How to Be Self-Conscious At one point in your life you will come across a person that is a little self-conscious. Youaren’t really sure how they got that way, or why in the world they would ever be that way; it willseem that no matter how many times you compliment them they still feel as if they aren’t goodenough to be human. Is self-consciousness important in our lives, or just a huge waste of time?Ken Sobel, Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Central Arkansas, thinks thatself-consciousness is important because it is a tool that we use in order to get people to share theresources they have with us. His belief says that people are self-conscious because they want topresent the best possible persona to other people. Do you want to present your best possiblepersona? If so, take a look at the following steps: First you should go to your closet and pick out your best outfit. The one in your closetthat just makes you the prettiest you’ve ever been. Don’t get too comfortable though, becauseyou will be pulling at it all day. After you’ve put on your best dress/outfit pick out your accessories. Spend a little time onthese, especially any arm or neck jewelry (because you will use these throughout the day as youbecome nervous with what other people think of you.) Second leave your house/dorm and begin to process slowly what other people arethinking about you. Adjust your outfit a little, and think:Is my dress too short? Does my shirt cover everything up? Does my hair look a mess? Should Ihave worn this outfit at all? What was I thinking? Look at everyone in their casual clothes. Whywas I stupid enough to wear this dressy outfit? I don’t feel pretty in this. Why can’t I take it off?The most awesome time of the day is when you start to get compliments on your outfit and hownice you look...then what do you do? Do you take the compliment and believe it? No…self-
conscious people never do that. You politely say thanks but take nothing to heart because youknow without a shadow of a doubt that no one could ever be telling the truth for once. When you sit down for classes, play with your jewelry a lot, as you begin to think aboutwhat your outfit looks like when you sit down. During this time you can also begin tocontemplate what it will look like when you stand up again. You can also look around yourclassroom and compare the way you look to the people around you. You may find that youroutfit seems a bit more professional than the people around you, that the colors of your outfitdon’t really match those of your other classmates, you might even find that your weight is a lotdifferent from the weight of your classmates. If you catch eyes with someone you can prettymuch guarantee that they are judging you in their head. They are probably analyzing your entireoutfit, and laughing at you in their head as they say:Wow, what a horrid outfit. Why on earth would she leave the house with her hair like that? Whyis she all dressed up? It’s class not a job interview. She looks so stupid with that jewelry on. Isthat a tattoo? Why on earth would she get one of those? She always has the worst clothes on. Shedoesn’t even look nice in that, she is too big for it. Her whole appearance is just uck. Now class is starting. Just because you are self-conscious doesn’t mean you have to beshy about something you may or may not be good at. If you really dislike people staring at you,you can refrain from speaking up in class, but if you like the satisfaction of speaking up aboutsomething you are good at—go for it. Being conscious of yourself in relation to others doesn’tmean that you have to be quiet all the time. After class you may want to hang out with your friends, which you can have by the way.You don’t always have to feel like you belong with them, because sometimes you won’t.Sometimes you’d rather not hang out with them, or you may take something they say way out of
proportion. Maybe they said “You are so dumb sometimes,” but you interpreted it as They think Iam the dumbest thing on earth, they hate me, why do I have those friends? Remember thatfriends are important. They are the people you know you can be your complete self around. You can repeat these steps throughout the day by constantly taking in data about whatyou think people think about when they see you. I know this sounds like a long process, but Ipromise that it will become so natural it will just become a part of you. Then you can do all ofthis without even thinking about it! The only problem is why exactly we think about it. Self-consciousness exists, but whydoes it? When I pass a person, even if they do something slightly embarrassing I forget about itwithin a few minutes, so why does it seem that every time I pass someone I think they are takingin data about me and keeping it in their permanent memory bank? It’s very possible that they arejust dumping any information about me, like I do to them. Ken Sobel says, “Given the fact that we are such thoroughly social creatures, it is naturalfor each of us to wonder how we are seen by others, and to try to present the best possibleidentity to the world. If other people enjoy and appreciate our public persona, then it is likely thatwe will be socially accepted and thus can expect that others will be willing to share theirresources with us.” According to Ken Sobel, our humanness allows us to survive. Without oursocial acceptance our lives as human beings wouldn’t differ much from that of any other animalin the world. Social acceptance leads to the sharing of resources such as food, blankets, andshelter. We all want to fit in, so we use self-consciousness as a way to judge ourselves so we cansee ourselves in the eyes of others. Although the self-concept we build from this is not alwayscorrect.
When asked if he could give reasons why we shouldn’t be self-conscious, Ken Sobel,replied, “I think that it is reasonable to become self-conscious, so I havent an answer to yoursecond question, because I dont think that people should refrain from becoming self-conscious.”Self-consciousness definitely has its upsides. You are more aware of how you are portrayed tothe world, and while some people go to the extreme—is caring what others think of you reallythat bad? When you are self-conscious it seems as if the world is a stage—and you are the leadingcharacter. It feels as if everyone is looking at you and constantly judging you—but if Ken Sobelis correct we want to be conscious of what people think about us. In life there is always that onefriend who doesn’t care about what people think about them—and the friend that cares too much.So who is right? Should we all be doomed to at least a little bit of self-consciousness, or shouldwe all just not care about what other people think about us? The reality of it is certain people’s opinions do matter more than others. If a person is justwalking on the sidewalk when going to class, opinions of that person might not matter as muchas if that person were going to a job interview or looking for a mate. Given that information Ibelieve that we should have different self-consciousness levels for different occasions. Not everyperson’s opinion of you should matter, so why give every person you see the same amount ofself-consciousness? It definitely helps to be aware of what other people might think of you—at least a littlebit. You don’t want to completely shake up the world’s view of how things should be justbecause you have no concern for what other people think of you. You also don’t want to care somuch that you can’t leave your house for fear you won’t be accepted by other people. In myopinion it is okay to be just a little self-conscious as long as you don’t let it take over your life.