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14 Signs of a Truly Great Father

14 Signs of a Truly Great Father

When I was younger, I thought being a dad was pretty easy. As I grew up, I realized what an amazing man my father is, because he made such a difficult job look like a walk in the park. While as of yet I have no experience in fatherly ways, I’ve learned from the best, so in that respect I feel qualified to explain some of the reasons great fathers are, well…great.

1. They listen to their children.

I don’t just mean they let their kids chat away while smiling and nodding. Anyone can do that. A great father will dive into the silly story his son is telling about some cartoon, creating conversational points around a topic he would not be talking about at all if it wasn’t with his own child. He’ll also be there for the tough conversations when his children need a shoulder to cry on, and be ready with actionable advice on how to move forward. Great fathers know their kids inside and out, because they’ve spent their parenthood listening to what their children have to say.

2. They’re interested in their children’s interests.

The best fathers take a genuine interest in what their children like to do. All fathers would absolutely love it if their children took up similar hobbies, but great dads let their kids pursue their own interests. Not only do they let their kids follow their own dreams, but great fathers also become interested in these dreams as well. They seek out information about their children’s hobbies on their own time, so they can spend more quality time with their kids. Great fathers take time away from their own interests in favor of watching their children thrive.

3. They care deeply.

They don’t just act as a shoulder to cry on, either. Amazing fathers preoccupy themselves with their children’s well-being, and take their kids’ burdens on themselves. Their mood depends on their children’s. How can they enjoy themselves if they know their kid is upset? On the other hand, on their worst days, how can a father be upset when he sees how happy his children are? Not only do great fathers care about their own family, but they also care for everyone, and everything, around them as well.

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4. They show they care deeply.

The best fathers drop the stoic act immediately, and only seldom pick it back up. My favorite part of A Christmas Story is the look on the father’s face when Ralphie finally gets that Red Ryder BB Gun. Throughout the whole movie, you got the feeling his father was a strict, no-nonsense type of guy—that is, until you see how happy he is to have made his son so ecstatic. The mark of a great father is the ability to let down his guard, and show his children just how much he cares.

5. They help their kids find the answers to their questions.

I’ll never forget this moment, and whenever I think about it I hope that this man was an uncle or relative without any kids of his own: At a local destruction derby event (which I was at for some reason I can’t remember), a young child behind me kept asking questions about the trucks and cars on the field. The adult with him eventually said “You sure do ask a lot of questions,” and that was the last time I heard the child speak.

If I was in that man’s shoes, I would have immediately taken the child’s hand, brought him down to the pit area, and found a friendly mechanic to answer those innumerable questions the boy had. By doing so, a father can not only get the answers his kid is looking for, but teach his child how to find answers when they aren’t sure of them.

6. They let their children’s imagination thrive.

Just like a father should guide their children toward the answers for questions they may have, he should also allow his child to spend time in wonderment. Remarking that a child is “just being silly” will shut them off to their own imagination, which at one point they may never recover. On the other hand, a father who provides a cardboard box, scissors, tape, and paint to their child will be absolutely amazed at what his kid can come up with in a short period of time. Great fathers provide endless opportunities for their children to expand their minds.

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7. They read, and read to their children.

One day when I was six years old, I ran into my parents bedroom at 6:30 in the morning crying because I had just read that Dr. Seuss had died. I was six. And I habitually read the morning paper. I’ll give you one guess where I picked up that habit from. Although my mother was usually the one to read a bedtime story to me, my father has always read the morning paper, and could always be caught reading a sports or fishing magazine throughout his day off. By doing so, he modeled the importance of reading for a variety of purposes to his (incredibly amazing) children every day of his life.

8. They handle the dirty work.

I’m sure my wife will hold me to this when we have kids in a few years, but here it goes: great fathers have no qualms about changing diapers, cleaning up vomit, or handling any type of grossness related to their children. They can look past the disgusting bodily fluids and know that not only are they helping their beloved wives, but they’re also bonding with their babies.

Cut forward about 12 years. Great fathers will also be able to talk to their growing children about adolescence, and have all the difficult “chats” that come up around that age. Again, while it might not be the most comfortable thing in the world, awesome fathers will push past the discomfort knowing that it will benefit their children in the long run.

9. They exhibit self-control.

Super dads never lose control. They might be seething, upset, or even frightened on the inside, but great fathers never let their kids know it. They deal with issues in as calm and collected a manner as possible, and keep their negative feelings to themselves knowing that a break in their armor could lead their children to even worse fright. Fathers who act this way are the reason children brag about them to their friends: their fathers’ actions have allowed them to truly think their dad is the most amazing person in the entire world.

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10. They put away childish things.

Becoming a father means losing a part of yourself, while gaining a lot more. It’s no longer acceptable to go out to the bar with your friends until question mark o’clock. It’s no longer an option to spend Saturday afternoon in your underwear watching ESPN. And it’s definitely not okay to blast Sublime in your car on the first day of summer anymore.

But, the best fathers know that there is no point in drinking until you can’t stand up when you could be watching over your child as he sleeps peacefully. They would rather get up and go fishing at six a.m. than stay in bed until ten. They would rather see their kid dance in the backseat to some silly kids’ song than blow out their eardrums listening to SoCal ska. The best fathers know that letting go of a past life can lead to bigger and better things.

11. They put others before themselves.

Okay, I have to use my own father as an example again. Every year for Christmas, he’d always joke that “this year would be the year he got that bass boat.” He easily could have gone out and bought a boat at any given time throughout my childhood, but it would have been at the expense of a family vacation, or a few years’ worth of “just because” presents for his children and wife. That never mattered to him. Being a great father, he constantly put his own interests on the back burner, in favor of his family members’ happiness. (By the way, he finally bought one a few years ago :-D)

12. They provide for their families.

The greatest fathers aren’t the billionaires who can buy whatever their kids want. They’re not the ones who can fly their family to the Bahamas every winter for two weeks. I’m not saying those who can do these things aren’t great fathers—just that these examples aren’t the only great fathers out there.

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The man who works two jobs so his family can eat; the man who works the graveyard shift but manages to pick his kid up from school every day; the man who hates his boss but goes to work with a smile every day so his family has a roof over their head—these are the great fathers. The ones that know that no matter what hardship their going through, they’d rather go through them than see their family suffer.

13. They’re always there when needed.

We talked about dads being a shoulder to cry on, but there’s more to it than that. Great fathers will absolutely drop whatever they’re doing to support their children. He just lay down after a hard day’s work, and his kid needs a ride to soccer practice? No problem. His boss asks if he could stay late on the day of his daughter’s recital? No can do. Even if he knows he won’t be able to get a nap in later, or that his boss will be on his case tomorrow, a great father never disappoints his children, no matter what.

14. They truly want all of it.

The best fathers know there is absolutely nothing more rewarding than everything involved in being a father. No amount of money, possessions, nor any other accomplishment can mean more than raising a son or daughter that you can be proud of. He may have to change who he is, but he welcomes the change with open arms. The best fathers have waited for the day they became a dad since they were young, and have simply been waiting for the right moment.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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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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