Self-consciousness, what drives it? Why do we seek validation or approval? Is it not enough to be satisfied with our own opinions concerning matters pertaining to ourselves? Societal pressures often cause people to pander to this need of being accepted by the collective whole. I get it, collectivism can be very supportive. It can feel good, and can foster a sense of “belonging”. A lot of people feel the need to be liked by others. There is nothing wrong with this, unless it harms the person themselves or others around them. I know of people who choose not to act a certain way, or will choose not to do something because of a fear of “what will other people think?” This has the disabling ability of controlling someone’s actions or inactions. If you spent your life concentrating on what everyone else thought of you, would you forget who you really were? Would you not follow a path that you otherwise would have? Would you miss out on activities that you really wanted to try because of the fear of being judged or laughed at?
Social media seems to have magnified this need of being “liked”. The number of likes, or lack thereof, concern us on our social media pages, triggering a sense of social anxiety. Why do we let social media platforms have power over how we feel about ourselves or lead us to question our posts? The number of likes should not justify the validity of the actual thing itself – whether it is a photo posted on Instagram, or a status posted on Facebook, or a tweet on Twitter. Moreover, it should not have the power to influence our self-esteem. Self-esteem should come from within, not from external sources. The danger of letting self-esteem grow from external sources is that it can build you up, but it can just as equally bring you down.
Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Why then, does consent seem to be given automatically, unless we make the conscious effort not to. We make ourselves vulnerable. We try to convince ourselves that we do not actually care. We work so hard to overcome self-consciousness, yet it seems to be an ongoing battle.
There are people who are blessed to have a nonchalant air about them. They are quite content by simply being themselves without an ounce of concern about the opinions of others. I often wonder though, if this is a facade or even a coping mechanism they tell themselves – fake it until you make it? Although, I hope it is genuine…and if it is, I truly admire them for it. After all, when it comes to self-esteem, the most important factor is how you feel about yourself. Pay attention to what makes you feel at your best or happiest. Encourage your self-esteem to be grown from within.