If you’re an adult who feels self-conscious around friends, this post is for you.
Here are 7 of the more common reasons you may be experiencing all that self-consciousness and feeling so unsure of yourself with your friends.
#1. Social Ambiguity In The Age of Half Friends
Living in the era of social media can be confusing and sometimes even scary. It’s confusing when our Facebook “friends” aren’t our friends, and the pictures we see on Instagram are a highlight reel that we unconsciously compare ourselves to. It can make us jealous and sometimes even resentful towards our friends. We’ve all had that feeling when we are around a particular friend, and we are never quite sure where we stand with them because their behavior towards us is unpredictable. We hesitate to tell them good news because we aren’t sure if they will be genuinely happy for us. This could be why we feel self-conscious around our friends because it feels like we are walking on thin ice and we never know when the ice will break beneath our feet.
People-pleasing is not our fault.
At the core of it, people-pleasing is a trauma response called fawning.
Fawning is when we go out of our way to mirror someone’s beliefs and opinions to appease them and protect us from potentially harmful situations. We do this to avoid conflict and the negative emotions we become familiar with as children.
If this behavior goes unaddressed when we reach adulthood, it can be a disservice to ourselves and our development. This behavior could also attract toxic people looking to capitalize on that.
Iyanla Vanzant once said “When you give yourself to the same degree that you sacrifice yourself, you make the other person the thief, and they don’t even know it.”
Blindly agreeing to things that don’t sit well with us is not “keeping the peace for the sake of….”. If it’s disrupting the peace within us, we shouldn’t be agreeing. Remember that.
#3. You Don’t Have Boundaries
We’ve all been there before. We’re hanging out with a friend, and they do something that makes us feel disrespected, or they say something hurtful, and instead of being confrontational, we let it go.
Well, your name isn’t Elsa, and this isn’t Arendelle.
We may think that having a friend who occasionally violates our boundaries isn’t bad. However, personal boundaries are essential. Boundaries allow us to show up as our best selves and protect us from disrespect.
#4. You Have An Anxious Attachment Style
Anxious Attachment is characterized as being preoccupied with how we are perceived in our relationships and, in turn, overanalyzing the relationship rather than actively participating in it.
Anxious Attachment symptoms:
- A constant need for intimacy and closeness
- A constant fear of being rejected or abandoned
- Difficulty trusting those around us
- Negative self-worth
- Craving the approval of others
Find out what your attachment style is by taking this free quiz!
Letting go of friendships can be challenging.
When we figure out what we want for ourselves, it can quickly become clear which friendships, habits, and behaviors are stopping us from getting there.
Maintaining our friendships may seem harmless until we realize that it requires us to put ourselves back into the box we’ve worked so hard to escape. When we find ourselves retreating to bad habits to fit in with our friends, it can become detrimental to our growth over time. We become like the people we spend the most time with, so if we feel this way about our inner circle, isn’t a circle. It’s a cage.
Personal Growth can be both a blessing and a curse because we will often outgrow our surroundings if they aren’t growing with us.
We become more clear on those we want to develop with personally and those we want to… personally develop as far away from us as humanly possible. The path of personal growth and healing is challenging because it can leave us feeling lonely at times. However, it is far better to be lonely for a short time than to watch the years go by, feeling stuck in a place we shouldn’t be.
#6. Your Friends Gossip
We all crave human connection, which is why it is not uncommon for us to engage in gossip from time to time. However, when our friend group only bonds over gossip, it can become toxic quickly. We may think that it’s harmless, but the reality is that the people that will gossip with you will also gossip about you. It’s a hard pill to swallow. However, deep down, this could be why we feel self-conscious around our friends. It can be incredibly challenging to be around friends when we constantly guard ourselves against being victims of gossip. It is like stepping on the gas pedal and brakes simultaneously.
There are areas of our lives where we have control over our success and others we don’t. Unfortunately, we have zero control over how others think of us.
We might feel the urge to constantly be in control because we experienced events that left us feeling helpless and vulnerable growing up. However, the coping mechanisms we used to survive our childhood are the same obstacles that stand in the way of our personal growth and healing.
When we focus on gaining approval in our friendships, it backfires. It backfires because the harder we try to gain someone’s approval, the less they want to give it to us. It is difficult to respect a person who values another’s person’s respect and acceptance more than their own.
We teach people how to treat us by what we allow, stop, and reinforce. The quality of our relationships deeply defines our lives. However, it is essential to remember that our relationship with ourselves is the longest and most significant relationship we will ever have. It sets the foundation for every other relationship we will ever have.
While social acceptance can feel great and comforting, it’s fleeting. There is never a perfect time to make a difficult decision. Ultimately, we have two choices, stagnate and die, or push forward into the unknown where true growth and fulfillment are found.