Self-conscious emotions are those affected by how we see ourselves and how we think others perceive us. They include emotions like pride, jealousy, and embarrassment.
Self-consciousness and self-awareness are sometimes healthy signs of emotional maturity. They can help you fit in and function within a community. Feeling guilty after saying something hurtful is often perceived as showing good character. Feeling remorse after making a mistake may help patch up relationships. Positive self-conscious emotions and negative self-conscious emotions can be healthy and powerful motivators.
Excessive self-conscious emotions can be extremely unhealthy. They may worsen symptoms from conditions like anxiety, depression, and borderline personality disorder. They can also cause social anxiety and isolation.
Having self-conscious emotions in moderate amounts is healthy. Having overwhelming self-conscious emotions isn’t.
Symptoms of healthy self-conscious emotions include:
- having pride in accomplishments
- enjoying engaging in social environments
- apologizing for mistakes and taking responsibility
Symptoms of unhealthy self-conscious emotions include:
- responding to embarrassment with anger and hostility
- avoiding social experiences
- placing blame on others for one’s mistakes
- feeling responsible for wrongs made against yourself
- having low self-esteem
- experiencing agitation, anxiety, depression, or nervousness
Self-conscious emotions develop in relation to an understanding of rules, standards, and goals. Young children start to form a sense of self at around 18 months old. This is when self-conscious emotions start developing. Many children have a full range of self-conscious emotions by the age of 3.
Adolescents are particularly prone to high levels of self-consciousness. At this age, children are experiencing significant social pressure for the first time.
Low self-esteem can cause unhealthy self-conscious emotions. You may dwell on negative conscious emotions as a result of mental health conditions. These conditions may include:
- borderline personality disorder (BPD)
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
Healthy self-conscious emotions have many benefits. Pride often drives people to work hard for accomplishments. Confidence gives us the self-esteem boost we need to take on new challenges. Even negative self-conscious emotions have a positive role in our lives. Jealousy helps us determine what we want most.
Self-consciousness comes from self-awareness. The emotions that come from them help us perceive how we fit into society. Self-awareness helps us improve social functioning. Violating a group’s social rules causes guilt, shame, and embarrassment. While uncomfortable and disconcerting, these emotions can result in social acceptance.
Unhealthy self-consciousness can result in social anxiety. This can lead to isolation, which in turn increases the social anxiety further. It may also result in low self-esteem and depression.
Self-conscious emotions can also prevent healing from traumatic events. This is especially true in patients with mental health conditions. One
People may avoid medical care if they feel certain self-conscious emotions. A
There are many ways to treat unhealthy or excessive self-conscious emotions. To promote a more positive self-image and boost self-esteem, you can:
- engage in activities that make you feel good about yourself
- write a list of accomplishments or traits that you’re proud of
- combat social anxiety by interacting with people in low-risk activities, such as making small talk with a cashier when buying groceries
- be punctual and keep your commitments, as the discipline this requires can raise self-value
- take responsibility for mistakes, and make amends if necessary
- avoid activities that can cause negative emotions like guilt or shame if you’re caught, such as lying or gossiping
- take a deep breath and practice mindfulness if you’re dwelling on past events that cause negative emotions
Make an appointment to see a certified counselor or psychologist if these methods don’t offer relief from persistent self-consciousness. A counselor can help you determine the cause of unhealthy self-conscious emotions and get you prescriptions to ease anxiety.
Self-conscious emotions are tied to self-awareness. Healthy self-conscious emotions can give you positive motivation and improve social functioning. Unhealthy and overwhelming self-conscious emotions can result in social anxiety and isolation.
Make an appointment to speak to a counselor or therapist if you think you’re struggling with overwhelming self-consciousness.