Feeling Uncomfortable In Your Own Skin? Feel Better...
Sometimes you just want to crawl back into your shell. (If only humans had shells.)
And that's OK...it happens to all of us sometimes.
It takes strength to admit the little bit of insecurity we all feel from time to time. Feeling uncomfortable in your own skin is a natural part of the human experience--and so is learning how to be comfortable in your own skin--as we grow from noisy infant into testy teenager, and finally into awkward adult.
(We're all a little awkward, aren't we? Well, some of us are a lot awkward. Anyway...)
The important thing is knowing your propensity for that insecurity. That's what will make all the difference between enjoying your days and moping in misery.
Why it happens
Shyness / Feeling that you're not "acceptable" enough to others
Common trap. The mystery of shyness (just one kind of insecurity) somehow manages to convince us that other people won't "accept" us as we are. At work, at school, at social events--we clam up. We hide out. We even try to avoid contact with people, fearing the negative evaluations of other flawed human beings.
The more outgoing sort isn't immune to this either. Instead of "hiding out," we might "show off" around people or put on some kind of act to divert attention from our timidity. One might observe this kind of behavior at a local bar, college party--in fact, any place where beverages with the ingredient alcohol are served!
Photo credit: Nicholas Tarling / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Lack of self-confidence / feeling like you're not accomplished enough
Another common conundrum. If you don't feel like you've attained your goals in life thus far--be they about education, career, or relationships, you're more than likely wondering how to be comfortable in your own skin.
Even the simple sense that you haven't "found yourself" yet can produce that feeling. It goes something like this: You don't fully know who you are. Therefore, you don't know what image you're presenting to the world. As a result, you feel discomfort around others, not knowing exactly what it is they're seeing in you. It could be a character flaw, an unsubstantiated belief, a zit on your forehead. You just don't know, and that can be a troubling thought.
Why it's A-OK
Wasn't expecting this one, huh? It's actually OK to feel uncomfortable in your skin. Emotions, both good and bad ones, are generally good things, for these reasons:
It means you're human
Surprise! You're not a bird, nor a plane...no, you're not Superman either. Sorry. But you are human. And there are many great things about being human. You get to see things, hear things, feel things, and understand things. And, you can relate to every other human being on the planet. You're not the first to want to jump out of your own skin. Many of us, if not all, have felt that way at some point or on occasion.
It means you're alive
Feeling something--be it warmth or cold, confidence or insecurity--reminds you of an essential fact: you're alive. The gift of life, in of itself is a wonderful, mysterious thing.
Did you realize that you're breathing right now? (I'm betting you didn't. It's OK; I forget sometimes too.) Take a few seconds, close your eyes, breathe in and out, and meditate on the magic that is being alive.
It means you care
That is, you care about your own well-being. You want to make sure the image you present to the world is one that accurately represents who you are. You'd feel more at home around others if you knew you were appreciated for your faults, quirks and all.
You are caring deeply about a person; that person just happens to be yourself. But because you do care, you're capable of turning that inward, self-serving insecurity into real, fulfilling, outward connections with others.
How to be comfortable in your own skin - the path to enlightenment
It's hard to do sometimes. It can be a pretty nebulous, hard-to-implement idea. But it's possible. An easy way to start is to love certain things about yourself. At the risk of rehashing ubiquitous self-help advice...
...write down a list of your good traits. The things you like about yourself, your good qualities and traits, the things that other people appreciate about you. Sell yourself to yourself; treat it like a job interview. (In fact, it's pretty good preparation for job interviews anyway.) Then, reflect on that list and realize your awesomeness as an individual. Know that these things constitute value you can add to other people's lives, if you'll only let yourself.
Some more optional homework: make a list of the things you would like to change or improve about yourself, and then draw up a specific plan of baby steps to achieve those goals. Reward yourself when you do achieve those objectives.
This one almost goes without saying. Reaching outside of yourself is crucial to developing comfort with yourself. Reach out in spite of your fears. By making yourself a compassionate, progressive member of society, you enhance your own self-worth while bringing smiles to others. Remember, other people experience insecurity, too. We all do. When you understand that, you know you're not alone. Now it's your turn to make others feel less alone. The more effort you put into encouraging others, the more you'll get in return.
Get practice, get experience
It takes time, but there's really no substitute. The more accustomed you get to being your authentic self around others, the more comfortable you'll start to feel. You'll digest the knowledge that you're fine just the way you are.
You'll learn that the skin you're in isn't so bad after all.
Recommended reading, specially chosen
A few of my other hubs
- Why the Heck Is Writing So Hard?
Writing: a most complex and elusive art form. It can be blissful one minute and can make you want to poke your eyes out the next. In this hub, I explore some of the reasons why.
- The Power of an Open Mind
Open your mind, and suddenly fantastic things become possible. You'll wonder how you'd ever lived this thing called
- Novel Solutions for Fear of Success and Fear of Fail...
Fear of Success and Fear of Failure--two monsters that are easy to scare away. Watch them run home crying when you employ these little-known techniques.