“What are they thinking of me? Do I have something in my teeth? Am I too short for this skirt, too Jewish for this school?”
Self-consciousness isn’t just painful, it prevents us from doing a good job. The more self-conscious we are, the worse we perform because we aren’t connected to our authentic selves. We aren’t in flow because we’re focused on other people and what they think, not what we’re doing.
The more anxiously self-focused we are, the less present we are. And the less present we are, the less of our true selves we bring to the table. This stops us from enjoying the moment, which stops us from truly finding joy and peace in our lives.
The truth about what people think about you
“The reality is that people just aren’t thinking about you as much as you think they are – even when you are actually the center of attention,” writes Amy Cuddy in Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. “And if they are, there is nothing you can do about it anyway. All you can do is hit the ball.”
She used the example of a professional baseball player. The guy who pitches in a major league game is the center of attention, isn’t he? All eyes are on him, right?
Wrong. A lot of people are checking Facebook or sipping their beers or taking selfies with their friends – and they miss more pitches than they realize. “Oh, I missed that!” they say. “What just happened?”
Sure, many fans are watching the pitcher and even making unhelpful remarks about his throws…but the reality is that people aren’t paying that much attention.
Even when we’re literally in the spotlight, many people aren’t even paying attention! Audience members fall asleep during plays, students daydream during lectures, writers mentally rewrite blog posts during phone conversations.
Can you picture yourself on the Jumbotron?
“When you’re up to bat, you walk out and see the Jumbotron,” says a ball player in Presence. “It shows a huge picture of your face, your name, your batting average, and other stats.”
Wow! Talk about pressure. That ballplayer described it as feeling like a heavy weight – like everyone in the stands is looking at his stats and evaluating him. He said it’s not just a bad feeling, it’s also very distracting.
How would you feel about that? I can’t even imagine, to be honest. I thought playing the flute in a duet at a recital was hard (which I shared in Blossoming on Stage When You’re Terrified) – I can’t fathom my stats on a Jumbotron.
If a pitcher can Blossom on the field, so can you! Ball players feel the pressure even though they love the game. They are just as vulnerable to self-consciousness as you are…and yet they perform.
Sometimes they even hit home runs. And then not only is everyone watching, they are jumping up and down and cheering.
A tip for Blossoming despite self-consciousness
You are at the center of your universe.
Because you are at the center of your universe, you think you are at the center of other people’s universes. But you’re not.
Guess who is at the center of other people’s universes? They are.
The next time you feel self-conscious, take a deep breath. Thank God your photo and stats aren’t displayed on a Jumbotron in an stadium filled with thousands of people. And know that even when you are in the spotlight, people are paying far less attention to you than you think.
And allow yourself to Blossom.
She Blossoms This Week
4 Ways to Get Out When You’re Stuck in a Rut – Imagine how amazing you’ll feel when you discover that getting out of a rut isn’t as hard as you think! Yes, you were stuck in a rut for some time…but not anymore. No, it won’t be as easy as eating ice cream and bon bons on your sofa in front of Netflix while surfing Facebook…but it will be worth it.
How to Find Your Dream Job – 5 Simple Steps – Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy? These 5 steps to finding your dream job will help you clarify where you’d happily work today, tomorrow, and forevermore.
How to Stop Playing Mind Games in Your Relationship – You know you and your partner are playing mind games in your relationship (and not the good kind of brain games, either!). Now you need to learn how to stop the control and manipulation, and start relating to each other honestly and authentically.
A Few Random Comments From Readers
Best Jobs for Introverts and People Who Like to Be Alone – “My dream job is working with animals,” says Kathy. “I never went to vet school, which is something I regret, but now I work in a vet clinic kennel. It doesn’t pay a lot, but I’m willing to give up high pay for a job I love and can live on.”
Liberal Wife, Conservative Husband? How to Make Peace at Home – “With this election so heated, I’m seeing a very ugly side of my husband,” says A. “I’d never have even considered marrying someone like this if he had these views when we met 16 years ago. But I will look for the lessons in it. I can’t wait for this election to end!! OK rant over. Thanks for the article.”
What to Say When Your Boyfriend Asks to Borrow Money – “This article (and my parents’ past advice) is really helping me navigate this sticky situation and giving me the courage to say no to my boyfriend’s request for a loan,” says Bree.
How to Decide if You Should Give Your Dog Away – “Do you believe dogs feel abandoned when they are rehomed?” asks Gwen. “Breaks my heart.”
Premarital Questions – What You Need to Ask Before the Wedding – “We’re getting married in 2 weeks and I have cold feet,” says Miriam. “He’s a good man and I love him but we’ve only been together 6 mos and what if that’s not long enough?”
Blossom in Your Relationships
5 Red Flags That Tell You He’s Having an Affair – Is he cheating on you? These red flags will help you know for sure if your boyfriend or husband is having an affair. Often the most difficult part is trusting your instincts, being honest with yourself, and accepting the fact that he is unfaithful.
How to Stop Walking on Eggshells in Your Relationship – You’re walking on eggshells in your relationship, but leaving is difficult, impossible, or just heartbreaking. These tip are inspired by a reader’s comment…
Cold Feet? How to Cope With Anxiety Before the Wedding – Pre wedding jitters are the “cold feet” you’ll learn how to deal with – those nagging doubts you feel about getting married. You’ll also want to know about a research study I found; it explored the long-term effects of ignoring cold feet before getting married.
5 Examples of the Mind Games People Play in Relationships – Every couple is different, but when you read these common examples of mind games in relationships, you’ll see similar manipulations and attempts to control. We’re all unique, but we’re still human. We have the same needs and hearts (which have often been hardened by life experiences and other people).
What do you want to die doing? Don’t let self-consciousness or fear stand in your way.