time to get used to being back home. It’s Impossible to simply leave a dangerous environment filled with destruction, death, and constant life threats followed with personal losses you must cope with, and expect to come back home without carrying some of those things back with you.

Even if you didn’t have a lot of real combat action, it doesn’t mean that the transition will not be difficult. When you have worked for months or even years with the army, taking care of your duty on a daily basis, being criticized or rushed constantly, you might get bored of living an “ordinary” life where everything is quiet. A lot of people struggle with the uncertainties of life and they miss their constant, clear military objectives.

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Essentially, you must understand that your mental journey to a normal life will be much longer than the physical one. Once all of the homecoming celebrations have ended, your transition period will still continue. During this period, it is essential that you try and take care of yourself both physically and spiritually. Focus on your family with group activities, be active and exercise, and the most importantly, talk about your experiences with people who can understand as this can help you during the transition period.

3. Find A Job

There are a lot of people who come back from their service and just sit around doing nothing. This gives them too much free time and they start thinking about the experiences they’ve had and the terrible things they saw back in the military. They start obsessing and bad things come out of it, including alcoholism, drugs, depression, etc.

Of course, you should take the deserved break you need, but after you have started getting used to civilian life you should start working as soon as possible. This will keep those thoughts back and you will focus on things that surround you during your everyday work. Try and find a job that has a higher dose of seriousness and requires similar discipline to make up for what you are missing.

4. Seek Professional Help

Sometimes just talking with your brothers in arm, friends, or family members is not enough to get you through the memories that might haunt you. In this case, you should look to use on your VA and seek professional help. The VA can help you in many ways, but one of the best things is that there is a huge community and a great resource you can utilize whenever needed.

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If you need someone to talk with and help you go through any issues you might be having after your military service has passed, they will be there at your disposal. No matter how alone you might feel, there are people with VA who have talked to a lot of those who had trouble readjusting, and helped them get back on track.

5. Find Your Place in The Community

For a lot of people, the sense of belonging to a group is one of the things they miss about the military. This is why it’s a good idea to get connected with some large community in order to feel like you are home. Of course, you should start by looking for a wider ring of neighbors and friends who have appreciation and respect for your time in the army. There are people who experienced this sense of community by becoming a part of service organizations, civic groups or clubs.

Some veterans do this using their faith and their religious community and they get involved in church activities. No matter what your interests are, there are a lot of communities and you can certainly find one that suits you. If you’re a part of something bigger and helping others instead of thinking about yourself, you can start feeling like a civilian.

The readjustment period can be a difficult time for anyone. Before the end, I would like to mention one thing that is very important.

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“Don’t try to remember who you were before you went to the army.”

Everyone changes after their service and this is a normal thing. You cannot force yourself to be someone you once were. You will change, and other people will change as well. Learn to accept these things and become a part of your community as the person you are at the moment.

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Ivan Dimitrijevic

Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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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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