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11 Ways to Live a Life With No Regrets

11 Ways to Live a Life With No Regrets

We all hope to live a life with no regrets – but how many of us do?

Ask yourself this question:

If it were all about to end for you tomorrow – if that meteor out there in space is headed right for us, if that drunk doesn’t stop for the red light – would you have regrets at the way it all turned out?

Many of us have known regret. Some regrets are unavoidable, but sometimes they can take over our lives. As Mick Jagger said:

“The past is a great place and I don’t want to erase it or to regret it, but I don’t want to be its prisoner either.”

And what about the regrets we are in the process of creating today?

Let’s look at 11 things we can do right now so that when we write the final chapter on our own personal story, we can make it a happy ending.

1. First, Celebrate Your Failures

It’s really okay to screw up.

Have you ever watched a hurdler in the Olympics? Have you counted how many hurdles the winner knocks over in that 110 metres? About half of them! They don’t even break stride. Because it’s not about running the perfect race and not knocking over any hurdles, it’s about getting across the line.

It’s the same in football: the only guy who ever makes a mistake is the one involved in the play. So don’t ever regret failing – at least you were giving it a shot.

‘I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that’s why I succeed.’ – Michael Jordan.

2. Claim Your LIfe

You’re the one bearing the consequences of your life – but are you the one living it?

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Do you make your decisions based on your dreams and aspirations – or because it’s what your mother wants, what your father expects, what your husband needs?

Are you always afraid of what others might say about you if you live life your way?

One day life will be gone – imagine how you’ll feel if you get to the end of it and never made any of the important decisions in it. This is something you can change today.

“One’s real life is often the life that one does not lead”
–Oscar Wilde

3. Say Yes or No Today to Your Dreams

Do you have a dream? Are you actively pursuing it – or have you left it for ‘one day’?

One Day is the one day that never comes.

So if you want never to have regrets then make the decision here, now, even before you finish reading this post: either say goodbye to your dream or start pursuing it today. That way you will have consciously made the decision to follow it or abandon it. So go for it – or forever be comforted by your reasons not to, then let go.

Then there will be no regrets.

‘Regret for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regret for the things we did not do that is inconsolable.’
Sydney J. Harris

 

4. Don’t Let Your Kids Grow Up Without You

We need to spend time at work if we’re going to succeed.

But we also have to remember what we’re doing for. Kids are not kids for very long – and if you miss them growing up, you won’t ever get a second chance.

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‘Your children love you, they want to play with you. How long do you think that lasts? Soon Jack may not even want you to come to his games. We have a few special years with our children, when they’re the ones that want us around. After that you’re going to be running after them for a bit of attention. It’s so fast, Peter. It’s a few years, and it’s over. And you are not being careful. And you are missing it.’

– Moira Panning, in “Hook.”

5. Close Doors

Maybe you did have your heart set on playing for the Boston Red Sox if it wasn’t for that stupid motorbike accident when you were 18.

Maybe you did just lose the love of your life and you’ve got good reason to be sitting on the couch with that bottle and that Barry Manilow break-up song playing on a loop.

There are some regrets we just have to live with.

But unless you get out and try again, you’ll never know if there wasn’t something better, will you?

‘When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.’
–Alexander Graham Bell

6. Learn From Your Mistakes, Don’t Regret Them

Have you noticed that people who regret their mistakes also tend to make those same mistakes again and again?

Regretting a mistake is not the same as learning from it.That’s why we repeat them until the lesson sinks in.

‘The only thing I regret about my past is the length of it. If I had to live my life again I’d make all the same mistakes – only sooner.’
Tallulah Bankhead

7. Be Afraid of Being Afraid

Before we make a decision, most of us think: What if?

What if I take that job overseas and I don’t like it, or I don’t like the country? What if I ask that girl out and she says no? What if I fail? What if people laugh at me?

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Then years later we’re bored with our job, and we wished we’d seen more of the world before we had our family. Or we got to a reunion and met that girl we thought was out of our league, and she’s married to someone else, and she tells you she always liked you and never understood why you never asked her out.

The only ‘what if?’ to be scared of is this one: what if you get to the end of your life and realise you’ve wasted it?

‘As you grow older, you’ll find the only things you regret are the things you didn’t do.’
Zachary Scott

8. Stop Thinking You Can Tell God What to Do

Many of our regrets come from life not working out just the way we planned it. We stick with a go-nowhere relationship, with a job that makes us miserable, because hey, we had our fixed our sights on him since high school and also, we always said we’d  be a lawyer one day.

Because we’ve decided that life has to be this way or we won’t be happy.

And we blinker ourselves, losing the chance to be with someone better, to change direction and find a job we actually love.

‘We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.’
— Joseph Campbell

9. No Sage Has Rage

If you’re like me, your comebacks come back half an hour after you need them. But that’s not always such a bad thing. How many times has saying something angry in the heat of the moment burned off a friend, a lover? You can take back a faulty toaster but you can’t ever take back an angry word.

‘Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.’
Ambrose Bierce

10. Don’t Hide Your Feelings

The greatest regret you can have is having someone leave your life forever and you haven’t told them how you really feel.

‘I love you.’
‘Thank you.’
‘I’m sorry.’

Is there someone you would like to say one of these things to? Do it now – you can never possibly know if this is not the last chance you’ll ever have to do it.

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‘The regret of my life is that I have not said ‘I love you’ often enough.’
Yoko Ono

11. And Most of All, Remember – It’s Not Over Yet

Even if you have a barrow-load of regrets right now, do remember one thing.

It’s not over.

No matter how many mistakes you’ve made in your life, you only have to get it right once.

Don’t look at what might have been – keep your eyes on the prize.

“A man is not old until his regrets take the place of his dreams”
–Yiddish Proverb

So now you’ve finished reading this, you have a choice.

You can go back to your busy, busy life and carry on as if nothing has happened.

Or you can call someone up and say what’s on your mind, you can think about going after that job, you can call up that girl, you can start walking that Appalachian trail.

Because if you don’t, you may really regret it later.

A life of no regrets. It could start right here, right now.

‘Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.’

~Steve Jobs

Featured photo credit: Bigstock via bigstock-Happy-group-of-friends-family-43459618.jpg

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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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