Self-consciousness can be defined as an extreme and debilitating state of self-awareness. Simply put, instead of seeing yourself as someone who exists apart from others as an individual, you become preoccupied with yourself. The state of being self-conscious usually involves a degree of discomfort, such as when you realize that all the people in a room are looking at you. It has an aura of awkwardness about it, as though people are seeing inside of you and judging what they see. A person who thinks of him or herself as shy or paranoid is self-conscious to a sometimes extreme degree, but we all have this quality at times. Unfortunately, it can strike at the most inopportune moments – like on a date. But you can stop being self-conscious when dating. Ironically, the key lies in being more self-aware.
Be Conscious, Not Self-Conscious
There is a difference between having a heightened sensitivity about your own actions and words, and being aware of your behavior in a more natural way. Self-awareness is a good thing when it involves being conscious of the world around you in addition to your own state of being, and thinking about how others are feeling, reacting and perceiving you. If you are a conscious being, you are receiving messages from your environment and others in that environment. If you are only being self-conscious, you are focusing on your own perceptions, feelings and reactions, and you are not able to be in the moment – a very important place to be on a date.
Be A Good Listener
Another way to avoid the perils of self-consciousness on a date is to practice being a good listener. By concentrating on what your date is saying, making appropriate responses and encouraging him or her to speak freely, you will take your internal attention away from yourself and turn it to the person in front of you. Practicing other listening skills is great too – like reflective listening, in which you rephrase and repeat what you are hearing from the other person.
Be A Good Communicator
But being a good listener is only half of being a good communicator – you have to have something to say. This is often a problem area for self-conscious people who can only hear themselves, and thus become somewhat paralyzed – a state your date is bound to notice. By relaxing and actually listening to him or her, you will be able to participate and converse in a natural and genuine way.
Consideration is the art of thinking about the other person’s needs and desires, and trying to meet those wishes when possible, it also means that you are aware of what is going on in the present situation, and trying to make it more comfortable and enjoyable. If you are only seeing yourself and your behaviors, this is impossible to do – consideration comes from being able to focus on the outside world.
Having compassion, tolerance and understanding of what you and your date are going through in the present situation means that you practice forgiveness. And it needs to be done immediately, such as after an awkward statement, or a gaffe of some kind. You must show a willingness to move on and forgive whoever was responsible for the moment – yourself or your date. No matter what happens, let it pass and keep moving forward in self-awareness, not self-consciousness. Remember, you can only do this once, so it’s a good idea to do your best.