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20 Things You Really Don’t Need to Feel Guilty About

20 Things You Really Don’t Need to Feel Guilty About

The next time you’re about to blurt out the words “I’m sorry,” stop yourself. Did your actions really justify those feelings of guilt you’re experiencing? Probably not. Indeed, if your actions sound anything like the ones I’m listing below, you really have nothing to apologize for!

1. Declining a social call.

Sometimes, you just want to be left alone, even when a friend wants to hang out. But, more often than not, we guilt ourselves into either attending that social event, or feeling depressed over having let our buddy down. It’s time to choose the third option: enjoying what you want for a change, and not letting others’ opinions affect that.

2. Telling people “no.”

It’s hard to turn people down, especially if you don’t like displeasing other folks. But sometimes, you just gotta do it. Whether it’s shooing away a solicitor at the door, or saying no to an acquaintance who asks for your last piece of gum, sometimes you have to draw the line.

3. Giving yourself a break.

Most people feel like they don’t work as hard as they actually do, which leads to many guilty thoughts entering their minds whenever they’re on a break or vacation. But here’s a fact: you deserve a respite. You shouldn’t beat yourself up for giving yourself a day or two to do what you want.

4. Holding a door open incorrectly.

There’s a ton of weird social protocols that exist around opening doors for other people. It’s usually seen as a courtesy, but, more often than not, something goes wrong.

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You know what I’m talking about. You’ll kindly hold open the door for someone, and they’ll either take an inordinately long amount of time to reach you, or you’ll mistime your gesture, and accidentally slam the door on them while they’re walking through.

It’s time to stop being so hard on yourself. You went into the whole process with good intentions; just because it went down in an awkward way doesn’t mean you should feel bad about your attempt!

5. Not checking your email.

With the advent of the smartphone, it can feel like you’re obligated to check your emails and messages for important memos every few minutes. All this does is spike your stress levels. Instead, check your email at specified, spaced out times during the day, and give yourself some breathing room.

6. Your living situation.

It can be easy to feel guilty about where and how you’re living, especially if you are being judged about it by another. The truth is that only you know what’s best for you. There’s no reason to feel bad about what works for you.

7. Telling people off.

Sometimes, you have to stand your ground. I’m not saying that you need to be a jerk, just that you shouldn’t be afraid to let people know when they’ve wronged you. Don’t feel guilty about preventing others from taking advantage of you.

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8. Not pleasing those you care for.

Whether it be your mom, dad, or boss, sometimes you can’t please everybody. It’s important therefore to not feel guilty about the times that you’ve disappointed someone you care about. Remember that you’re your own person, and that your outlook on life shouldn’t be based on others’ opinions.

9. Binging on Netflix.

People (and I’ve seen this in myself and others) generally get this hollow look in their eyes after binging on Netflix, as if they’ve done something unspeakable. Stop it. There’s no reason to feel bad about providing yourself with some entertainment, even if it is for hours on end.

10. Your food choices.

I know that certain kinds of foods are called “guilty pleasures,” but really, if you enjoy them then that’s all that matters. You shouldn’t let feelings of guilt drive what you eat.

11. Your career goals.

Misinformation is rampant, so don’t judge your career goals on what other folks say, and don’t change them out of a sense of guilt. Do your own research, and pick whatever feels right to you.

12. Your personal life choices.

Whether or not you choose to find a girlfriend or boyfriend, get married, and have kids, you don’t have to feel bad about whatever you decide to do. You shouldn’t be guilted into living your life a certain way.

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13. Your political views.

Whether you think of yourself as a conservative or a liberal, you shouldn’t get down on yourself just because someone criticizes your point of view.

14. Being single.

So what if you currently aren’t in a relationship? Don’t let others guilt you into feeling bad about that. Instead, take the opportunity to do more with the alone time that you have.

15. Your religious views.

Whether you are devout or an atheist, you shouldn’t let public or family opinion make you feel guilty about what works best for you. If you want to make a change, do it for your own reasons, not theirs.

16. Not accepting a friend request.

Don’t feel bad about declining a friend request from an acquaintance on Facebook. If you want to keep certain things private, that’s your right, and they probably won’t even notice.

17. Your imperfections.

So what if you’ve got a crooked nose or one leg that’s longer than the other. They’re what make you a unique person! You don’t have to apologize about what makes you different to other people.

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18. Not being able to answer a question.

Nobody knows everything. We all have gaps in our knowledge, and when you find one yours, don’t feel guilty about it. Just take it as an opportunity to learn more!

19. Spending money.

Now, you shouldn’t go too overboard, but it’s very unhealthy to beat yourself up about every single dime you spend. In the long run, as long as you haven’t spent an exorbitant amount on something frivolous, it won’t matter anyways. What really matters is that you’re happy with what you purchased, and the reasons that you did so.

20. Sending someone a late response.

Sometimes life takes over, and we can’t respond to a text or Facebook message for a couple days. There’s no need to apologize to that person, you’re busy and you have a life of your own! Best of all, they probably won’t notice as they too have a busy life.

Are there a few things in life that you used to feel guilty about, but now no longer do? Please share your stories in the comments below!

Featured photo credit: A young woman is sitting by the water’s edge in a harbour via shutterstock.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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