What to do about excessive self-consciousness?
June 26, 2006 8:44 PM Subscribe
I'm incredibly self-conscious and I don't know what to do about it.
I wasn't always this way, though it started when I was pretty young (I'd say around the beginning of middle school or so.) For what it's worth in terms of understanding my situation, I've been diagnosed as high-functioning autistic by three different doctors, including a long and complicated evaluation, so I'm reasonably sure there's something going on there.
This self-consciousness just gradually developed as I committed faux pas after faux pas, completely inadvertently. I usually have the intelligence to figure out why said faux pas was what it was after the fact, but strangely this does not translate into any sort of predictive intelligence about these things. I'm acutely aware of my inability to predict them, and it leads me to be constantly afraid of screwing up, to the point that I don't go out and do things because I'm too scared by this feeling of utter powerlessness to navigate social situations. My measure of myself is warped; I can't get a good read on what my good points are (I generally de-emphasize them in favor of focusing on my weaknesses. Sometimes the pendulum swings the other way and I overestimate myself.)
The balanced, relaxed perspective that comes with confidence completely eludes me. I'm uncomfortable in my own skin, all day, every day. I'm constantly stressed and I can't relax. I don't really have anyone I can talk to about it, either; most of the answers I've gotten in the past have been well-meaning but useless advice in the vein of "don't care what others think/be yourself/etc." like it's something I can just do at will. It's not. And I have no idea how to even begin working toward it. Every time I manage to convince myself that my screwing up in some disastrous way is not a foregone conclusion, it happens and I'm that much more reluctant to venture out the next time.
I realize that a good answer to this may be "get thee to a therapist"; however, I have no health insurance at the moment and I won't until the fall. It's on my list of things to do when I'm able, but I can't do anything about it right now.
With the (copious, sorry, but I felt it was necessary and am still not sure it's even enough to convey what I'm feeling accurately) background out of the way, my question: how do I stop second-guessing everything I do? How do I relax? If you were acutely self-conscious and overcame it somehow, what worked for you?