self-conscious

365 Challenge: Day 50 – Self-Conscious

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Self-Conscious: feeling undue awareness of oneself, one’s appearance, or one’s actions

Some people are completely content with who they are, how they look and the way they act. I have never been one of those people. I envy those people. Those people make me frustrated. I dream of being one of those people. But I have definitely improved over the years when it comes to how self-conscious I’ve been.

OK… to put it all out there… the list of things I’m self-conscious over:

  • Being too pale and feeling like everyone can see every blemish, burn, fluster or discoloration in skin tone
  • Feeling too short
  • Needing to wear glasses
  • Body parts too small or too big (I find fault with everything!)
  • Inexperience over various things
  • How clothing fits
  • Being too young or too old in a situation
  • Dancing
  • Sports
  • … let’s stop for now or I’ll go on for ever

We all feel this way at some point in our lives. For some of us, it’s only a little bit and we outgrow it. For many of us, it’s powerful and consuming. And at times, it can feel like the entire world “has it in for you.” But that’s simply not true, and I only feel comfortable saying this many years into my adulthood, where part of me doesn’t “give a shit” (pardon my language) what others think.

As a child, teenager and younger adult, I was self-conscious over everything and it caused small panic attacks, retreat, and wasted time and energy. If I spent half as much time worrying as I did, I’d have so much less stress and a many more comforts today than I do (and I have little stress and a lot of comforts).

Ultimately, it came down to 2 primary things causing these tensions: (1) I didn’t trust in myself or in others and (2) I was immature or inexperienced. Let’s dive in a little deeper:

Trust

  • Trust is a two-way action; to be successful, both people in the relationship or situation must trust one another.

  • I have always had issues trusting others when I do not know them. As a result, strangers always represented the possibility of something bad or wrong (no, nothing ever happened to me… I just kept people at arm’s length). When you don’t trust someone, you assume the worst. For me, the worst meant they didn’t like me and would do, think or say negative things about me.
  • Although I am always a trustworthy person, if I don’t show this to others, they may not immediately trust me either. And if someone doesn’t trust me, then they may actually be doing, thinking or saying those negative things.
  • Without trust, you assume the worst and over-think a situation, helping breed more self-conscious behaviors within your own actions. The foundation for feeling good about yourself either fails to build, minimizes itself or disappears entirely.
  • Less trust therefore means you question more… and once you question things about yourself, the flood of self-conscious thoughts flows.
  • And whether people admit it or not… and I feel this is a strong fact out there that needs to be accepted:
    • Yes, there are people out there who are doing/saying/thinking negative things about you. They are judging you… They are laughing… And they might be better than you when it comes to certain things. It may be 1% or 10% of the people in your life, depending on where you are at any given moment. But here’s my point: You can’t change it… it’s them, not you. You only control you. So don’t let it hold you back. Just let yourself know it’s happening, but limit how/where/when it truly affects you. Don’t let it consume you.

Immature / Inexperience

  • When you are younger, you don’t know any better. You haven’t learned a lot key lessons, ones which help build your confidence, esteem and sense of worth.
  • If you know less, you feel inferior. That is, until you realize, learning is a life-long process. And not knowing something is an opportunity to improve and gain knowledge. It’s not about focusing on what you don’t know, but how you will amass or absorb it.
  • It takes many years to realize that people are so often caught up in their own insecurities and self-esteem, they are NOT thinking about you as much as you think they are. And when you realize people aren’t focused on you, you relax a little… allowing yourself to be less critical about the things you worry over.
  • At some point, you will reach the moment we all have at various points in our life: “Who really cares?”

  • So what if you are more good-looking, smarter, thinner, richer, etc.? Why is it always a comparison? There are several billion people on this planet… we will NEVER know who is the best at anything even when someone wins that title. Not everyone participates. Some people live under a rock (exaggeration… I know)… and therefore the rest of us will never know how good that person is.
    • Too many people to worry
    • Too much else to enjoy
    • It stops you from your own purpose
    • It’s never-ending
  • So… accept that it’s a continuous journey and not a race to get to a point of perfection. (Yes, the perfectionist, who isn’t perfect and knows it, just said that).

