I was extremely self-conscious growing up. As a child, I would look in the mirror and wonder if my ears looked strange, or ask my mother if my voice sounded really strange.
I was overly concerned about what others thought of me and tried to achieve an ideal of appearance or “coolness” that I believed existed.
As Rohini Radhakrishnan explains:
“Self-awareness is being concerned with yourself, especially with how others perceive your appearance or actions.”
Imagine my shock after years and years when I discovered that the coolest thing of all is to be confident about who you are and be true to yourself.
Still, I admit that many of these expressions are ones I’ve used in my time, and other self-aware people can probably relate to them as well.
Let’s dive in.
There’s nothing wrong with saying sorry.
But saying sorry too often can become a compulsion and a way to undermine yourself.
Those who say sorry all the time come across as having low self-esteem and being overly polite in a way that can sometimes come across as insincere.
Don’t say sorry for little things!
2) “Sorry to bother you”
This is in the same sentence as saying sorry too much:
It’s just not necessary and it’s one of those verbal habits that weakens your position and makes you seem overly apologetic.
Unless you’re asking a lot of someone when they’re extremely busy, try to limit the use of this phrase as much as possible.
3) “I’ll keep sending messages”
This is something that highly self-confident people often say because their attention is highly focused on themselves.
If this is you, you will notice very clearly the moments when you fall short.
In reality, you probably don’t screw up any more than most other people. Therefore, saying too much only reinforces an unrealistic negative self-image.
4) “I just can’t do anything right”
This is in the same line as the previous sentence.
It’s a very disheartening feeling to think about yourself, and although it may feel that way from time to time, it’s a phrase best left alone.
Your inner critic is more than annoying enough without giving it a voice.
5) “Would you mind if I…?”
This is a very polite thing to say, but it’s also quite self-aware in a disempowering way.
It immediately gives all the power to the person you’re talking to, giving him or her every possible excuse to reject you.
It’s a good habit to be more direct.
6) “Do you think it would be possible for…”
This is another version of “would you mind” and it puts you in the background from the start.
It indicates a lack of real belief and trust in what you are asking for.
“This gives the recipient a clear indication that you don’t really believe what you’re saying and gives him or her complete control over what happens next.” notes Ryan Luke.
7) Do I look good?”
Asking if you look good is something we all do from time to time.
But people who ask others about their appearance a lot tend to be very self-conscious, in a way that can become a burden.
Not only does it make others feel like they need constant validation, but it can make you feel worse and worse if you don’t believe you actually look good.
8) “Do they look better than me?”
If you are quite self-conscious, you may often ask if other people look “cooler” or better than you.
Let’s be honest:
There will always be people with many different appearances and styles.
Comparing ourselves to a vague and ever-changing group of “others,” for better or for worse, is a losing game and takes focus and well-being away from our own lives.
9) “Do you understand what I mean?”
This can be a fair question, especially if someone seems quite confused about what you’re saying.
But if you’re very self-conscious, this can be a reflexive and instinctive question.
I used to stick it at the end of almost everything I said.
The key is to trust that if someone doesn’t know what you mean, he or she will ask you.
10) “Sorry, I’m so emotional about this”
Don’t apologize for your emotions.
Highly self-conscious people tend to feel bad for feeling bad.
Don’t be so hard on yourself and let yourself go a little. You are not a bad or weak person if you have strong opinions about something.
11) “Sorry for talking so much”
Don’t apologize for talking a lot.
Self-confident people often do this, and the problem is that if you really talk a lot, there’s no point in talking more by apologizing for it.
In that case, just talk less…
As an award-winning behavioral strategist and Harvard-trained leadership coach says Shadé Zahrai:
“Apologizing for talking detracts from your message. If you start to feel like you’re taking up a lot of stage time, just pause and let the audience digest the information.”
12) “I’m no expert, but…”
This statement is something that a person with quite self-conscious tendencies will often preface their thoughts with…
But here’s the thing:
You don’t have to be an expert to want your opinions and thoughts to be worth something.
Even being an expert doesn’t necessarily mean someone is right, even if it does add more weight to their words.
13) “I guess what I mean is…”
The word ‘gambling’ is quite a slippery word.
If you’re quite self-conscious, you’ll find it creeps into your lexicon in many ways.
The truth is that it just dilutes everything that is said and usually adds a hint of self-doubt and hesitation to everything that is said.
14) “It’s just my opinion”
This is a sentence that adds a hint of doubt to what has just been said.
If you’re very self-conscious, you say that so you don’t feel so much pressure.
You said something brilliant, interesting, random, strange, who knows:
But be sure to add that it’s just an “opinion” so you don’t feel as pressured to stand behind your words if they prove unpopular or cause a backlash.
15) “It may be a bit strange to say, but…”
It might be weird, it might not.
But this phrase is very typical of a self-confident individual who worries about how his words will be received.
The fact is that even if you are afraid that your comments will be perceived as strange, there is no need to reinforce them by adding this or putting the thought in people’s minds.
16) “You probably know a lot more about it than I do, but…”
This is not necessarily an accurate assumption.
If you’re quite self-conscious, you can say this as a way to be kind or not to overestimate yourself.
But whether or not someone else knows more about a particular subject than you do, it’s best to just find out, rather than immediately weaken your position.
Finding the good side of being self-aware
Being self-aware has a redeeming quality:
The fact that it means that you are very self-conscious. The key is simply to turn that self-awareness into empowerment and beneficial action, rather than self-criticism and self-doubt.
The high level of consciousness is there, now it’s just a matter of realizing that you are much better than you realize and that there is nothing wrong with you.
As psychiatrist Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios advises:
“Try to remind yourself that people don’t think and talk about you the way you think they do…
“Challenge the way you think about yourself. Let yourself know that the world around you is no better than you.”
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