Is Your Self-Consciousness Holding You Back?
Zoe was in a meeting when she first realised what was happening to her. The discussion had been going round and around in circles, never getting anywhere. She was feeling frustrated that people couldn’t see the obvious solution.
She looked at her boss and caught her eye. Turning to Zoe, the boss asked her, “Zoe, I think you have something you’d like to contribute?” All eyes turned to her, and suddenly Zoe’s mind went blank.
She felt excruciatingly uncomfortable at the idea of speaking in front of everyone, so she squirmed in her seat and said, “No, nothing yet.” She was worried her team members would think she was a show-off. She was afraid they would misunderstand her motives. She missed an opportunity to shine and to solve the problem sooner…
Jeff arrived for his performance review with the Board. He had consistently produced results and was confident about his performance. The Board agreed. Jeff knew this was his chance to ask for a promotion as his boss, the CEO, had just announced his resignation, and Jeff knew he could do the job.
He was certainly at the same level and, in some cases, exceeded it. When the ideal moment came up in conversation, Jeff hesitated. While he knew he deserved the promotion, he worried that the Board would think him too forward and thought, “If they think I’m ready, they’d ask me if I was interested." He didn’t want to be seen as pushy or overly ambitious, so he let the moment pass…
Angela was nervous on her first day, but she wasn’t too worried about her ability to do the job. Her nerves were more personal. Would she be accepted in this new team?
As she walked across the room, she felt like she was in the spotlight, with eyes on her, assessing her dress sense, the way she walked, and the way she interacted with her boss who was walking with her. She felt disapproving vibes directed at her and wished she could just disappear…
You’re not as good as everyone else?
Each of those three people had an unhealthy level of self-consciousness. They worried too much about how they were perceived by others. Self-consciousness can be uncomfortable, and it can also be misleading.
For example, one of the first times I saw the real impact of high self-consciousness was at Uni, when I walked into the common area with another girl. She stopped walking and scanned the people around her. She wouldn’t walk through the crowd with me to get to our path. Instead, she scurried behind the buildings, looking for a way to get there without being noticed.
I asked her why she did that. She told me she knew they’d see she was different, out-of-place. She had a niggling feeling that she wasn’t as good as everyone else. Sadly, she quit Uni a few weeks later, and I didn’t see her again.
High self-consciousness springs from many causes:
- Listening to the negative voice in our head
- Imposter syndrome
- Lack of self-belief
- Experienced trauma
- An overly strong need to fit in
We need to have some level of self-consciousness - self-awareness - but we can't let it control our lives. It puts limits on who we can be and our ability to grow as people.
How can you control your self-consciousness?
The most important thing you need to realise is that self-consciousness springs from your mindset - and that can be changed. You are just as valuable and worthwhile as anyone else, so you need to start looking for things to support that belief.
Stop focusing internally on the negative voices and your anxious reactions. Shift your attention from yourself and start looking outward. Change your perspective.
When you become interested and curious in the people and places around you, you are less self-conscious and more naturally able to interact. You remove the limits your mind has put on you.
Is your mindset holding you back?
If you’re struggling with self-consciousness, the answer is yes. If the idea of single-handedly trying to control your mindset seems impossible, let’s do it together.
It's time to break free from limiting beliefs and negative self-talk. Book a call to start your transformation today.
Caroline Kennedy, author of Lead Beyond 2030: The Nine Skills You Need to Intensify Your Leadership Impact, is an accomplished former CEO, Award-Winning Executive Coach and global thought leader on business and leadership. She is a highly sought-after mentor and coach to top global executives. A respected keynote speaker and author, Caroline’s methods are neuroscience-based to achieve rapid development and growth.