Given everything I’ve said, a few things on my mind:

  1. I will always be self-conscious about certain things, but each time it happens, I push myself to determine why it’s important… and then find a way to lessen the impact.
  2. If it’s something I can change, and it’s important to me to change it, then I work on a path to do so.
  3. If it’s not something I can change, then I let it go. Find your triggers. Make small in-roads to re-routing your thoughts. And if you can’t… move on. Other things need better focus.
  4. Find the thing you feel even better about, and tell yourself that’s the piece that matters… not what you don’t feel good about. Be positive.
  5. Don’t focus on what the other people are doing… only yourself in this situation: it is acceptable to do such a thing and not considered selfish.

That said… I’m gonna tell myself I have that sexy librarian nerd look when I wear my glasses today while working out at the gym. And anyone looking at me just wants to get lucky with me, even tho I’ll be a sweaty mess bouncing around all over the place. And it’s not because I’m using the exercise machine the wrong way — it’s because I’m awesome!  😛

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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365 Challenge: Day 32 – Defensive

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Defensive: (1) very anxious to challenge or avoid criticism, or (2) used or intended to defend or protect

The best explanation I could give for how I have been known to be defensive is a work-related situation. One of my mentors, who knew me quite well, once pulled me out of a meeting, to highlight an example of how I was being defensive. This is where it gets funny… when you hear the word defensive, you likely think argumentative, disruptive and generally annoying. For me, it was quite the opposite. Apparently, and I don’t like admitting this, if a decision was made in a meeting that I didn’t like or support, my body language gave me away. I might have thrown out my opinion, and sometimes I didn’t weigh in if I knew I hadn’t a snowball’s chance in… never mind… point being… I apparently shut down. My expression went sour. My arms folded themselves across my chest. I sat back in the chair at the conference table. And I didn’t speak for the rest of the meeting. It was a silent defense system, more commonly known as pouting!

For the record, I respect Annalise Keating!

You’re thinking… that’s silly. Nothing you’ve said in the last 31 posts seems like you could have done that. Oh, but I did. And I fully admit it. I am a very defensive person, but I work on it regularly to try and let it dissipate. When my mentor (and boss) pulled me out the meeting, (s)he explained what (s)he saw, told me I’d never move up if I couldn’t learn to interact more professionally, and that it was immature.

I wonder which one I am in this little video…

My immediate reaction: “You’re wrong!” No, I didn’t say that… I accepted the feedback, returned to the room… (s)he told everyone there was a confidential production emergency and that’s why (s)he called me out to ask me to get someone to fix it, as (s)he was a very caring boss… From that moment on, I’ve been super conscious of my external behavior and how I’m being seen.

For that matter, I can also admit I was a defensive child, too. I never liked to be told I was wrong. Being wrong and me in the same sentence didn’t make much sense. I’d run off and hide if that ever happened. As I get older, I find myself seeing lots of situations where my facts or opinion are wrong or insufficient. I deal with it in a healthy way these days. I grab a drink and then go hide. Then everyone just thinks I’m thirsty. 😛

But it’s still lingering there on the surface. I don’t like being this way, but I know that I am. I attribute it to my father. He’s very defensive too. So I know I inherited the behavior, through either DNA or learned actions. Never in a horrible or mean way… just enough that it made me a bit more human. I’ve often been called robotic, so I suppose, this is a sign that I, too, have faults. Yuck. I hate saying that aloud.

But being defensive means you have passion. And passion can be healthy. It’s all a matter of perspective and control. If you’re defensive, you care about something strongly. Perhaps you want to protect it. It’s not always a bad thing.

Though I’m not a big sports guy, there’s always the offense and the defense within a game. Defense is there for a reason: to protect something and help ensure it is either given the path it needs or able to contain something long enough for the win.

I wonder what that guy was trying to defend?

Being defensive as a person should be a sign that you have something worth protecting. Then it’s just a matter of how to handle it professionally, with a courteous and considerate approach. At this point in my life and career, it’s really a very minimal issue… in fact, I’m more concerned about people seeing it, so I almost never let it show or happen. And that’s progress!

Any other defensive folks out there? How do you help keep it in check?

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.

