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5 Amazing Things You Gain By Doing The Unthinkable

5 Amazing Things You Gain By Doing The Unthinkable

Last year, my family learned how to scuba dive. Along with my husband and our three grown sons, we wanted to learn a new skill — something we could take with us for years to come and enjoy together on future vacations as well.

When catching up with friends and I would tell them what I was learning, every single one immediately told me, “I could never do that.”

All of them had already given themselves permission to not even try.

They wrote off not just my scuba diving experience off, but every other challenge they could have imagined or dreamed.

To them, the idea of doing something hard on purpose seemed unthinkable.

On occasion, I would get asked, “Why are you doing that?” And after listening to my answer, some people were left in bewilderment while others didn’t quite see the attraction to forcing myself to learn a new skill. After all, no one was making me do this.

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I will admit that learning to scuba dive was not easy. I have bouts of claustrophobia and have a fear of drowning. Who wouldn’t, right?

When I am nervous or afraid, I become somewhat sarcastic — what some people interpret as “wit.” I’m just keeping it real. That way, no one sees just how scared I really am.

With scuba diving, one of the skills you must be tested on and pass is filling your mask with water while you are underwater and then getting rid of the water in your mask — while you are still underwater. It sounds impossible. I didn’t believe it could be done either. If you are a nose-breather like me, the last thing you want to do is suck all of the water in your mask in through your nose. Although you have your regulator still in your mouth so you can breath, mastering this skill pushed me hard. I even practiced at home so as not to panic in class.

Eventually, the day came when we actually went out onto a small boat into the Gulf of Mexico where I needed to put everything I had learned to the true test. When it was all said and done, we had all completed six dives to depths of 80 feet below the surface, seen numerous sea species, and I for one learned more about myself than I can remember. In addition, I gained a few things as well.

There are five things we gain by doing things that challenge us and might even be considered “unthinkable.” Here they are.

1. Positive attitude

When we challenge ourselves, we struggle with our fears. We are trying something new and the uncertainty that lies on the other side of any feat could be enough to sway us to never try anything new again. However, once we accomplish what we set out to accomplish, our attitude shifts. Everything that once held us back has no hold over us — and we know it.

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The way we think about everything going forward changes. The mental game we play can ruin even the smallest of things we hope to accomplish. Doing something most would consider “unthinkable” changes all of that. Our perspectives are no longer jaded with the opinions of others and instead are filled with the positive mindset one only gets by achieving success. Immediately, we begin to believe where doubt once lived and our mindset is completely different — to the point of never being able to return to the way it once was ever again.

2. Confidence

Growing more sure of oneself is not something that comes when the task at hand is easy or predictable. In fact, quite the opposite is true. When we take on a task that seems too daunting for most, our belief in ourselves most likely will be questioned. However, when one replaces that seed of doubt with something much more firm and strong, then the doubt no longer can be planted again. We begin to trust our abilities and push ourselves to be even more than we were before.

As we grow more confident, our sense of adventure heightens and some of our acts become even more daring and brash. We become someone who will not give up and allow any momentary setbacks to propel us forward. Any doubt we once had can’t even find a place to hide anymore.

3. Excitement

When we accomplish something scary or hard, we get super excited in ways we don’t while doing just normal everyday things. That excitement just grows as it releases endorphins into our body and we need to “feed that high” the only way we know how — to do more exciting things.

Doing what was once deemed as “unthinkable” creates a frenzy that stirs emotions of thrill and enthusiasm. Without realizing it, that feeling is something we become addicted to as we begin to make different choices that perpetuate that sense of “feeling alive.” It begins to stimulate more ideas, allowing creativity to creep in everywhere we look. At times, our excitement can be lead by impulses otherwise never imagined.

4. Courage

It’s hard to be strong when you aren’t sure you can do something, but after you do it, you become less fearful of anything else. Whether you go looking for a challenge or one just shows up on your doorstep one day, you remember what it took to do something hard and you remind yourself of not only what you’ve done, but who you are.

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When you do something “unthinkable,” fear no longer comes along for the ride, hoping you will turn back or chicken out. It knows better. Staying calm and level-headed in times of crisis or chaos will allow you to dig deep and find what your spunk looks like, baring your gnarly teeth of the guts it took all the way. You just wait patiently for the next dare and greet it with open arms, almost as if to say, “Let’s see who gives up first. It won’t be me.” You become braver in every aspect of your life.

5. Motivation

We are inspired by the acts and words of others. Especially when they do something we consider to be “impossible.” What was once something we deemed as impossible now has a different look. Without knowing so at the time, our mere witness to such experiences change us in ways we never imagined they would and we begin to want to accept challenges as well. New ideas are born. Our perspective changes and our inquisitive nature becomes more daring and bold, even if others don’t see it right away. We notice the boring and routine in our lives and we begin to ache for the actions we long to take.

Motivation is found in the smallest of acts we take — we begin to exercise to lose weight, beginning with running a simple mile. We begin to learn more from other likeminded individuals and, like sponges, soak up everything we can. Every ounce of knowledge becomes another stepping stone in our quest to move forward and achieve what no one else has believed to be possible. Once that motivation has begun to take shape and move, it becomes something that cannot be stopped or derailed by anyone.

Conclusion

At one time, all things were unthinkable — whether it be fire or a round wheel. Invention and the willingness to try new things often led to failure. However, in learning, we give ourselves chances to do better and often exceed our own expectations.

Once we start to feel the above, our mindset completely changes. The world becomes our playground and amazing things begin to unfold. Most likely, the things we never could have imagined become our foundation for the way we choose to live going forward.

We have heard what others said couldn’t be done. We believe their words to be true.

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However, when push came to shove, we proved them wrong. There is a bit of irony thrown in that in order for one to do the unthinkable, once must, in fact, do the unthinkable.

In doing so, the most amazing things change our way of thinking and our outlook in the future, ultimately changing us in the process.

At one time, learning to scuba dive seemed unthinkable to me. Not even a blip on my radar.

Do something hard once in a while. Challenge yourself in ways everyday life doesn’t.

You may think “it can’t be done” or find another reason why you shouldn’t even try. However, giving yourself a chance to find out and gain these five attributes that you will carry with you for the rest of your life will only make you better. Then, the only question will be, “What do I do next?”

Featured photo credit: Dino Reichmuth via unsplash.com

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Michelle A. Homme

Author, Speaker, Quote Writer, Empowerment Coach

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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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