How Self-Consciousness May Be Helping or Hurting You

letting go of self-consciousness Image of woman standing in a rock heart looking like she is feeling happy and free

We all have a certain amount of self-consciousness, but whether you are tapping into yours in a healthy way or not is something worth examining if you want to be genuinely happy.

When we think of self-consciousness, we usually think of the awkward teenage phase when we felt like everything we said, or did, or wore, was under the judging eyes and ears of everyone else.

Self-consciousness lessens as we get older. Maybe we’ve learned to be more comfortable being seen and heard over the decades. Maybe we’ve trained ourselves to stay within the lines, so we don’t attract any unwanted scrutiny from others. Maybe we’ve gotten to an age where we are either less aware or less afraid of judging eyes and ears.

Whatever the reasons, there is still usually enough unhealthy self-consciousness floating through our minds to stop us from being totally ourselves, completely authentic.

Why should we care?

When you feel a certain kind of (often subtle) dissatisfaction with your life, but you’re can’t quite pinpoint the exact cause, it’s often that you aren’t fully expressing your truest self. You’ve diluted and trained-away your full authenticity – often out of self-consciousness. You rewired your natural inclinations to avoid the comments, disapproval, or potential confrontation of others.

Your self-consciousness has taught you what is acceptable, or “normal”, and expected behavior. And not just behavior, but almost everything else as well. What you wear, the color of your hair, the music you listen to, the food you buy, the home you live in, the car you drive, the job you have, the expectations you have of your kids, and of yourself.

They all boil down to how self-conscious you are.

“Everytime you’re given a choice between disappointing someone else and disappointing yourself, your duty is to disappoint that someone else. Your job, throughout your entire life, is to disappoint as many people as it takes to avoid disappointing yourself.” – Glennon Doyle

The sense of self you’ve developed based on the accumulated views, opinions, and comments of others throughout your lifetime.

But that’s not true for her.

You say phooey. You have a friend who isn’t self-conscious at all. She wears a bikini at 50 and couldn’t care less what chub she’s got hanging out here and there. She doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

Bravo to her for her bathing suit boldness – but she is still self-conscious. She’s just tapping into a different side of her self.

Yep, we have at least at least two sides of self.

We have the self that is connected to our ego. That self fears judgment. The ego self identifies by comparison to others. It decides who we think we are based on fear, worry, self-doubt, unworthiness, anxiety, and on comparing ourselves to others. i.e. She’s braver than I am wearing that swimsuit. I’m not as bold as her.

But we all also have the self within us that identifies with something greater.

Cue the unicorns.

I’ll call this side of our self – our truest self. We all have the capacity in our truest self to be brave, bold, strong, fierce, courageous, confident… whatever we wish to be.

“Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.” – Brene Brown

Our truest self is connected to infinite magic. Before you start thinking of unicorns and faeries, I’m calling it magic because it is a non-denomination word that imparts a feeling of charm, benevolence, and enchantment. What you choose to call that magic part of your self is personal to you. [Could be God, the Creator, the Universe, Energy, Divinity, Consciousness, whatevayawant!]

It’s the part of ourselves that we all have and is connected to our heart and soul. It makes us who we are. It’s what is under all the things we’ve learned to be based on the expectations of our parents, our loved ones, out teachers, our partners, media, society.

So, how we think and act is actually (a mostly unconscious) choice.

And our self-consciousness can either help us or hurt us. It depends on whether we are connecting to our ego self or to the magic – our truest self.

If we become more aware of which self we are tapping into, it could change our mood, our whole outlook, our potential, our whole life!

When did the disconnect start?

No matter how you see yourself now, there have been times in your life when you were directly connected to your truest self.

Maybe it’s been a while since you allowed yourself to feel it. For sure you were connected when you were a child. Children don’t learn the unhealthy, constricting, self-strangulating side of self-consciousness until they are a bit older.

That’s when our worldview expanded and we began to take the words and actions of those around us to heart. We let it shape our previously free channel of self-expression.

We learned to follow the rules, color within the lines, wait our turn, and to conform.

Some rules and conformity help us all get along with each other. They keep us safe and orderly. But there are many unspoken rules we learned that hurt us. Rules that forced us to see ourselves from the eyes and judgments of others, forming our sense of ego self. Forming our ego side’s self-consciousness.

As the ego side of self grows stronger, our truest self can get lost, muffled, and buried.

And there is nothing that can fix that feeling of energetic disconnect other than rediscovering and nourishing our inner, most authentic, truest self.

Welcoming her back to take her place at the table. It’s the only way to live your best life. To live with the longest term, deepest, most profound, joy and satisfaction.

The you that feels subtly discontent, disconnected, and intimidated by your self-consciousness is the just the story of you that you’ve been telling yourself. It’s usually made up of years of other people’s comments and actions, and not based on who you really are.

Dig out your truest self.

She might be buried down and deep, but the good news is, there are loads of ways to unearth your truest self and reignite the spark of your innate and infinite inner source of magic.

Give yourself permission.

Start by giving yourself permission to explore. Adventure into what you may feel silly about, but feel almost magnetically drawn to. The things and activities you find yourself thinking about again and again, and you’re not even sure why.

You can’t rationally explain why you are desperate to buy a paint set since you haven’t painted since third grade.

You keep browsing at a long, tiered-cotton, lavender sundress online, but you’re telling yourself it’s not practical, too expensive, too difficult to wash, and you don’t know where you’d wear it to – but you keep going back to look at it.

Your truest self is fighting against your ego self-consciousness which is telling you that you will look silly in it. Who will win?

“Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” – Aristotle

These are simple examples, but I think you get the idea. These can be little signals from your truest self about what lights you up. What feels right and true. What you are drawn to and can’t explain is often what you desire when you are not being ego-self conscious!

Journaling is another powerful means for digging out your magic, your truest self. Using the right prompts and building a journaling habit (just ten minutes a day!) can help you heal, unblock, get unstuck and rediscover who you truly are and what you most deeply desire.

Knowledge and awareness are power.

You don’t have to be afraid to know yourself.

Just because you realize that you’d truly like to have pink hair, wear blue nail polish, dress in tie-dye maxi dresses, divorce your partner, and go on a spiritual retreat in Nepal… doesn’t mean you have to take those actions. It’s so powerful in and of itself to just to uncover the truest, most inspired version of you.

You might decide to try the blue polish (I did!) and eventually love yourself enough to book a weekend spiritual retreat (maybe an hour from home and not in Nepal).

“Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” – Coco Chanel

You will begin to feel differently, in a good way. You will find unexpected gains, personal satisfaction, growth, self-worthiness, and blatant joy as you take even tiny steps toward being conscious of, and nourishing, your truest self!

You have choices right now.

Cheers to becoming more aware of whether you are living out of unhealthy self-consciousness. And to taking healthy self-care actions to get reconnected to your inner magic, your truest self. – Marlene



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