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Self-Consciousness

  • What nonsense it is, this desire to be without limitations, this wish always to be seen in the most flattering light. We are anxious, not because we think so little of ourselves, but because we think so much of ourselves. We are anxious, not that we may appear in the worst light, but that we may not appear in the best light. Anxiety is born of self-consciousness, and it is alleviated to the exact extent that we can drop consciousness of the self.

  • I saw one of the absolute truths of this world: each person is worrying about himself; no one is worrying about you. He or she is worrying about whether you like him, not whether he likes you. He is worrying about whether he looks prepossessing, not whether you are dressed correctly. He is worrying about whether he appears poised, not whether you are. He is worrying about whether you think well of him, not whether he thinks well of you. The way to be yourself ... is to forget yourself.

  • The desire to be the object of public attention is weak, but the excessive dread of it is but a form of vanity and over-self-contemplativeness.

  • In connection with death, or birth, or love, modesty is only a rather puerile self-consciousness.

  • Sometimes I pose, but sometimes I pose as posing.

  • People would worry a lot less about what other people think of them if they realized how infrequently they do!

  • Sneezes ... always sound much louder to the sneezer than to the hearers. It is an acoustical peculiarity.

  • Shyness is I-ness. Shyness is really wondering if you have other people's approval.

  • I do not like to employ secretaries that have more wit than myself. I am afraid to make them write all my nonsense.

    • Madame de Sévigné,
    • 1676, Letters of Madame de Sévigné to Her Daughter and Her Friends, vol. 4 ()
  • I can't quite summon up the nerve / To bare my pale, imperfect torso, / Till all around me I observe / Shapes like mine — or even more so!

  • If you think back over your experiences, the chances are that you will find the finest moments in your life were those when you completely forgot yourself.

  • You ought to try eating raw oysters in a restaurant with every eye focused upon you — it makes you feel as if the creatures were whales, your fork a derrick and your mouth Mammouth Cave.

    • Lillian Russell,
    • in Marie Dressler, The Life Story of an Ugly Duckling ()
  • ... how magnanimous was a gesture if one were constantly aware of its magnanimity?

  • We would worry less about what others think of us if we realized how seldom they do.

  • I cured myself of my shyness when it finally occurred to me that people didn't think about me nearly as much as I gave them credit for. The truth was, nobody really gave a damn.

  • It's always the fear of looking stupid that stops you from being awesome.