Let me be the first to extend a big warm welcome to the self-conscious club. My journey to battling my self-consciousness was a bizarre one (it’s in the book) and I can’t really tell people to go out and replicate it (but you can read about it and feel inspired).
If I had to pick a starting point, it would be to have a very frank conversation with your brain. I believe that being self-conscious is a form of mental illness in itself because our brains distort reality in ways that eat away at our lives. It’s your brain’s emotional side that loves to distort things. Sit down with it and make sure it understands the more rational side of things.
Your brain needs to know that you are not alone. In fact, you are not even part of a minority. A majority of us feel this, especially in the gay community (hence “welcome to the club”). And, in an odd way, you being self-conscious isn’t as much about you as it is about us as a whole. There is a bigger problem at hand here.
Your brain needs to know that all those “perfect guys” on Instagram (and the likes) are also really self-conscious. Even though fitness can lead to body-acceptance, body-acceptance is not always achieved through fitness. For a lot of us, enough is never enough. We continue to look at ourselves wishing we looked like someone else.
Your brain needs to know that other people do not see you the way YOU see you. What you see as your biggest flaws are things other people hardly see or don’t really care about. Other people can ignore them in favor of your positive attributes while you ignore those positive attributes by only focusing on the things you don’t like.
Your brain needs to know that, when you get older, you will not look back on your life and be glad you spent all those years disliking yourself. You will not be thankful that it held you back from doing things you had wished you’d done. And you cannot get that time back.
There are probably other things your brain needs to know that are more relevant to your specific self-consciousness. Figure those out and tell those to your brain too. Your brain will not want to listen. It will throw tantrums. But don’t give up. Show your brain who is boss.
Once your brain says, “Okay, fine. I will accept these things,” then I would say you have reached your starting point. The next part is to put it all into action. Get outside of your comfort zone to realize that the world won’t crumble when you put yourself out there. This is how you gain confidence.