After I finished writing one of my previous stories about perfectionism “If I Was Perfect, I Wouldn’t Be”, I had a fascinating talk with a close friend about her experience with self-conscious perfectionism.
When she was modelling, she wanted to become the perfect model. She raised the bar so high that she forced herself to be conscious about every little body movement, but still, it left her with the feeling that she wasn’t good enough. This had mentally exhausted her, until she noticed that she performed better when she wasn’t that conscious at all. That’s when she asked the question: How do you become LESS self-conscious?
What first came to my mind was: “Why would you want to be less self-conscious?”
I realised from her question that maybe, just maybe, that the word “self-conscious” has a negative implication in our today’s society. With a negative implication, I mean a lack of self-confidence, self-doubting and self-talking ourselves into anxiety. We create the spot-light effect for ourselves, in which we believe we are the centre of attention. We feel too concerned about what others are thinking or might think of our actions and initiate the behaviour of self-sabotage.
Somehow, this instructs a sense of embarrassment and uncertainty into our minds before taking an action and forces us to stop doing them. This drives the attention from our statement, talk, or action, and directs our focus to what others might be thinking about us as a person.
Before we realise it, self-doubt is born which comes from seeking validation from others rather than looking inward. Then, the standard by which we measure our own value becomes based on the approval of others — making our fear of rejection and disapproval very high. This comes in the form of status, failure, appearance, and even success. Whenever we measure our own value by the opinion of others, we hand over a degree of our self-control. Then we become controlled by the opinion and perception of others.
“The greatest prison that people live in is the fear of what other people think.” — David Icke
Let me know if you have a different view on this. I would love to have more insight.
Self-Consciousness Means Growth
I believe self-consciousness is a good thing. Why? Because I don’t see anything wrong with being conscious of who you are. I understand that it may not feel good or you may not like what you see or feel about yourself, but in there lies an opportunity for growth. An opportunity to look into an area of your life that you may have ignored for a while.
“The key to growth is the introduction of higher dimensions of consciousness into our awareness.” — Lao Tzu
I see self-consciousness as the truth, that leads people to start being more honest with themselves and to others. This will bring forth better relationships and personal health. Too often, we choose to hide, to not speak, to not share the truth. Simply because we are afraid of what we may hear and so we choose to live in constant anxiety instead.
Personally, if someone brought something to my attention that made me more conscious of who I am, I would be sincerely thankful. This doesn’t mean I need to change anything to fit into their standard of being normal; I can still choose to be the original me. As Maya Angelou once said:
“If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.” — Maya Angelou
You Have A Choice
I understand that there are people who experience self-conscious as something bad. I was at the same place for ten years of my life. I judged the present through the eye of the past and saw a totally distorted view of myself and how others saw me.
This is rather self-created than inflicted by others. This negativity becomes the result of some form of emotional non-acceptance. And my question to you is: Would you rather avoid it and be the person who others tell you to be, or are you willing to live with it and accept the person who you are?
Originally published at ye-chen.com on March 2, 2018.