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Monday, September 17, 2012

Overcoming Self-Consciousness: The Enemy Within

 'I never take counsel of my fears.' General Patton

Do you hate being Judged?

Who likes to be judged? Not me--it stops me up like a cork, preventing the free flow of creativity and my usual enthusiastic engagement in life.

What's funny is sometimes that feeling of being judged is insidious--seemingly harmless and inconspicuous.

At first you may not really notice it. What you notice is you haven't followed through on something important--like asking someone out, applying for a job, updating your resume, or turning in a term paper or business proposal.

You can't seem to figure out why you failed to follow through, but you find yourself engaging in every activity except the one you want to complete. And every time you think about taking action your energy artfully repels against taking that step putting you out there in full public view.

So here's the question--who's doing the judging?

The Enemy Within--Self-Consciousness

Yep. There it is--me, myself and I acting as prosecutor, judge and jury.

Any other day we may step out into the world just being ourselves-- acting all normal. But the day we decide to do something that publicly moves us toward a desire or goal we get constipated. Suddenly self-consciousness sets in sending self-awareness flying out the window.

I am a fairly self-confident person so I am always surprised to discover this personal truth at play within myself. Yet none of us are immune to the pull of self-judgment leading to self-consciousness and ultimately procrastination.

On one not-so-notable occasion I was asked to provide samples of my work in jpeg format to an Art Center where I wanted to display my work. Since I'd displayed my art in public and sold it in stores for years this was no biggie--right? I had 100s of jpeg images of my creations on the computer. So why didn't I just load up the pictures and hit 'send'? Why did I drag my feet? At the time I didn't know--and I wasn't even consciously aware I was reluctant to act.

It was only after I distracted myself from thinking I overcame my hidden reluctance and realized it was self-consciousness that prevented me from completing the task earlier.

What Took Minutes to Complete Took Days to Begin

I would like to believe like General Patton 'I never take counsel of my fears', but if I'm honest (and in this arena I really don't like to be), I have my moments.

What took me minutes to complete took me days to begin. Self-consciousness and a lack of self-awareness had tag-teamed me once again.

For a professed non-perfectionist it's difficult to admit a bit of perfectionist thinking is what's getting in the way. But there it is--a public admission from this 'highly self-aware non-perfectionist about her self-consciousness, perfectionist thinking, self-judgment, and lack of self-awareness. Ugh.

But I know my secret admission is safe with you. Why? Because I know you have your moments too. The truth is we all stumble over ourselves from time to time. We bear down and over-analyze our self, work and actions. We see our work for what it isn't--and become self-critical. We become the judges looking for our imperfections--and it stops us in our tracks.
"You see your work for what it isn't; Others see your work for what it is"
The Wisdom of Trusting the Whimsy Within

So how do you get out of being self-conscious and get back into a freely flowing state?

You lighten up. A bit of silliness and poking a bit of fun at ourselves or life can be just what is needed to let go of self-consciousness and self-judgment. That's what 'trust the whimsy within' is about--lightening up so your true wisdom can shine through.

So stop thinking, lighten up, and take a tip from Ogden Nash--use a little silliness to get unstuck and fly through your flaws.

Ogden Nash on Getting Unstuck
"A flea and a fly in a flue,
Were stuck, so what could they do?
Said the fly, "Let us flee!"
"Let us fly!" said the flea.
So they flew through a flaw in the flue."

"Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans: it's lovely to be silly at the right moment."- Horace

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