Can you think of times when you were paralyzed by fear because you believed you were going to be perceived negatively by those around you?
Perhaps a speech you didn't give, a fear of approaching someone in a higher-level position than you at work, a joke that you didn't tell at a party because you just didn't know if it would come off funny?
On the other hand, is there a time in your life when you felt quite confident about yourself only to find out later that perhaps there was more room for refinement than you thought?
What we've just described is the delicate balance between being too self-aware (over-analyzing, anxiety and fear of embarrassment) preventing us from being who we wish to be versus a lack of self-awareness that prevents us from seeing things as they really are so we can improve.
Your Beliefs About Yourself
There is nothing more directly related to your place in life right now than your beliefs (and resulting thoughts and behaviors) about yourself.
Those beliefs have largely come from your interaction with others (your parents early on, your friends and peers in school, your relationship with authority figures such as teachers and coaches, and your significant other in later life)
More correctly, your beliefs about yourself are guided by your degree of self-awareness.
In certain situations, you have done significant self-analysis to the degree that you have played out entire social situations in your head, most of the time feeding anxiety and fear resulting in a sort of paralysis.
In other situations, you have chosen to "not give a damn" and stop reading social queues deciding instead to just go for it.
While that can be a healthy way to overcome initial anxiety and fear, eliminating self awareness altogether can limit your progress as it is the queues from others that help us to receive and ultimately react to feedback.
Let's take a simple example…
Assume your dream has always been to get up in front of others and sing, but you have a fundamental belief that you aren't talented enough to win over your friends and strangers who will see you.
In other words, you have self-assessed yourself into a state of paralysis, so the only singing you do is in the shower.
Putting self-awareness on hold and reversing the damage done via negative beliefs will eventually allow you to overcome your fear and go for it.
This can happen with a combination of challenging your beliefs, modelling others who have been in your shoes and gone ahead, and building acceptance among a small group before you expand your social interaction.
Now, let's say you overcome that initial challenge, now you are on your way…but this is where self-assessment comes in again as you want to still be able to handle constructive ( or otherwise) criticism to help you improve WITHOUT stopping you from going for it.
Balancing Self Awareness And Faith
At the end of the day, we all need to balance the ability to ignore our intrinsic desire to be accepted and the self awareness that can paralyze us from trying things with the self confidence to be self-aware in order to obtain feedback that will help us improve.
Some of the most successful (and happiest) people I have known in my life have the incredible ability to fearlessly try things (ignoring the instinct to over-analyze the downside) balanced with the thick skin to solicit and interpret feedback channeling this into improvement rather than shaking their belief in their ability to continue.
In the end, being able to act on your beliefs, overcome initial fear and anxiety and control self awareness to improve quickly is heavily dependent on having a healthy self confidence level (Something I strongly recommend you work through with Get Unstuck In Life Plan – a wonderful process that unlocks your true potential and change your life for the better)
Can you do a better job balancing self awareness with fearless charging ahead in your life?
Let us know how this impacts your life by leaving a comment.