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15 Valuable Lessons That The Pain Of Heartbreak Will Teach You

15 Valuable Lessons That The Pain Of Heartbreak Will Teach You

Finding the silver lining. Turning lemons into lemonade. The rainbow after the storm.

You know them – all the sayings people tell us that are supposed to make us feel better when we face tough times. But here’s the thing, finding a silver lining is darn near impossible when we are so stuck in our emotions and negativity that we can’t see it. The key to getting through pain is to clear away the cobwebs so we can see the potential for future joy in the first place.

When I was widowed unexpectedly at age 31 with a new baby and a stressful corporate job during a crashing economy, I was in the deepest, darkest pit of pity, sadness and anger you can imagine. I was functional and taking care of my daughter, but the foggy thinking prevented me from seeing any sort of potential happiness. It was only when I was able to step outside of myself to see the implications of my mindset, behaviors and attitude on others, my career and my health that I started to see tiny glimmers of hope again.

Only by going through your pain mindfully can you possibly learn any lessons. If you wallow, feel sorry for yourself, complain and victimize yourself, it only perpetuates and prolongs pain. Here are 15 lessons you can learn throughout your journey to help you not only get through pain faster, but minimize future pain when stressful situations happen again.

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1. You will find your true friends.

It’s inevitable that some people will not be there when you need them most. It’s also inevitable that those who belong in your life will be there for you to hold your hand and stand by you as you work through your pain. Know that those who don’t hang around aren’t meant to be in your life. Those who do should be cherished for helping you through your difficult time. Be there for them too.

2. Your body will tell you what it needs.

The power of stress on our health is that the earliest signals that we are going through something painful show up as physical symptoms. Moodiness, headaches, stomach aches, weight issues, insomnia – all of these are the first indicators that we need some physical self-care while we figure out how to heal emotionally. Listen to the signals and take care of yourself by eating right, exercising and finding ways to laugh even when you don’t want to crack a smile.

3. Your goals will become clear.

There’s nothing like life-shattering pain to help you get focused on what is really important to you. Is it really about getting a bigger paycheck or is finding a fulfilling career more important? Is dating another person of the same type the right step or would it be better to be alone for awhile to know yourself first so you make better partner decisions? Big setbacks can lead to huge leaps forward when you look at how the situation could be different so be open-minded and open-hearted during painful times.

4. Your money will have more meaning.

If you’ve experienced financial loss, bankruptcy, job loss or massive debt, you know the toll it can take on your happiness, security and relationships. The best steps during financial pain are to be aware of your money habits and set up a new budgeting plan so you feel more in control. That will immediately lead to more meaningful and clear decisions about what you want your financial future to be like that isn’t filled with lack, debt or worry.

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5. You will know what you value in relationships.

When divorce, death of a partner or a break-up happen, not only do you lose the person, but you lose all of the dreams and plans you shared for your future. This forces you to re-evaluate what was missing in your past relationship so you can choose more wisely in your next one.

6. Your kids will learn from you.

When tough times strike and you have kids, they will watch how you handle YOUR pain and stress to know how to deal with their own pain and stress. Be mindful of how you self-soothe yourself during pain including alcohol and drugs, poor health habits, ways you speak to others and the energy you bring to a situation. If you over-drink, bad mouth and complain when you go through pain, that is how your kids will deal with their own pain when they grow up. Be aware and make the right choices to impact your kids positively.

7. You will become more independent.

No one knows exactly what it’s like to walk in your shoes. When you are hurting, people understand your journey even less. It’s up to you to dig deep to find the strength to get through each day even when you feel like curling into a ball in a dark room all day. Only you have the power to make choices for your life. This power can help boost your self-confidence and your independence when you see yourself moving through pain to a happier future.

8. You will discover that music helps you heal.

There’s nothing like a good sad song when you’re wallowing in pain, but you can also choose inspiring music to encourage you during bad days. It feels good to get a  good cry out every once in awhile and those monster ballads can help make it happen. But more important are the energizing and reflective songs that make you feel good, empowered and strong.

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9. You will finally embrace that mistakes are okay.

We are all only human. We WILL mess up – often and in big ways. Here’s the good thing about this – we’re all messing up together. You aren’t alone. And mistakes are just one more way to rule out a way not to do things to get you closer to the right choices for your life. Instead of crashing and burning when things go bad, accept the failure and bounce back with gusto.

10. You will become more resilient to big and small changes.

The more pain you deal with and get through with positivity, the better you will be at getting through future change and stress. Resilience is a much studied characteristic that seems to be bolstered by a positive attitude, having gone through pain in the past and how you’ve learned from that pain. Know that even if you feel awful now, it is serving you with strength for the future.

11. Your reactions to stress will be more positive.

When we experience bad stuff in life, we can either let it paralyze us into stress, anxiety and worry, or we can use the pain to propel us ahead. It’s up to you to decide how you will respond to stress. Painful situations have the weird tendency to help us get through stress more positively IF we let the lessons show up and follow through on them.

12. You will understand unconditional love.

When we are stressed, we aren’t usually at our best. We are cranky, easily agitated, tired, sick more often and don’t look great either. Those who stand by us even when we are at our worst love us unconditionally. That type of love can be our anchor when painful times happen and help us to love others unconditionally back.

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13. Your pets can be the best medicine.

There is nothing like cuddling up to a furry friend when you need to escape pain. Animals can’t talk back. They don’t expect anything from us except food, potty breaks and cuddles. They are truly the best example of the unconditional love mentioned in point #12. Plus research has shown that pet owners are happier and less stressed because animals boost endorphins which are feel-good chemicals that boost our moods.

14. Travel can open your eyes to new perspectives.

Getting out of your normal routine and heading to a new locale can be extremely therapeutic when you are suffering a painful situation. Seeing other people in new environments engages your brain and body in something fresh and exciting instead of wallowing in the sameness of the pain you are feeling. Get out and explore even if it’s just a new neighborhood nearby.

15. You will appreciate the good times more.

The old saying goes that without a little sadness you don’t appreciate the happy times. If life were just one steady experience of sameness, we truly would not know when a good time is really good. The down times give us a grounding into our human existence while the good times remind us that life is amazing.

There are so many lessons we can learn from pain. The most important one is that we need to acknowledge that there are lessons to be learned in the first place so we can look for them. Every day we go through the stress of heartbreak, loss, change or setbacks is one more day closer to the other side of pain.

SHARE WITH ME: How do you find the lessons in painful situations? What do you do when you’re feeling stressed to help counteract the pain?

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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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