This article adds to the previous article Being Self-Conscious – Paradise or Hell?
I have been watching which of the articles on Animam Recro are getting the most traffic and what kind of google searches make people end up where they do. I came to some interesting conclusions and several ideas on follow-ups to our previous stories. I have been noticing that there are two kinds of people who have been visiting the above-mentioned (self-conscious) article:
- those who are searching for more information on the Fourth Way teachings
- those who are self-conscious from the psychological perspective and wish it was otherwise
I, like most anyone else on this planet, have sometimes suffered from this affliction. I have found several ways of dealing with, or transforming self-conscious terror, to acceptance, sometimes even mild amusement. And here, my dear reader, I shall tell you about it.
The following techniques are taken from Zen, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (which comes very close to zen), but they can be found in many other teachings – including the Fourth Way.
Being self-conscious feels so bad because it’s all that we concentrate on when it happens, other more pleasurable sensations cease to exist. The trick is to concentrate on other things, change our view, or accept it. Always be aware of your emotions and mood – it’s hard but possible. Once you start feeling the anger rising, the shame welling, or the guilt attacking – become conscious of it. Tell yourself that how you are feeling, look for the reasons why you feel like that. DO NOT REACT TO IT, do not succumb. Once you are aware why you feel the way you do, you can do something about it:
- The easiest one is to become aware of other things. Be mindful of other emotions, think about things that will make you happy. Watch your surroundings, watch people. Stop thinking for a second. Watch your breath. Once you forget about being self-conscious, the emotion will stop – until you remember that you should be self-conscious. With practice you will learn not to remember.
- You can step back in your head and just let the emotion float around your head – it will not be a part of your decision-making process, it will not influence your behaviour anymore. You will be aware that it’s there but you won’t give it any more attention than it deserves. Try changing your posture, smile, change the way you walk or talk.
- If you have the time, preferably if you are alone. You can step back, leave the emotion, analyse it. Take a non-judgemental stance – focus on the facts, the ‘whats’ of how you feel, not the ‘good’ or ‘bad’, the ‘terrible’ or wonderful’, the ‘should’ or ‘should not’. Once you find out the facts you can ask yourself how to prevent this emotion in the future, how to improve it, how to learn to live with it. Do not tell yourself that if you did something differently things would be better, they wouldn’t.
- Now this one is the hardest. Once again step away from the emotion and realise it for what it is. Then accept it. Do not judge yourself – acceptance does not mean that you tell yourself that it’s right to feel this or other way (there is no wrong when it comes to our feelings). Simply tell yourself that it’s okay. You may be self-conscious but you won’t let it affect you. You’ll just be you. Act the way you want to act.
- The last one I’m going to offer is applicable in most situations. I first came across it while reading Crowley but since then I have come across it in most therapeutic traditions. It’s called acting against your emotions. In other words if you feel like not talking, you talk. If you feel like not going out, you do. Since our behaviour can make us feel different (some people believe that we can make ourselves feel differently simply using our minds – sadly enough it’s not that easy, really) this technique can break through past conditioning, can help negative patterns and can elevate moods. It’s a hard one to master but a good one to play with. While you are self-conscious, do what you are afraid of doing the most. Talk to the people who you think mock you.
Enjoy. And if none of it makes sense, or what’s worse – doesn’t work, just smile. Once again, acting in a certain way can make you feel that way too. Smile while sad, laugh when depressed, go to a crowded place when you want to be alone. God, maybe you’ll even learn something about yourself.
Being self-conscious is only harmful for as long as you believe that other people view you in the same light as you view yourself. Once you realise this for absolute arrogance – for why should you be of as much importance to other people as they are to themselves – you will be given the tools to be truly yourself. – some random dude