This wasn’t the next post that I was going to write and publish this week. But I decided that, based on the fact that my first post talked about happiness being an inside job, giving yourself good self-talk and the fact that I spent a lot of time worrying about that post and my corresponding Instagram stories that I would write about it because I wasn’t really practicing what I had been preaching.
Here’s the thing, while the subject of wellbeing is of great interest to me, I am by no means an expert. I’m just winging it like everyone else.
So, I wanted to cover ‘Self-love.’ I’m not sure I have ever met anyone who has mastered the art of ‘self love.’ I’ve heard of it and I know its something the guru of self-love and well respected author Louise Hay talks about a lot, I’m even familiar with her mirror work but frankly, looking into a mirror and telling myself over and over how great I am really isn’t my thing. In fact, a lot of the ‘self love’ literature can actually be a little on the ‘fluffy’ side and that doesn’t really work for me.
So, I began thinking about this ‘self-love’ thing and an off-shoot of that, which seems to be getting to me lately and that’s around being self-conscious and whether its a really unhealthy mind-set or if it can be useful at all?
I believe that most people do have a degree of ‘self-conciousness’ and thats very normal. We are all on the spectrum of one thing or another but its generally only when these things begin to impact our lives in a negative way and cause us (or even others distress) when they need some attention.
In my last post, I talked about comparison and how getting stuck in a rut of comparing yourself to others can be incredibly unhealthy and rob us of our happiness. You can read that post here but I’ll cover it again briefly because it makes sense in the context of this post.
Comparison is a form of being self-conscious. Its ok to get inspiration from others, I mean, I get questions about what I have been wearing, where an item in my home is from and so on and I ask others too and thats absolutely fine because, after all, thats what magazines and brands trade off! When it becomes not ok, is when this curiosity in others leads you begin to compare yourself to them and it leaves you feeling sh*t about yourself.
It’s important, therefore, to catch this habit and nip it in the bud – as soon as you realise you’re doing it stop! Go find the nearest mirror and start telling yourself how great you are – I’m joking. But seriously, rather than focusing on what you are effectively perceiving are your weaknesses, try and focus instead on what you do like about yourself, and work on accepting the bits you don’t. Be your own person.
But what kicked this post off for me wasn’t actually comparison (I just thought I would get that in there again, well they say you have to hear something three times to learn it). It was actually self-doubt. Doubting myself and feeling self-conscious about what I was doing.
I cannot tell you how many times I have sat in recent weeks with my fingered poised over the ‘post’ button wondering whether or not to post a picture to Instagram. What. On. Earth. How did this happen? How did something I used to do with little to no thought at all now bother me so much? So long as what I’m posting isn’t offensive, who cares whether there’s a fleck on the screen or the lamp shades wonky (I spent a good five minutes being annoyed at that one this evening which is just ridiculous, though I bet some of you will go take a look for the wonky lampshade post now).
But it was bloody Instagram stories that got me really flustered this time. Why? Because I posted more of me rambling on than I have ever posted before. Why? Because I was trying to explain my thoughts on happiness, that I was writing blog posts on it all week and trying to remember what I wanted to say. So why does that bother me? Lord knows. But the ‘what if I have gone on too long,’ ‘have I just said a load of nonsense,’ no one cares about this’ thoughts just crept on in. But again why? Well I could argue the toss that I’m relatively new to the whole Instagram stories, making my feed more of a creative output, I’ve never been ‘camera trained’ and the fact that as your follower count creeps up you’re ever more conscious that there is a lot of eyes on you. But, honestly, bottom line, I think its just the universal fact that most of us just want to be liked, or at the very least, we don’t want to be judged.
I think I care more about this having worked in a large, fast paced, often high pressure environment where there is always a fear of being judged (you’re only as good as your last deal type thing) and it’s really rubbed off on me. That and a particularly traumatic memory of being severely told off in infant school when I painted my then best friend in the art corner.
It’s a plain and simple fact of life that some people will like you and some people just won’t. But, for the most part, as long as you’re always striving to be a good, moral, nice person then you should feel good about yourself. And, if what you do is always with good intent and its authentic then you’re golden and who cares what people think. If people don’t like what you do or say then thats ok, that’s there opinion and they are entitled to it.
There are however times when I think that we should care what people think. I have heard some people say, and quite proudly, ‘I don’t care what anyone thinks of me’. Hmm? In my experience ‘I don’t care what people think of me’ is often said in the context of having done something that people would unlikely approve of. So caring what others think can be a good thing – it can be our own internal moral compass. If we can stop to think about what we are about to say or do and what others might think as in could it upset or offend someone then that’s got to be a good thing right?
I think that nowadays, sadly we seem to be living in a much more self-focused society where some people operate it an entirely self-serving way and give less thought about others feelings. These people often express their negative opinions when it hasn’t been sought or do things that can be potentially hurtful to others without much thought or consideration to ‘what others think’ So in some scenarios it can be a positive thing to care and check before we speak or do.
As a caveat to the above, I’m sure somewhere out there are a few special individuals who really have nailed the ‘I don’t care what people think in the healthy context, if you are one or know one – then share the secrets please.
So, back to being self-conscious. Channelling our self-consciousness in the right way can be a good thing if it makes us nicer people and I think its ok to want to be liked, again its about balance. I care enough that I consider what I am saying or doing but make sure that I am caring for the right reasons. There’s an old Wiccan saying ‘And it harm none, do as you will’ which actually refers to not casting nasty spells on people and turning them in to frogs, but spring forward to the modern day and I think its still a good thing to live by.
And as for self-doubt. Again, I think its natural to feel this way but its such a blocker to moving towards your goals and a real happiness thief. In my case, I just come back to remembering why I am doing what I am doing, do I like it? Am I being too much of a perfectionist (another post on that coming soon) and then giving myself a healthy dose of ‘who cares what other people think.’ I think about it in the context of style, I like certain styles, whether that’s fashion or interiors or whatever, I look for and follow content that meets that style that’s not to say that different styles aren’t equally as great, they just don’t appeal to me but could be amazing to someone else. This all sounds like common sense really but its so easy to forget.
So I am quietening the self-doubt’ babble that’s spinning around my mind, I’m doing what I believe in, comfortable in the knowledge that I’m doing it for the right reasons and will focus back on enjoying what I do.
And I will leave you with a famous quote that was actually by the poet John Lydgate and adapted by Abraham Lincoln (geek fact for you):
‘You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not please all of the people all of the time’