Have you ever felt awkward during a conversation with someone that you meet for the first time? I know I have.
That feeling of self-consciousness where you can think of absolutely nothing to say. And your amygdala is sending out stress signals causing you to blank out to the point where you can’t even remember the name of the person you are speaking to.
I remember being at a dinner party one evening, where I hit a total blank while speaking to someone. I wanted to slap myself on the forehead (read face palm) out of embarrassment while inside my head the conversation went something like : Did I say her name right? She thinks I’m an idiot. Oh crap, I don’t know what to talk about!
When you are self-conscious it typically means that you are worried about what others will think of you. And you ever helpful unconscious is constantly on the lookout for confirmation to prove that what you are thinking is true. (That’s why it’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy).
Feeling self-conscious can happen at the most inconvenient times, I know. It’s also something that happens to almost everyone at some point. It’s called being human.
Lean into the feeling
The trick is to learn to handle it when it happens. A big part of my work is centred around acknowledging and accepting what you are feeling. Because no-one likes feeling unpleasant feelings our automatic response could be to ignore, suppress or avoid feeling them at all costs.
That’s a little like thinking there is a boogey man under the bed. As long as you don’t have the courage to look under the bed to see that there is nothing there, the boogey man grows bigger and scarier with longer, sharper teeth.
Avoiding uncomfortable feelings, is like avoiding looking to see that there is no boogey man after all.
Make it about the other person
We are all concerned about ourselves and about what is going on in our own lives. If you really take the time to think about it, you will see that people are far less concerned about what we do or say than we think they are.
Instead you can look for real connection.Ask them what they think about a certain topic, or ask them to explain something to you. Realise the importance of how you make others feel.
What do you do when you are feeling self-conscious? I’d love to know!