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Suffering from a break-up? Six ways to turn your pain into gold.

Suffering from a break-up? Six ways to turn your pain into gold.

Break-ups can be painful. That’s why there are so darn many songs written about them.

Are you going through one right now? I bet you are feeling one (or more) of these feelings:

  • Angry at your ex- for letting you down.
  • Guilty for hurting your ex-.
  • Worried that you are making a mistake.
  • Sad that you failed.
  • Jealous that your ex- might be with someone else
  • Afraid that you will never find love that lasts.
  • Disgusted that you ever wasted your time on their sorry self.

When I left my ex-fiance, I felt most of these at various stages. Maybe one week would be a worried week, the next a sad week. Which one are you feeling right now?

With all of these negative feelings swirling around, it’s tempting to rue the day that you ever got into the relationship in the first place.

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But that would be a mistake. Because the truth is that each relationship is a key part of you “growing up” to become an adult in the world of love. They’re like classes toward your master’s degree in love, and then one day, when you have mastered the material, you get to graduate and have “the one.” Just like school, some classes are more fun than others, and no one likes finals. But the end result is worth it.

So save yourself some break-up angst and get busy figuring out what exactly is being taught in the curriculum of this ex-relationship. Here are some possibilities.

1. You sand down your rough edges.

Let’s face it, each one of us has aspects of our personalities that make us difficult to date. For me, I can be hyper-critical of my partner when he doesn’t do things my way. And, in case you were wondering, nit-picking does NOT lend itself well to a happy relationship. My criticalness contributed to several failed relationships until I finally learned how to get it in check and instead accept my partner as an equal. While learning this lesson certainly took a lot of time and heartache, it was well worth it to have my current relationship as great as it is.

What part of you needs to be tamed in order for you to be a good partner?

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2. You learn how to “do” relationships right.

After a few beers at a scientific conference, a professor in my Ph.D. program once told me that I should only date men who had been married once before. The first marriage, he claimed, was to figure out how to “do” marriage, so that you could get ready for your “real” marriage to your second spouse. While I disagree with much of his philosophy, I do agree that relationships take practice. Like making pancakes for the first time, you are likely to botch a few attempts before you figure out how it’s done. A failed relationship is the best way to learn what doesn’t work, and how to build a better one the next time around.

3. You learn what you are looking for.

Think back on the first person you had a crush on. Do you think you would have a crush on that person if you met them today? The answer is likely “no” and that is a very good thing. With each failed relationship, you learn something about who you are and what is important to you in a partner.

What did you learn from your last relationship?

4. You figure out your failure rituals.

As much as we may hate it, being alive means failing at a bunch of things. You wanted the cool kid to ask you to prom and he didn’t. You applied for a great job and didn’t get it. You wanted to fit into your size 4 jeans by memorial day and didn’t make it. There is a skill to picking yourself up from these failures and trying again. I recommend designing a “failure ritual” that is your go-to whenever you fail at something. It can involve things like listening to your favorite mourning songs, calling a trusted friend, writing a eulogy for the “death” of whatever you failed at, or taking a period of “down time” to fully process what happened.

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What will you design your failure ritual to be?

5. You learn how to tell the difference between fact and fantasy.

My friend recently suffered from a break-up in which she put her man on a pedestal. She found him to be so well-educated, successful, interesting and funny, that she reasoned he really was the perfect man. She chose to ignore the things he did that were less-than-stellar, like refusing to meet her family and never really giving her his full attention. But after the break-up, she could see him for what he really was: a decent man who was simply not that into her. Use break-ups as a wake-up call to help you learn where you tend to dupe yourself so that you can enter the next relationship fully aware.

Where do you tend to live in fantasy land?

6. You see that life can be impermanent, and that is OK.

Maybe you thought that this relationship was forever, and it turned out that it wasn’t. That’s OK. That’s life. Deaths and break-ups are good reminders to cherish the people you have in your life right now, because you never know what tomorrow will bring.

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Who are you taking for granted right now in your life?

Break-ups can be painful, but if you compare the pain to all that you can gain from them, you will see that they are worth it. As soon as you feel comfortable, start to do an autopsy on the relationship. What were you supposed to learn from that relationship? What gems make it all worth it?

Write a note and share!

Love,

Samantha

Featured photo credit: Un-married/Paul Moody via flickr.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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