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10 Ways In Which Being Independent Makes Your Relationship Better

10 Ways In Which Being Independent Makes Your Relationship Better

Successful and happy relationships are really important if we want to live a long and happy life. This is the view of Dr. John Gottman, a relationships expert, in a recent interview with CNN. Being in a healthy relationship is going to impact much more than your gluten free diet or whether you run a marathon every week!

A vital component in a successful relationship is being independent. That may seem like a contradiction because it implies a certain distance and detachment. In reality, it will help you thrive. Here are ten ways you can make sure this happens.

1. You keep your identity

“In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.”- Erich Fromm

It is wonderful to have shared interests which will bond you in a marvellous way. However, you do not need to do this 100% of the time. The risk is that you lose your individuality and you end up as a very tight couple or morphed unit. Just think of the pleasure in doing something on your own and then coming back to tell each other about it.

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2. You are self sufficient

I know lots of couples where one or both are so dependant on each other that they just cannot function on their own. Simple skills like driving a car, cooking a basic meal and even making friends on Facebook are left to the other partner. The problem here is that you can become over dependent and this can result in a whinging and clingy significant other. Aiming for a degree of self sufficiency is very wise. It takes off a lot of the pressure.

3. You know how to keep the relationship fresh

After years and years, you know exactly how your partner is going to react and what she or he is going to say! It becomes a sort of ritual and in some ways, this is reassuring. But if this leads to a stale and stagnant relationship, then it is time to think again. Dr. Gottman believes that courtship never stops, even in a marriage lasting forty years!

The solution is to occasionally add in some or all of the following:

  • start a new hobby you are both keen on
  • cook something different
  • try a new weekend activity or venue
  • make an effort to meet new friends

4. You know how to create your own space

Keeping your identity means in practice creating some space and privacy for yourself. Ideally, there will be physical space and time to do this so that the other partner does not feel embarrassed or in the way. So, each can pursue their own friends, hobbies or just chill out. The important thing is not to feel that you are neglecting your responsibilities as a partner. You are both mature enough to understand this is not abandonment. You are, in fact, helping to nurture the relationship.

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5. You know how to grow in a relationship

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Lots of couples exhaust all their possibilities within a few years. The relationship needs to grow. You will need more than a few novelties here. This goes much deeper. Here, you have to deal with conflicts when they arise. Learning how to lower expectations, or to practise more patience and acceptance are great ways to learn from conflicts and see them as an opportunity for growth. This is easier when you are more independent.

6. You realize the need to recharge emotionally

Being less codependent means that you are in charge of your emotions, feelings and perceptions. You are not going to let your partner hijack them!

In practice, this means that you are both able to take time off to recharge your emotional batteries. This makes spending time together afterwards so much more enjoyable. I love the advice that Darlene Lancer gives in her book Codependency for Dummies.

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7. You know how to be flexible

Independence means the freedom to schedule your workload. But when you travel a lot for work and your partner may be left alone for long periods, this can become a problem. You both know that flexibility will be the key to solving this problem. Your independence can really help here because you just know how to be flexible. Compromises can be reached and this can prevent the problem from getting out of hand.

8. You know how to be assertive

“We don’t try to become someone else’s mirror.” – Randy Paterson in The Assertiveness Workbook

If you are both assertive, it does not necessarily mean a clash or conflict. Finding the right dose of give and take is an essential element in being independent. You do not want to be a dictator nor do you want to be a doormat. Basically, you both know what you want and you are able to set the boundaries which reflect your needs and emotional well being.

9. You know not to check up all the time

Once you have established your time off with your friends, try not to check up by sending texts or phoning. There is nothing more annoying when you get these beeps and alerts. Cut it out!

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10. You know what to focus on

“The quality of our life is the quality of our relationships.” – Anthony Robbins.

Being independent means also feeling free to concentrate on your life’s ambition, whatever that is. It may be your work or some sport you love doing. This helps to put things into perspective and is also important for having your own sense of self. Not forgetting that we all want to be supported, cared for and loved. If we succeed, that will be the quality hallmark in our lives.

Featured photo credit: Couple framed/David Amsler via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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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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