Ever have those moments in life where you feel awkward? Or times when you are with a group of new people or an event full of strangers and you feel totally self-conscious? I think most of us, other than you uber-extroverts, occasionally have these kind of moments. In fact, I just had one this past weekend so I wanted to share my tips for moving beyond it...
I attended an event with about 150 other innovators, entrepreneurs and really cool people. There were not many people I knew there, but I love hanging with a like-minded crowd and making new friends. I had a blast and loved spending four days laptop free, yet there was one moment when an old feeling of self-consciousness crept up on me
What happened was one day when everyone was hanging out at a lake house, most of the new friends I had made scattered off to do other activities and I found myself alone. This used to be a huge trigger for me and I would find ways to avoid the situation completely by making myself invisible (go to the bathroom), or by making myself seem otherwise engaged (get out my phone to distract myself even if I didn't have any emails or texts to read).
Because I really do not want to be invisible or distracted and I naturally skew more toward being an introvert, I have had to learn ways to overcome self-consciousness in order to fully engage in group situations. Here is my strategy that I offer to you:
- Acknowledge and accept the tender feeling of insecurity. Make it OK to feel it instead of shaming yourself. Understanding that the feeling is just a result of an old or inaccurate story and gently work with your internal storyteller to create a new one.
- Realize that everyone is not as concerned about you as you are. In our most self-conscious moments, we feel like everyone is looking at us and judging us. This is not true. The truth is we are the only ones obsessed with what we are doing. Everyone else is usually concerned about themselves and really are not even noticing you! When you remind yourself of this, it relieves a lot of pressure.
- Take a step out of your comfort zone -- you are feeling self-conscious anyway so what do you have lose?!? Go up to a group of people and introduce yourself or position yourself in the room where you are not hiding. I went to the very center of the deck where everyone was hanging out and sat in an empty chair.
- Have an open body position and center yourself. We tend to close off when feeling alone or insecure which detracts people from approaching us. Uncross your arms and legs, stand or sit in a receptive position. Breath into your center (which is about three inches below your navel) to ground your energy and get it out of your head - and smile!
- Shift your focus to others. The most effective strategy to not listen to your own negative self-talk is to observe others. Enjoy some people watching and if you want to take it up a notch, be a light worker. By that I mean send loving energy like a white beam of light from your heart to people. Breathe and just radiate a loving presence to the environment around you.
I assure you if you practice these five steps that not only will you feel less self-conscious and more relaxed, you will naturally draw others toward you. In my case, after about five minutes of sitting alone in that chair on the deck focusing on gratitude, centering myself, and sending Light to the beautiful land and all the people, I had two people come and sit on either side of me (and the one on my left happened to be a cute guy -- bonus!).
We all get self-consciousness and find ourselves in situations where we wish we had a lifeline to grab onto -- those of you who refuse to go to any social situation or networking event alone know what I mean. But sometimes the best thing we can do for our growth is to put ourselves in situations that are a bit uncomfortable and approach them differently.
People want to meet you and get to know you. You belong! Stop taking yourself out and missing out just because you are a little self-conscious. Others are much kinder and welcoming than we project them to be. Open your mind and your heart.
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