What does self consciousness prevent you from doing?
Oh my oh my, well you may not believe it but I would probably describe myself as pretty self conscious when it comes to taking photographs – yes I finally said it. I’m a photographer and yes I can get self conscious when it come to having photographs of myself. It would probably surprise many people to know that I’m quite the introvert.
That said, I am able to help people that feel a little self conscious in photographs or apprehensive about having them done. Namely because I am much the same and I am an experienced portrait photographer (this helps!).
I don’t want this to sound too ‘woo woo’ but it’s important that you try to step back and really think about the feelings you experience when these moments occur.
Yes, they are valid. Yes you should allow yourself to feel them.
It’s no good telling yourself not to be apprehensive, or shy, or just downright scared! Telling yourself or anyone else to ‘get over it’ is really not too helpful. Am I right?
10 tips to help with self consciousness and awkwardness
1. Acknowledge your feelings without judgement.
Ask yourself where do these awkward feeling really come from? E.g. from a place of fear, overwhelm etc. Recognise where it’s coming from without putting yourself down. For example, I say to myself (in the third person) …’okay Samantha you’re feeling nervous right now’. Verbalise it if you need to. Acknowledge it, it’s the first step.
2. Not everyone cares as much as you might think
In reality, is anyone really paying attention to your feeling of apprehension? Do you really think people are noticing that? To be honest, many will also be thinking about themselves. The truth is we tell ourselves this story of how we are ‘self conscious’ , ‘nervous’ or ‘awkward’. We play the tape over and over again in our head. But most of the time no one is even paying any attention to your level of self consciousness or awkwardness. So it’s really not as obvious as you think it is. And if you ‘make a mistake’, most people won’t even notice, or care.
If anyone does notice it, they will often very quickly dismiss it, it’s a passing thought and then it’s gone. For me, if I sense that from someone, I empathise. I don’t take pity – but I get it and I’m not the only one that does. So many people have social anxieties on all levels. Don’t think it’s just you, because it isn’t. This is the reality of the world we now live in.
3. Pedestal not required
If there is just one person or a particular group that you’re feeling nervous about seeing or meeting just remember that they are people too and they all have their own crap they have to go through. No one is perfect and no one needs to be put upon a pedestal either. I found that when I stopped seeing people as more than me, the intimidation just went away. Now I just don’t see it anymore, or if I do it’s rare. Of course I can admire someone or be happy for someone. But that’s different. High five to them – but that doesn’t mean a low five to you. Try shifting your focus from yourself and how you feel – to them. See what happens!
4. Negative self talk
Negative thoughts. We all have them, and they are just not welcome. Do your best to acknowledge them when they come, then allow them to pass through you like clouds moving across the sky. No – we are not ignoring them, we are seeing them, acknowledging them and saying goodbye. Let them pass through you. So thank you – and goodbye.
5. Accept or acknowledge your nuances
Accept your nuances and better still, learn to like or love them. Yes easier said than done but in reality you HAVE to find things about you that you appreciate AND make you happy. And this isn’t about how you look, this is about all of you. If you can’t think of anything, ask some people you trust to give you 3 things they like about you and 3 things that make you different…or just one or two things if you don’t feel comfortable with that.
6. Notice the signs
Start to tune into when you’re feeling self conscious or socially awkward and notice the signs. Can you sense a tightness, clenching, shortness of breath. Start tuning in and try breathing through it. Eventually these things usually peter out once you get used to recognising they’re there. Use your breath, it’s a good way to focus your mind. And if you know anything about me, you know where I’m going next with this…
7. Meditate on the daily
This might possibly be my favourite one in this list.
Look meditation isn’t a fix everything solution, but it can help. I meditate for 15-20 mins when I do. And I admit that there are days that I don’t and there are periods when we all need a break from more structured self care, but even 10 mins is something! Try it and get into a habit, yes a habit I said! It will help you to focus your mind, be more attentive, and less reactive. It can bring clarity and believe it or not you’ll see an effect in daily life. Even if it only helped you feel 10% more content, focused, or 10% less stressed, wouldn’t that be worthwhile? Yes Yes I hear you say…so just try it. If you’d like it guided and in an app form, I recommend Calm or Headspace but YouTube has lots of meditations too. There’s stuff on there for kids too. Remember, it doesn’t matter if you get distracted lots and lots and lots. It takes time for it to get easier. Be patient with yourself.
8. Think about the bigger picture
Think about the bigger picture. For example, in my work as a photographer I sometimes ask parents…
What does it truly mean to you to actually get these photographs?
What does it mean to you and your family and children now or in the future?
Do you want to be seen in some photographs, and with your children?
9. Push boundaries if you’re up for it
Dare I say, get out of your comfort zone a little. So if it means to put yourself out there or test the waters even, then do it. Only if you feel ready. This has done wonders for me. Sometimes we just talk ourselves into a mess when it’s really not all that bad. Better still. Sometimes it can lead to a new way of feeling or thinking.
10. Embrace Vulnerability as fundamental
This is a sure fire way to get you onto the path of feeling more comfortable in your own skin. I absolutely love when people show their real selves to me. I naturally want to tune into that. It’s heart warming when someone wants to share a part of themselves with me when they might usually have felt scared. It’s also the foundation of where real wholesome meaningful connections begin. I see so much strength when a person does this and you need to know this… practise vulnerability and see how it can be a sign of strength. Once you see this, you will get stronger. Go watch this 20 min TED talk by Brene Brown. 38 million views at this point in time, it’s one of THE most watched TED talks ever. Brene has written on so many areas around shame and vulnerability.
I hope these 10 tips on self consciousness and awkwardness are helpful to you. Please share this post with anyone who would also appreciate them too
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Samantha is an award winning London Newborn, Baby and Natural Authentic Family Photographer.
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