When children are over- or under-protected, they miss out on being curious and playful, on making mistakes, on learning. They may grow up to lack confidence in their ability to make good life decisions and to keep themselves safe. This perceived lack of competence often causes them great anxiety and leads to spending too much time and energy critiquing their every thought, word and action.
If you struggle with being overly self-conscious, you are likely high on self-awareness and low on self-acceptance. Begin now to acquire a healthy sense of self that will involve taking risks, making mistakes and, if you're doing it right, being silly. You owe it to yourself and to the next generation; an anxious, overly self-conscious parent often produces a child with the same crippling approach to life.
Some indicators that you're self-obsessed:
• You think everything that happens or doesn't is somehow about you.
• You try to control other people's feelings and accuse them of controlling yours.
• You sift everything that happens through your sense of entitlement, worth, needs.
• You feel vulnerable or victimized most of the time.
• You waste time and energy monitoring the way you walk, talk, look, perform and still feel you've messed up.
• You constantly rehash every daily event, berating yourself or revelling in every moment of glory.
• You think people are focusing on you more than they really are and you edit your behaviour accordingly.
• You dress for the approval of others rather than your own quirky sense of style.
• Your every communication starts with “I” and focuses on what you are thinking, feeling, doing, etc.
• You commandeer every conversation with your own -- worse or better -- experience.
• When you look up the word “narcissism” it sounds like you.
Ways to obsess less and enjoy life more:
• Tackle one issue at a time (i.e., shyness, low self-esteem, negative attitude).
• Trust friends who tell you to get over yourself when you become self-focused.
• Be realistic; perfection doesn't exist.
• Give yourself time to learn how to balance your perspectives and enjoy life more.
• Decide that when it comes to rating yourself, good enough is good enough.
• Get a handle on what's made you so uptight and talk it through.
• Deal with your emotional extremes; be curious and not critical.
• Listen to your instincts when you sense unsafe people or situations nearby.
• Relax. Trust yourself. You're in good hands - yours.
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Dr. Marion Goertz is a registered marriage and family therapist. Visit her website at www.mariongoertz.com.