365 Challenge: Day 29 – Pensive

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Pensive: engaged in, involving, or reflecting deep or serious thought

The word pensive brings to mind Hamlet’s question of “To be, or not to be,” a (wo)man in the throes of the unknown and undecided, lost in indulgent analysis and trapped by an inertia, holding on for dear life. OK, that’s quite negative and exaggerated… but it’s not too far off from my truth.

The brain is a willful and strong organ within our body. It runs without its owner even realizing it; yet, at the same time, when the owner focuses, (s)he knows they are deep in thought. Thought is a powerful concept. And when you are in reflection, contemplating small and big things, you are being pensive. Pensive is a state-of-mind, a transfer of consciousness from the norm and reachable, to the distant and preoccupied.

 

I’m often pensive. I am a thinker. I cover hundreds of topics, images, thoughts and questions throughout the day — all willingly and consciously — challenging myself to push the envelope further and further as time goes by. Sometimes the momentary focus is about the purpose of life, and at others, it is whether or not it’s time to re-model the bathroom. I like thinking. I enjoy questioning. I love getting caught up in the process of considering things that are around me.

Though I’ve confessed to being obsessive, I’m not obsessive about being pensive. And I’ve noted that I’m pragmatic, hence not getting too caught up weighing the pros and cons of a decision, taking forever to finally decide. It’s a fine balance between the two, resulting in people often seeing me as “too much in my head.”

And that’s really the definition of being pensive — being too much in one’s head, in the clouds. Instead of actually getting out and taking a chance by following through on some action or decision, your mind critically analyzes and ponders, considering all the options and outcomes. Wondering how to go about something, what it may be, rather than letting it just happen. It means enjoying thinking about something more than actually doing said something. Sometimes it can drive a person crazy.

  • Pensive can be good. It can be relaxing. It’s a form of meditation and energy.
  • Pensive can be bad. It can hold you back, a way to create false boundaries and limits.

While I can be completely lost in a thought, I am not the type to lose my connection with my surroundings all too often. I may not realize someone’s called my name, or perhaps I miss the rain drops starting to fall for a few moments… but the depth or the degree of the lost consciousness in minimal. It’s like the very first and early stage of sleep; you know things are happening around you, but the temptation isn’t strong enough that you can ignore the sensations.

For me, it’s that I rather enjoy thinking and less doing (unless it we’re talking about completing tasks of things on my To Do list). I’m not saying I am lazy. I’m just saying I am more comfortable and in a natural state when I am pondering, rather than acting on ideas like skiing or fencing (eh, seemed like appropriate things). I respect those that are more active in their day, feeling the energy from an intense work-out. My energy comes from processing ideas and emotions… creating images and sounds in my head that drive realizations and memories.

Have you ever watched someone who is lost in thought? Noticed the focus of their eyes? The awkward position they may be sitting or standing in? Watched the circular path they seem trapped by? And then that moment when they realize how far they’ve gone, startled back into reality? Sometimes they recognize where they are. Others, it’s as if they’ve no idea how they got to that place. Powerful. Strong. Intense. Pensive.

I often think I’d like to be a little less pensive, a step or two removed from always feeling the forces that hold me back from just doing something. It happens sometimes, but like the 80/20 rule, and perhaps 90/10 in my case, it is my mind that overworks itself before the action follows through. Inventors are pensive. Poets are pensive. Dreamers are pensive. Creators are pensive.

And so is “The Thinker,” Rodin’s famous French sculpture. See here for more on this statue. I often feel like this bronze creation… and I think I’m good with that. How about you? Are you a thinker? Or are you a doer?  Doer… such a weirdly spelled word… almost seems wrong.

About Me & the “365 Daily Challenge”

I’m Jay. I am 40 and live in NYC. By profession, I work in technology. By passion, I work in writing. I’ve always been a reader. And now I’m a daily blogger. I decided to start my own version of the “365 Daily Challenge” where since March 13, 2017, I’ve posted a characteristic either I currently embody or one I’d like to embody in the future. 365 days of reflection to discover who I am and what I want out of life.

