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What You Already Know Is Your Biggest Barrier To Happiness

What You Already Know Is Your Biggest Barrier To Happiness

Do you ever think: My biggest barrier to happiness and success is what I don’t know?

Do you ever think: If I could only learn the secret to having great relationships, making more money, or just being happy—I’d be able to achieve those things?

Do you, as a result, read books and blog posts, take workshops, attend webinars, or listen to CDs in order to learn what you need to learn? That’s why the most popular blog posts are usually the ones that offer “Ten Tips to ….” or “15 Ways to ….”

If you have these thoughts and if you often seek more information, you are not alone.  There are millions of people who are trying to improve their lives through more information.

Information is the problem, not the solution.

While learning new things certainly can’t hurt, I disagree that the biggest barrier to happiness and success is what we don’t know.   Our biggest barrier is what we already know.   

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I’m not talking about factual information we’ve learned from books or courses.  I’m talking about what we believe.  A belief is a statement about reality that we feel is true. It is our beliefs about ourselves, people and life—such as I’m not good enough, mistake and failure are bad, life is difficult, relationships don’t work, I’ll never get what I want—that thwart our attempts at achieving happiness.

We act consistently with what we believe to be true.

People who hold these and other similar beliefs experience them as facts, as true as 2+2=4.  As a result, they act consistently with their beliefs.  For example:

If you believe I’m not good enough, you probably will hear a little voice in your mind criticizing whatever you do: “What makes you think that’s good enough?”  That constant question is debilitating.

If you believe mistakes and failure are bad, you probably will avoid doing anything innovative where you could make a mistake.

If you believe life is difficult, you probably will always expect the worst and give up very easily.

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If you believe relationships don’t work, you either will resist them becoming too serious or feel insecure about them even when they seem to be working.

If you believe I’ll never get what I want, you are unlikely to want very much or continue to fight for what you do want if you discover barriers in the way.

Our beliefs—what we are convinced is true—are our biggest barriers.  Therefore, unlearning our negative, limiting beliefs is ultimately more important to our success and happiness than learning something new.

Factual information can be useful.

I’m not saying that we can’t learn anything new that would improve the quality of our lives.  Of course we can.  There are some ways of interacting with people that are more effective than others; there are strategies for making money that are more effective than others; etc.  It is worth learning those things.

I read marketing books all the time to learn how to better get my work out into the world.  I read other types of books to learn more about psychology and the human brain.

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Unlearning has made the biggest difference in my life.

But unlearning my negative beliefs has made more of a difference than any new information I’ve ever learned.  It has enabled me to have a blissful 32-year marriage after two unhappy divorces.  Unlearning my limiting beliefs enabled me to get rid of my depression, which had rendered me miserable for most of my life. I had a hard time committing to anything and saw life as overwhelming.  Eliminating those beliefs made it possible for me to create a business that uses our belief unlearning process to help hundreds of thousands of people, when before I had always felt I was powerless to succeed.

Unlearning versus learning.

My wife Shelly, a Certified Lefkoe Method Facilitator who helps 25 clients a week from around the world unlearn limiting beliefs, tells the story of a client who called her when the client returned from a T. Harv Eker “Millionaire Mind” workshop.

“I’m so excited.  As a result of what I learned in the workshop I bought the summer house of my dreams,” she exclaimed to Shelly.

Shelly was obviously happy for her, but was aware of the work the client had done with her before she attended the workshop.  So Shelly asked, “What did your friends buy?”  “Nothing,” the client admitted.

Shelly opened the client’s file and read several of the beliefs the client had unlearned prior to attending the workshop: Money is scarce and hard to get, You have to save your money for a rainy day, I’m not deserving, and Mistakes and failure are bad.

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Shelly then asked her, “Do you think you would have been able to use what you learned in the workshop and bought the summer house of your dreams if you still had the beliefs you eliminated?” The stunned silence at the other end of the phone line was the answer.

Do some unlearning and see for yourself.

While it is always wise to learn as much as you can, to achieve true happiness and success make your major focus unlearning all that we believe is true … but really isn’t.  Unlearn the negative beliefs that have been sabotaging you.

In an earlier post here at Lifehack I described how the Lefkoe Belief Process could help you unlearn the beliefs that are undercutting your attempts to fulfill your dreams.  Use that process to help you do some unlearning.  I promise it will make a profound difference in your life.

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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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