A few weeks ago I wrote about the idea of authenticity and how acting without self-consciousness was at the heart of it. Since then, I have been experimenting with the idea of self-consciousness. I have been:
- Noticing when self-consciousness occurs.
- I have been testing ways to talk myself away from feeling self-conscious.
- And I have been noticing my results.
Here is my conclusion. This is more powerful and simple than I would have imagined. Let's start with the simple part - noticing self-consciousness.
The feeling of being self-conscious comes up as we are planning to do something or just getting started. They are those little thoughts that trail into our minds and create worry, fret, or apprehension. Many of these thoughts have some merit and many do not. But even those with some logical basis might not be helpful. Here is a rather graphic example that I bet we can all relate to:
- Action: Signing up for a Pilates or Yoga class.
- Self-conscious thought: Worrying about passing gas.
Face it, when bending one's body into pretzel-like shapes, the likelihood of provoking the release of gas is higher. This worry has merit especially if you have consumed foods and drinks that cause gas.
At work, similar situations occur. Prior to a meeting, or during it, we might feel a tinge of self-consciousness before deciding whether to bring up a difficult topic. You might be judged, shot down, or get an unfavorable response from the boss. It could happen! It does happen!
And we all pass gas. So we should not do the Pilates?
No, that would be a cop out and inauthentic to our intentions.
Notice. Choose. Move forward.
When we notice these human moments we enable ourselves to make some choices. Sometimes we will hold back. If we can talk ourselves through the apprehension, new things are possible.
It is not all about talk. We can take actions to reduce the feared negative outcome. We can change our diets prior to the Pilates class. And we can prepare more fully for the meeting. We can think about how we might say something so it is heard as we intend it.
Over that last several weeks I have been noticing when I have thoughts of self-consciousness and making the choice to talk myself out of the fear and take action that moves me forward. I have done this at least a few dozen times and I am very pleased with the results. I might need to remind myself (often repeating the mantra, "without self-consciousness, without self-consciousness") a few times to stay in action, but it works. It really works.
I invite you to notice your moments of self-consciousness and get through them at least some of the time. As a manager, there are many aspects of your work that will provoke self-doubt. It is natural. But being authentic means that we are willing to act consistently with our intentions without self-consciousness.
BTW: I am not suggesting that we disable our filters. This is not a post about being irresponsible and immature (which is the definition of having no filters). Acting without self-consciousness is about removing our self-imposed barriers to manifesting our intentions.
Repeat the mantra if that helps. "Without self-consciousness, without self-consciousness.."
One more observtion. People notice us less than we think. People think about us less than we think. Most of our little worries are silly because no one is paying attention. You are not the only one at the Pilates class who worries about passing gas. And when you do - and we all will at some point - it will be no big deal. We will not have to leave the class in shame. The earth will not start spinning in a different direction. This I know for sure.