The goal: Knowledge. Acceptance. Understanding. Optimization. Happiness. Help. For myself. For others. And if all else fails, humor. When I’m finished in one year, I hope to have more answers about the future and what I will do with the remainder of my life. All aspects to be considered. It’s not just about a career, hobbies, residence, activities, efforts, et al. It’s meant to be a comprehensive study and reflection from an ordinary man. Not a doctor. Not a therapist. Not a friend. Not an encyclopedia full of prior research. Just pure thought, a blogged journal with true honesty.

Join the fun and read a new post each day, or check out my book reviews, TV/Film reviews or favorite vacation spots. And feel free to like, rate, comment or take the poll for each post.

365 Challenge: Day 9 – Envious

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Envious: demonstrating a longing to possess something awarded to or achieved by another

Everyone is envious at some point in his or her life; it is impossible to go about your day without ever thinking “I want this” or “I should have that.” Just doing this daily challenge, I’m noting characteristics I would like to have or change. To me, that is envious.

I’ve always thought of the word “envious” as a bad thing. The green-eyed jealousy monster. Stay away! But perhaps this is where envy and jealousy have a slight difference to them: jealousy implies a negative connotation and denotation whereas envy might come across with a bit more optimism.

You can be envious of how good someone looks or the new job (s)he was offered without seeming to have that underlying bitterness over who should have gotten it first (or at all).

I know I can be both envious and jealous. I have always been a “grass is greener on the other side” kind of guy. When I was younger, I would get angry or upset if someone else beat me (Note, I still can’t stand to lose, especially at cards… I have to win all the time) or got something I wanted. A sort of childish reaction, sometimes accompanied with putting up a wall between that person and myself… even into my late 20s, I think I still had more remnants of that behavior that one should have as an adult.

I really never wanted for anything (life’s staples, you know, things of substance) as a child. I had all the necessities, nothing missing to be able to eat, sleep, drink and be sheltered. Yes, I am lucky and grateful. Perhaps because I never truly needed something to survive, my envy or jealousy of trivial things was that much more impassioned.

When I say that I was envious when younger, I don’t mean in a very obvious and negative way. It wasn’t a regular thing. It wasn’t a big scene where I acted out. It was more a quiet acknowledgement inside my mind and body that I wanted something and I deserved it, and I didn’t like that someone else had it before me. Remember, I’m shy… so I don’t often do things to draw attention to myself.

As I’ve aged, it’s certainly been minimized; however, it’s present enough that I notice it as a general first “go-to” type of behavior when I see someone else got that perfect new job I am still looking for, or someone else received a huge annual bonus and it sounds like it was more than my last one. There are a few of those remaining traces left, generally focused around 2 or 3 topics of truly physical things, not emotional things.

Age brings comfort and happiness to the mind in many respects (I’m ignoring fear of sickness or death), and I’ve been lucky enough to be happy with my life; I don’t envy other people’s lives for those types of things. My mind is content with where I am and who I am; I know the things I need/want to change to be better instead of just because I want them. And that’s a really good thing because it means I’m achieved a great many things thus far.

But… how do you address that envy when it creeps up from time to time? What tools and techniques do you use to control it? For me, I think it starts with knowing what you are truly envious of. If you have envy, it means you want something you don’t have. So start with your list of wants.

Write ‘em down. Give yourself clear goals. Target dates. Check-in points. Figure out what’s realistic. And if it’s not realistic, focus on either (1) being envious in a good way and happy for the other people or (2) removing any trigger points that make you uncomfortable or unhappy about it. Challenge the energy behind the envy into the drive to move the dial on your goals. For instance…

I have always wanted to own and live in a mansion. A huge piece of property with an old-fashioned yet modern building and gardens, a long and winding driveway, and… you get the picture. But why? Perhaps status. Maybe freedom. Could be security. Do I have it right now? No… I live in NYC and do not have $10M to spend. Seriously, who does? And how do they make it happen? Can you help me? JUST KIDDING.

It’s been something I’ve wanted since childhood. But at the same time, I collect things for my current home, draft ideas of what would be good to have in the future, look at places where it may be the right environment to live, etc. And some day, perhaps I will have what ends up being my mansion, even if it’s not a mansion by anyone else’s standards. Note, I love my current apartment and it’s definitely nothing to complain about at all!

