Self-consciousness is the feeling that everyone’s watching you, and that you need to be on “high alert.”
But let’s dig deeper. How does this self-consciousness manifest itself in the body?
Many times, it results in a feeling that you’re “holding back”. Maybe you’re holding back love and passion from others – and yourself. Or, on the flip side, you may be holding back from expressing your sadness, boredom, fear, or anger.
The Consequences of Constriction
All these forms of holding back share a commonality: that is, there’s constriction in your body. A tightening and closing off. And although this suppression can restrict your ability to freely express yourself, there are indicators that will alert you – letting you know if you’re holding back from expressing your true self, or if you’re allowing the real you to shine through and radiate outward to others.
The following body sites are important to self-consciousness and self-expression. Using my guided meditation, Transform Self-Consciousness Into Self-Expression, you can use these sites to make changes as you move from self-conscious restriction to freer expression of your authentic self.
When you are feeling self-conscious, you will experience a tightening in your face, especially around the zygomatic sutures. What’s happening is that you’re hiding your true self, and you are physically and energetically closing yourself off. It’s a way of hiding your emotions, and the physical sensations hint at your attempt to not be seen by others.
Conversely, when you open up to your true feelings, you’ll sense an opening in this area. Your entire eye sockets may feel softer, as if you are now open to others seeing you… and more open to seeing your internal sense of self. As your facial muscles continue to relax, how you see the world will change, along with how you view yourself.
When you feel tightness at the back of your neck, this correlates to inhibiting expression of your own emotions. Once again, you are literally and figuratively holding back those emotions in your neck in an effort to exert self-control. You may even feel that your head is being pulled back slightly.
Because this pulls your head up and back, others may perceive you as arrogant and think that you’re looking down at them, but in reality it’s the constriction that causes you to assume that position.
Your first and second vertebrae, just below your skull, relate to your personal power, so when you release the tension at the back of your neck, you open the floodgates to personal power and self-expression. The more freedom and movement you experience at this body site, the more fully you’re able to express yourself.
The phrase “butterflies in your belly” is more than just a metaphor: it’s your body’s way of communicating its nervousness about expressing yourself. First, it’s important to note that what you feel in your ‘belly’ could more specifically be a sensation in your small intestine, duodenum, ascending colon, or descending colon.
The small intestine encompasses your sense of self, and this is the site where you feel those proverbial “butterflies.” When you’re worried about expressing your true self, this area will embody this worry, and when you’re free to express yourself, the small intestine becomes calm.
If you feel shame about who you are, you’ll feel it in the duodenum – the site people commonly refer to as the stomach, even though the duodenum is located just below the stomach. How do you know you’re experiencing feelings of shame? Typical sensations include a queasy, dark feeling. As you begin to freely express yourself, those uncomfortable, sickly feelings will subside. The Air We Breathe: Facing Our Shame provides more information about how to transform your feelings of shame.
The ascending colon houses anything you’ve hidden from yourself in the earliest years of life – from birth to about age 3 ½ . The descending colon, on the other hand, is the site where you store things you’ve hidden from others from age 3 ½ to the current time. Fortunately, these areas will relax as you begin to release those inhibited and limiting emotions.
Releasing Your Inhibitions
When you first begin releasing these emotions, you may become aware of pain or discomfort in certain parts of your body. Understand that the aches were always there, but you closed off your awareness of the pain. As you bring more awareness to your emotions, you’ll release what you were holding back and simultaneously let go of the pain that was trapped there for so long.
And remember, physical pain isn’t the only repercussion. My article, The Psychology of Self-Consciousness, highlights the psychological suffering that results from self-consciousness – and reinforces the need for healing so that you can liberate yourself from the pain and begin to express yourself more freely.
Let the Healing Begin
As part of the healing process, you’ll begin to experience increased physical mobility and fluidity. And then, there’s the sweet reward: enhanced self-expression. Finally, you will feel freer physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Even your breath will become more relaxed. Eventually, those formerly “protective” barriers – which did more harm than good – will dissolve, and you will now be able to fully express, enjoy and recognize the positive aspects of yourself.
Because those positive aspects were there all along… they were just waiting for you to catch up with them.
If you’re ready to put an end to your own limiting behaviors, thoughts, and feelings, use the use my guided meditation, Transform Self-Consciousness to Self-Expression. This guided meditation will focus in on the body sites that specifically inhibit your freedom of self-expression. To get a glimpse of how profound this meditation can be, read about Andy’s journey toward self-expression in Andy’s Journey from Self-Consciousness to Self-Expression.
As you release those bottled up emotions, you will finally begin to enjoy the benefits of letting others see the real you.
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