October 13, 2007

Tricks for beating self-consciousness



I read a great article by Martha Beck, called, "The Cure for Self-Consciousness." Thanks to the Get Rich Slowly blog for posting the link.

Ms. Beck discusses the crippling self-consciousness that many people experience, causing them to avoid doing, being or saying anything that might lead to criticism, judgment or embarrassment. (Here are a couple of previous posts on self-limiting beliefs.)

"These self-limiting behaviors have no positive side; contrary to what many assume, they rarely save us from doing things we'll later regret. In fact, Gilovich and Medvec have found in other studies that, in the long run, people most often regret the things they failed to try, rather than the things they bombed at. Trying yields either success or an opportunity to learn; not trying has no positive result besides avoiding mockery or envy that (research shows) wouldn't be nearly as big or bad as we fear."

So what's the cure? Ms. Beck mentions a couple of methods for challenging self-consciousness.

One is to "double everything," making her actions and personality twice their normal size. Her thinking is that, because people are really only paying half as much attention as we believe they are, that doubling your actions makes you life size instead of timid.

The second is to "think through your limits," meaning to look past your anxiety and act as though there is no one to judge you, no one who cares about your behavior, and no negative attention on you - which, logically, we already know is true, but fear makes us believe otherwise.

My favorite is the third method, "Ask yourself the Universal Question."

When you catch yourself limiting your behaviors because "someone might see" or "someone might criticize," ask yourself this:

"So?"

Let's apply this to public speaking.

"I might forget my place in the presentation."

So?

"I might talk too fast."

So?

"The audience might ask me questions I can't answer."

So?

See how it works? Ms. Beck says,

"There are endless applications for the Universal Question. I suggest using it every time you feel yourself hesitating to do something that might deepen or broaden your life. The answer to the question "So?" is almost always "Well, when you put it that way…" It pushes us into the spotlight, showing us we can survive there and freeing us to act on our best instincts."

I recommend reading Ms. Beck's complete article. It's inspiring.

How will you add "So?" to your arsenal of tricks against self-consciousness?

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Jacki Hollywood Brown said...

“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”
Dr. Seuss

Lisa Braithwaite said...

Dr. Seuss knows best!

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