The Evangelical Universalist Forum

The Root of My Problem - Self Consciousness

As it says in the Big Book on page 62,

“Selfishness - self centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles."

Growing up with a lot of self-conscious shame and anxiety is the root of my ego. It’s a self-centeredness in the extreme. Drugs and alcohol intensified my shame and anxiety. I used to relieve my shame and fear and this would cause more shame and fear. These are called shame and anxiety spirals and they snowballed out of control and became so intense that I snapped. Self-conscious in the extreme I become the center of the universe where everything revolves around me. I have an exaggerated sense of my own importance. This is when they start coming after me. Christ incarnates Himself through me and I’m going to be persecuted and tortured like He was. To get rid of this, the idea is to lose yourself and deflate the ego.

To be most myself, I needed to focus on things outside myself, like God, the music or the people around me.

Here’s an article on this explaining how to get in the now:

I also wrote about it here:

Living in the present and letting go gets rid of the fear for me. No worry or anticipation about the future. I do it with confidence. Doing it extremely afraid I always fumbled and made an idiot out of myself. I first accepted my true self as I let go and trust God. I get in what psychologists call flow. Athletes call it being in the zone. No fear in the moment. Only focus and hope. Here’s a paper about this on mindfulness:

Anxiety Reduction Techniques: Turning Your Focus Outward and Cultivating Mindfulness

By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 2 February 2015)

woman in park with hands raised

Woman Meditating, Image Courtesy of Photostock, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

With panic disorder and other anxiety states, there is a tendency to become too inwardly focused and obsessed with imaginary future catastrophes. Those who suffer from panic tend to obsess about physical sensations and get into a negative loop of fearful anticipation, unrealistic thinking, increased adrenaline, and more unpleasant physical symptoms.

One of the best ways to deal with a distressing internal state is to shift the focus outward. Many people who suffer from panic attacks do this instinctively, seeking distractions such as television, books, music, arts and crafts, or conversation with others. However, it can be helpful just to become more interested in your surroundings, really examining the things around you (sights, sounds, smells, etc.), shifting your focus to these external elements and away from the internal and ever-magnifying obsession.

Use Positive Distractions

Often when anxiety attacks, distraction is the best way to treat it. Positive distractions that shift the focus outward include:

  • Socializing
  • Playing games
  • Exercising
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Listening to music
  • Writing
  • Doing arts and crafts
  • Solving puzzles
  • Doing things for other people

Make a Habit of Focusing Outward

There are a number of things you can do to make a habit of shifting your focus outward:

  • Join clubs or activities based on your interests.
  • Take a class to learn how to do something you’ve always wanted to do.
  • Do volunteer work.
  • Start a fitness program with a friend.
  • Become more interested in other people – get to know your neighbours and ask others about their lives.
  • Get out into nature – start hiking or engage in some other outdoor pursuit.
  • Take up photography, landscape painting, or any other activity that encourages you to really observe what’s around you.
  • Meditate by focusing on objects that have positive significance for you or on feelings of compassion and gratitude for those who have been good to you.

When you do find your focus turning inward, shift to thinking about what you need to do to cope, to relax, to feel better. What could you do for yourself right now to enhance your confidence or overall mood? How can you best take care of yourself during this difficult time? Engage in positive self-talk, and consciously choose to visualize happy outcomes for yourself. Treat yourself as you would a good friend.

Cultivate Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a way of being within the present moment rather than worrying about the future. It increases your awareness of what is around you and enriches all life experiences, including the most mundane.

Mindfulness can help you learn to control your focus, either turning it outward or maintaining inward focus in a more positive way. Information about mindfulness can be found at:

For more natural ways to manage and reduce anxiety and stop panic attacks, see the main Panic and Anxiety Treatments page.

You don’t run away. Rather you accept the shame and fear and let it go or pass on through as you refocus.

I also take Zoloft and Wellbutrin. My doctor doesn’t prescribe addictive medicine as it can lead to addiction like Jordan Peterson’s case. I’m also glad the Catholic church draws a distinction between mental illness and demonic possession or influence. They have the truth here. I was talking to an old friend from high school and telling him about my schizoaffective. He said they are demons. I said well, when I got this shot here they went away. And it hasn’t come back since. My persecutory, grandiose paranoid delusions went away after I got put on this. I call it my ego deflater or humility shot. Works good so far.

To go into more detail with the steps I’ve written about self-consciousness here:

Here’s the way John Piper puts it in Desiring God:

We look away from ourselves to Him, and only then do the manifold emotions of our heart erupt in worship.