Another example…

I want to be a writer. So I write. Then I am a writer. But what I mean, is I want to be a published author. So I write. Then maybe I will become a published author. I am envious of authors. But I am not jealous. If it never happens, it never happens. But I know that I tried. I set out to write a book, which I’ve completed. And I’m starting to shop it with literary agents. I’m doing a lot to make it happen, so I’ve been able to stave off jealousy and replace it with hope and envy.

I’d like to hear from others about envy… how do you handle it? What do you do to control the impulse?

365 Challenge: Day 6 – Old Soul

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Old Soul: spiritual person whom is wise beyond their years; people of strong emotional stability. Basically, someone whom has more understanding of the world around them.

In honor of my 40th birthday, I chose the word “old soul” as today’s celebratory characteristic. I debated whether to go with “historical” or “old soul,” weighing their definitions and word types. An “old soul” is really more of a noun while “historical” is the adjective; however, the definition of “historical” was weak — basically, it means “of the past.” While ever thou is truest, it didn’t do justice to what I’m attempting to say about myself. So screw consistency today (ha!), I’m going with a noun.

When I think of an old soul, I don’t initially picture myself as one. Iffy on the spiritual part. Iffy on the understanding of the world around me part. Let’s not get into the emotional stability part. I don’t think it’s fair to comment on my own emotional stability, especially on the day I turn 40, typically the age most people consider their mid-life meltdown crisis. (Note, I’m not having one and don’t plan to either.)

But so much of who I am and what I enjoy doing is connected to the past, you know, historical. I am a genealogist. I read historical fiction. I enjoy the transition of power between various kings and queens of the past. I adore American’s Gilded Age. I wish I grew up in the 1960s. I ultimately enjoy the quieter and slower times of sitting around and observing all around me rather than engaging with every new modern toy and game on the market. But it’s really beyond that…

To me, an old soul not only echoes the past (the way they dress, the music they listen to, the books the read, the words they use), but deeply understands the past. Someone who wants to learn from the past and determine the best course for the future. No matter what task I choose, I always need to start from the beginning. Not when the issue first became a problem, or when it first was known. How did it begin? Take me on a tour of its existence and paint a picture of everything surrounding it. Help me understand its purpose down to the very core of its creation. And embrace it.

If I’m walking on land that has some personal connection to the past, I yearn to know what it was like for those who walked before me. If I’m looking at picture someone painted, I create an image of the room in which it was painted and wonder what happened there. If I hear a two-century old piece of music, I wonder what the artist went through at the time to change the face of music and give the world what it has today.

What I lack as an old soul is that spiritual quality or essence that is rare in most people. Occasionally, you’ll see and feel it from someone without ever having exchanged a word. That’s not me. I have no hidden talents of getting feelings from someone unless it’s outwardly and specifically communicated. And even then, I am sometimes the one who says “Are you being sarcastic or did you mean that?” I lack this quality with people where I feel energized and full of it with places and things.

How is that possible to be both? To feel the power of things from the past but not from people? I think it comes down to subjectivity. With people, they can tell you if you are right or wrong. Things cannot. You can learn new information and change your opinion or feelings from things, but ultimately, what you feel from an object is your interpretation of its history and existence. The blanket your great-grandmother knitted… The glasses on your mantle brought from Victorian England… The doorstop cast during America’s colonial settlement.

What I enjoy having as an old soul are the feelings of having past lives. Every so often, when I’m performing some activity or visually seeing some historical site, it’s as if I can recall being in that place. I’m not exactly transported there, but I have a small connection that makes me remember I’m more than just Jay who was born in Florida on March 18th, 1977. And for those of us lucky enough to have those moments where you without question believe and sense what you conquered before you were born, it’s a feeling unlike any other.

I think maybe I will look further into past-life regressions… I’ve been looking for something new to study, to learn, to embrace. Learning what’s real and not real in this topic would be a challenging and interesting experience. For those of you who haven’t see “Defending Your Life,” with Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep, please rent the movie. Not only does it speak volumes to me about how one should live a life, but it shows how the past can be connected to everything you do today.

So… whereas my post said I am not very spiritual in the beginning, perhaps I am more than I thought I was. And a bit closer to being that full old soul I want to be.