When I took my Pilates certification course, I was 20 years old. I was the second youngest of the 30 women there, but that had little to do with my anxiety when I got assessed. I was always a self-conscious person. Constantly second-guessing myself, an incessant voice in my head telling me what I was doing wrong—never encouraging me for what went right.
So when I got assessed as a water safety instructor yesterday, I knew this part of me would bubble up from my psyche (it’s pretty near the surface as it is). But this time I was prepared. I’m 13 years older now (a woman never tells her age, but may hint to it using simple arithmetic…) and I know this side of myself. She comes up every time I start a new job or learn a new skill.
So when I became nervous and super self-conscious, and the thoughts of self-doubt barraged my mind, I welcomed all of that. I noticed it. “Yes, here we are again. How comfortable, right!” I thought to myself sarcastically.
I noted when my self-consciousness was at its highest levels and I tried my darndest to not let it impact my performance—the swim lesson I was teaching.
At one point I heard myself making an excuse for why I did something wrong. Then I stopped myself and said, “That’s an excuse. Okay, let’s just move on.” Instead of spiraling further into that excuse which was the direction which I was headed in.
Growing up one learns more about themselves. And while often we can’t eradicate those parts of ourselves for which we feel shame, we can reduce the shame. By growing in self-knowledge and self-awareness, we can shine greater self-acceptance and self-compassion on our foibles. And when we do, we will live more productive—and happier!—lives.