Christian Hedonism is aware that self-consciousness kills joy and therefore kills worship. As soon as you turn your eyes in on yourself and become conscious of experiencing joy, it’s gone. The Christian Hedonist knows that the secret of joy is self-forgetfulness. Yes we go to the art museum for the joy of seeing the paintings. But the counsel of Christian Hedonism is: Set your whole attention on the paintings and not your emotions, or you will ruin the whole experience. Therefore, in worship there must be a radical orientation on God, not ourselves.

Page 95

Adopting this attitude depends on the quality of your self-love. If you feel terribly superior to others, or gripped by insecurities, your moments of empathy and absorption in people will be shallow. What you need is a complete acceptance of your character, including your flaws, which you can see clearly but even appreciate and love. You are not perfect. You are not an angel. You have the same nature as others. With this attitude, you can laugh at yourself and let slights wash over you. From a position of genuine inner strength and resilience, you can more easily direct your attention outward. ~~ Robert Greene, The Laws of Human Nature, page 50.

Self-consciousness is a heightened sense of self-awareness. It is a preoccupation with oneself, as opposed to the philosophical state of self-awareness, which is the awareness that one exists as an individual being, though the two terms are commonly used interchangeably or synonymously.[1] An unpleasant feeling of self-consciousness may occur when one realizes that one is being watched or observed, the feeling that “everyone is looking” at oneself. Some people are habitually more self-conscious than others. Unpleasant feelings of self-consciousness are sometimes associated with shyness or paranoia.

When feeling self-conscious, one becomes aware of even the smallest of one’s own actions. Such awareness can impair one’s ability to perform complex actions. Adolescence is believed to be a time of heightened self-consciousness. A person with a chronic tendency toward self-consciousness may be shy or introverted.[2]

When we lose ourselves and turn our focus towards Christ (present moment faith) we fall in love. We become the Bride of Christ as we fall in love with our inner child. When we are lost in the now we fall in love. We take care of ourselves but this isn’t the focus. Christ is.

“Jesus tells us we must leave the self altogether-yield it, deny it, refuse it, lose it. Thus only shall we save it… The self is given us that we may sacrifice it. It is ours in order that we, like Christ, may have something to offer- not that we should torment it, but that we should deny it; not that we should cross it, but that we should abandon it utterly.”

― George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons: Series I, II, III

I’ve wrote about this here:

Alvin Plantinga has developed a model where basic Christian belief can be rational and warranted. I will outline it here. For a better and more in depth treatment see “Warranted Christian Belief”. According to the model humans have fallen into sin and this has disrupted or clouded our awareness of God. It affects not only our rational faculties but our affections as well. They have malfunctioned or are to some degree dysfunctional (some worse than others). When these faculties are functioning properly (the way they ought) we will come to sense God’s presence. Not only from looking at a beautiful sunset but the beautiful Christ in the Gospel as well. When things go as they ought to (according to a design plan) we will love God above all else and our neighbor as our self. The Holy Spirit produces within that firm and certain knowledge (faith) that we are loved by Christ. When held firmly enough these beliefs will constitute knowledge. Because the beliefs and affections are functioning properly according to a design plan successfully aimed at the production of true belief we are justified and rational in holding our beliefs. Plantinga doesn’t claim to argue or prove that God exists or that Christianity is true. These beliefs just rise up within. But FOR THOSE who have changed and love God above all else and their neighbor as their self their beliefs and faith in Christ have warrant FOR THEM and they are rational in holding them. That is, they are functioning properly according to a design plan. God’s design plan. And are therefore rational.

The images in the Bible for God’s love for His children are erotic. It’s the kind of love a mother has for her baby. There’s nothing abnormal about being in love with your baby. It’s called the eros of parenthood. It’s also found in the love between a bride and her bridegroom. Eros can be found in sex but isn’t limited to sex. It’s also found in hope and compassion. It’s the longing God’s children have for eternal life with Him. Alvin Plantinga recognizes this in Warranted Christian Belief. Eros can be found in sex but isn’t limited to sex. It’s a passionate longing. A desire for closeness and intimacy with God without sex.

It is a longing filled with desire and yearning…It is erotic, and one of the closest analogues would be with sexual eros. There is a powerful desire for union with God, the oneness Christ refers to in John 17. Another perhaps equally close analogue would be love between parent and small child; and this kind of love too is often employed in scripture as a figure for love of God - both God’s love for us and our love for Him. Here too there is longing, yearning, desire for closeness ~~ Alvin Plantinga