The Plague of Self-Consciousness
I am sure we have all felt as though everyone was looking at us, judging us and forming bad opinions of us. It prevents us from saying what we really want to say, doing what we want to do and achieving the best outcomes in life that serve us.
We grow up in a world where there is a need for recognition. We learned that being liked means to be happy and being different means that you are a loner. Things we say and do are all to satisfy our own need to be liked and accepted, be it healthy or unhealthy. However, the desire to satisfy others is a habit that has to be lost if we make our minds up to grow and become a better person.
The need to satisfy other people is innate in our genes, as our ancestors survived in tribes and being left alone was considered to be one of the most severe punishments back then. As we grew up, we craved for our parents’ acceptance, as they controlled a large extent of our well-being.
However, this causes a habit of conditional acceptance, where we only feel safe to be confident around others if we look good enough, are smart enough, rich enough or funny enough. This leads to us behaving in an unauthentic manner. How many of us dare to sing in front of others like we sing in the shower?
Many of us feel bad when we look into the mirror, not particularly because we look bad on any terms, but we are subjectively bad in our own perception. With social media such as Instagram where people subject themselves to be judged by other people 24/7, it is no wonder why mental health issue rates are on the rise.
We are not in control (of other people’s thoughts)
In a world of 7 billion people, an individual person is insignificant. There are only a certain level of things we can control, and that is what we say, think, do and feel. Things other than that, we ought to let go and accept whatever comes.
Self-consciousness has been known to give rise to feelings of insecurity and anxiety, because we are not in control of what other people think of us. The less control we have over our lives, the more helpless and disempowered we get. This leaves us with less energy and time to do things that build us up and make us feel genuinely happy and content with life.
Courage to let go of opinions
When we make the brave decision to let go in order to achieve something that is worthwhile, such as pursuing our dream of going to school at age 50 or becoming a musician, it requires courage. People that have succeeded such as Bill Gates or Thomas Edison succeeded in overcoming the first obstacle of uncertainty and fear, and that was what led to revolutionary changes in the world.
Every individual has unlimited potential, with all of us having so much untapped energy and dreams. One has to realise that he has to change his opinion of himself in order to become someone outside of what he thinks himself to be.
Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.
Number 1 Regret:
I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
"This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it."
Focusing your attention on the world
The world is full of beautiful sceneries, amazing people and love. To be able to see it, one has to look for it. One cannot see what is external when all attention is focused internally.
In life, we often feel inner turmoil, which reduces the flexibility of response. This isolates people from the world. Unless one listens to the sound of his surroundings, interacts with people around him and brings joy to those around him, one will see life as pointless. How about you go for a hike, and see how beautiful the world is?
As quoted by renowned psychologist Alfred Adler, true joy is achieved by contributing to your community.
Written by: Sugimoto Shoujin