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8 Things That Stress You Out That You Should Ignore

8 Things That Stress You Out That You Should Ignore

If you find yourself overwhelmed and stressed out consistently, you might actually be a victim of your own thoughts/decisions. There are many things that can cause stress, but here are eight things that can stress you out that you should simply ignore.

Negative People In Your Life

Commonly referred to as “da hatas”, these people will criticize you every chance they get. Especially when you try something a little different, or you dare to challenge the status quo. In a world where it’s easy to make Facebook friends, but not so easy to make real connections, it can be incredibly hard to “dump” your negative friends. In most cases, you can sort the problem out by ignoring their negative input, and if you realize that’s all they have to offer, ignoring them completely and stopping spending time with them.

The Opinions Of Strangers

Something that can be a rather overwhelming source of stress, is the prospect of the opinions of strangers. Typically this concerns people the most during high school, but many keep being haunted by this concept throughout their twenties, or even their entire lives.

Not only do the opinions of strangers not matter at all, it’s unlikely they even care enough about you to make up one about you. Sure they may look at your fancy suit, and your fancy car, and think “he seems rich” or “oh great, another wealthy douche moved into my neighborhood” but it’s unlikely they’re going to dwell on you for any amount of time after that.

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You can take solace in the fact that even if you’re about to speak to a large group of strangers, no matter how badly you flop, they will likely forget about you completely at some point during the next hour. Another thing that can help to remember, is that the most visible parts of our society are the extremes, the very best, and the very worst. Sure the only speeches you see online are either amazing or mindblowingly terrible and hilarious fails, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t millions of average speeches in buried in there somewhere.

What Your Parents (or Others) Think Is Best For You

This can be a tough one, as your parents will often use the “life experience” card, and many times rightfully so. (Other times they are just plain wrong.) But even if they are right, in life, it’s important to have your own failures and reach your own conclusions, not always simply receiving and following guidance from “more experienced individuals”. Don’t let what your parents think you should be doing stress you out while you’re out there doing what is best for you at this time.

If they are always on your case, and getting in the way of your work/project/studies, you can always let them in on your secret (fake or real) back-up plan to do what they want you to do, if your current endeavor fails.

Your Ideals

If you’re doing any kind of creative work, it’s easy to get stuck, never feeling quite ready to release it, or move on to the next project, because it’s “just not right.” Ira Glass describes this problem as “the gap”, between how you feel good creative work should be, and your current ability. Watch this video to help you overcome this tendency.

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And if you’re stressed out about not being the person you want to be, don’t. Nobody is their own ideal person. Even the greatest people you can think of had their own flaws. Either you learn to accept them, or you choose to slowly tackle one area at a time, and focus your energy towards improvement rather than worrying.

Or if you’re one of those people that have a 100% clear idea of what your perfect partner looks like.

Resistance

Sometimes things are difficult. Sometimes you keep running into barrier after barrier after barrier, and you can’t seem to get into any sort of acceptable pace. Instead of focusing on the barriers, and indeed, expecting more of them and letting that stress you out, focus solely on the process of overcoming them and learning from every experience. Instead of getting stuck in an “Oh God why did this happen again??” pattern of thought, instead immediately think “How can I overcome this problem? Have I run into a similar problem before?” And focus your energy on moving forward.

Your Expectations

It’s funny how your expectations of something stressful happening can be almost as stressful as something stressful happening. And while it’s healthy to remain realistic, and be open to possibilities, it’s counterproductive to remain overly focused on worst-case scenarios you cannot prevent or do anything about, as it will only cause stress and is unlikely to yield any valuable insights. Instead quickly consider a few things that could go wrong where countermeasures are available, take the countermeasures and move forward.

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Another thing that can cause stress, is expecting something to go well, or a certain way, only to experience that it doesn’t. For everyday matters, it can be better to try to expect nothing, or as much of a neutral result as possible, and focus on enjoying the process instead.

Your Self-Criticism

Now don’t get me wrong, a certain amount of self-critique is necessary to remain sane. But after a point, it can not only become a dominant source for stress, it can lead to a downward spiral towards depression. While having the self-insight to realize when you’ve messed up is good, things start to turn bad when you dwell on those mistakes, and then infer that you have some deep character flaw that is causing you to make this mistake, and similar ones, earlier. Of course, the second you start believing that this character flaw exists, it becomes more and more apparent, (as it becomes easier and easier to use it as an excuse to make bad choices). The most obvious example is laziness. Half a generation is crippled by their self-affirmed belief that they are too lazy to go out and actually do things. And because they’ve told themselves so many times, it’s no longer debatable. You can’t even suggest to these people that they have the potential to change, because it’s simply “part of who they are”.

Thankfully, avoiding this is rather straight forward. When reflecting on mistakes, accept the blame when the fault is yours, but don’t try to conceptualize the flaws in your character that lead to this mistake. And always remember to challenge any negative conclusions you reach about yourself. If you find yourself thinking “I’m just lazy!.” Simply ask this: “Am I really? Has there never been a time when I have proven to be the exact opposite?” It can be hard to stay objective when you’re in a bad mood, but give yourself some time. Think of a few examples and avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy of “laziness”.

Worry About Being Stressed

If you feel that you’re too stressed all the time, it can become a source for more worry and stress. Some studies even suggest that the adverse effects of stress come mostly from the belief that stress is harmful for you. (Watch this video.) So if you have a rather stressful job, or life in general, learn to welcome it as a boost of energy, to join hands with it and become friends, and you will not only likely feel less stressed/worried in your free time, but you can reduce the negative health effects that many associate with prolonged periods of stress.

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Although there are many more things you can obsess over and stress yourself out, I think we’ve established a few ways you can deal with this tendency and reduce your stress through conscious choices, and conscious thoughts.

Featured photo credit: Stefan Neuweger via flickr.com

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Ragnar Miljeteig

Ragnar is a passionate writer who blogs about personal development at Lifehack.

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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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