How to Overcome Self-Consciousness. The Key Is To Unlock The Permission Programs That Hold You Back
Anyone that has read my blog knows helping others to be their best is one of my goals. I have come to appreciate change, self-directed and unapologetically. When I see it in others, I marvel because there aren't enough of us living this way. Social conditioning is one of the primary culprits in the struggle to overcome self-consciousness. The conditioning is instilled from an early age, so as you grow, many people don't even realize that these normative values are adopted as opposed to consciously choosing them.
Experiencing self-consciousness is a person's way of checking their behavior against the instilled norms to see if their thoughts, feelings, and actions fit into the framework they know to be acceptable.
I like the folks that march to the beat of a different drum. I'm not talking about being controversial or argumentative just for the sake of it. What I've come to understand, in my own life, and when I see it in the lives of others is that you must conquer the giant of self-consciousness and permit yourself to be you regardless of who else shares your point of view. And although social conditioning would teach you otherwise, don't let it strip you of your birthright.
The Key is to Unlock the Permission Programs
I remember as if it were yesterday an incident that occurred in elementary school. One of my classmates asked the teacher for permission to use the bathroom. The teacher declined. The poor kid sat there wiggling and squirming and ultimately peed on himself. More than a few kids laughed at him too. I was upset by it, so much so that when I went home, I told my mom what happened. Although we weren’t exactly covering new ground during our conversation, she reaffirmed that the point to teacher and kid exchanges is one of respect, not lordship. A point that my teacher had woefully misunderstood, and so did my classmate. He shouldn’t have been made to wait for permission, in agony and ultimately embarrassed. And mom told me if I ever found myself in a similar situation to leave the classroom and take care of business. It was an empowering conversation. We had lots of those in our house.
I grew up during a time when kids were allowed to observe more so than they were encouraged to speak. But my parents, mom especially, were clear in their view that no one should ever disrespect my sister or me, and if we ever anything akin to it, we were to speak up. She never wanted us to think we "had to" fit in, comply or follow the rules.
Now think about all the areas of life that we wait for others to grant permission before we act upon our desires or speak our truth. As kids, it’s our parents and family members that are the first guardians of green lights, followed by friends, educators, employers, and for some partners or spouses. Waiting for permission happens more often than we realize. So too does masking our true selves because we fear disapproval, judgment, and rejection. All are forms of denial of self and seeking permission.
Being or having a unique perspective is acceptable, that is until your viewpoint is contrary to someone else's or it’s too far out there.
But, the norms are being challenged, particularly by Generation Z. They're challenging societal, cultural and familial norms, similar to what we’ve experienced in the past with the Baby Boomers and in more subtle ways with Gen X. It's an exciting time to engage with younger folks. They aren't weighed down by the burdens that have overtaken many adults. They aren't fully indoctrinated with the concepts compliance, political correctness at the expense of sharing their truth for fear of rejection or reprisal. A significant number of today's youth aren’t filtering their desires or looking for your approval. They're shedding the Permission Programs, preferring to tell it like it is and let the chips fall where they may. Even more than that, they are pushing for change as active participants in creating the world that they will inherit.
Not feeling like you can do it regardless of your generation? Here are a few tips on overcoming self-consciousness and seeking the approval of others. Remember to start small and work your way up to loftier goals.
1. Stop comparing yourself to some ideal. Let go of the idea of perfection. It’s over-hyped and not attainable for anyone. What you see on television, in print, and on social media has often been altered to create a more stylized version of people and products. Don’t believe the hype!
2. Love and accept yourself even you’re awkwardness. My philosophy is that adorkable people are the best. Own it.
3. Embrace a growth mindset.
4. Make a top 10 list of things that interest you.
5. Now step out of your comfort zone and do them. You may not share all of the same likes and interests with those you are most familiar, but that shouldn’t stop you from pursuing them. Doing so will broaden your view of the world as well as expose you to new people.
6. Spend a little time each day meditating and contemplating on being in the moment. The mind of the permission seekers often runs wild. Meditation is a great way to reclaim, calm, and focus the mind.
7. Voice your opinions instead of smiling or nodding or avoiding eye contact when issues come up. Your voice may falter at first, but you’ll get better speaking your truth with practice.
8. Agree to disagree. Differences of opinion are not the end of the world. Beyond that, your life is entirely your own to navigate as you see fit. You'll come to understand that you can disagree with someone and still be loved. Click here for a great article on the subject in O magazine.
To be happy and healthy you must take charge of your own life. Knowing your purpose and living your passion is key to that. Waiting for permission does the opposite, relinquishing the reins and putting it in the hands of others. It will take time and effort to turn it around, but you can reverse the course of approval seeking, and self-consciousness in your life. Working the tips above will result in a happier healthier you!
Always the best,