Do people become less self-conscious as they get old?

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  • #1
bluemoonKY
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When my father was 53, he told me that one of the benefits of getting old is "you don't care so much about what people think of you." He told me that when a person gets old, he or she still does care about what people think of him to some degree, but far less so than when one is young. To be self-conscious means to be uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of observation by others.

Do you agree or disagree with my father?

Do people generally become less self-conscious as they get older?
 

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  • #3
bluemoonKY
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Yes

Do you have any interesting anecdotes that you could share about this topic?
 
  • #4
phinds
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Do you have any interesting anecdotes that you could share about this topic?
No.
 
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  • #5
Choppy
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Sure.

One of the reasons that kids in high school (or younger people in general) tend to be self conscious is because they just don't have as much life experience yet. When you're older you tend to have more long-established friendships that are robust against minor challenges - arguments, unintended insults, annoying habits, different views on popular trends, etc.

When you're young, these same minor challenges can strain the friendships a lot more because the social bonds just haven't existed for as long. And statistically speaking, you're less likely to have come across someone who will put up with your idiosyncrasies. So younger people can lose friends more easily. And because a younger person is less likely to have other relationships to fall back on - those losses can have much more significant social consequences.

I would also argue that younger people are generally more concerned with self-definition and therefore more self-conscious. The older you get the more you are defined by what you've done and how you've acted in the past.
 
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  • #6
phyzguy
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My experience has been that when I was young I worried a lot about what other people were thinking of me. As I've gotten older I've realized that the answer is that generally other people aren't thinking of me at all; they are thinking about themselves and their own problems.
 
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  • #7
Dr. Courtney
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I certainly have, and most of the people I know well enough to know how self-conscious they are have as well.

I'm not sure it is strictly a function of age, as it seems to depend also on events and accomplishments that tend to come with age: marriage, education, employment, earnings, maturity, etc.

As one good friend says, "Sometimes wisdom comes with age. Sometimes age comes alone."
 
  • #8
waternohitter
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once you've established something about yourself and know who you are, it wouldn't really matter what others think.
 
  • #10
matt621
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This is easy to illustrate why.

There are lots of websites selling a chart. It's called "the number of weeks of your life." You print it out and you find our current age and mark all the weeks before that off. As you get older you realize the number of weeks you have left is getting smaller and smaller. And you realize wasting time thinking about what others thing of you is just that: WASTED TIME. It's shocking for a 50+ YO to print out that chart and realize 2/3rd of more of his or her life is past them. So why would anyone waste one millisecond of life worry what others might thing of them when you only have a limited time left?
 
  • #11
Drakkith
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Several posts have been deleted for bringing up politics, leading to an argument. Please keep politics out of this. Thank you.
 
  • #12
Drakkith
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So why would anyone waste one millisecond of life worry what others might thing of them when you only have a limited time left?

Because people aren't logical. Our brains are built to enjoy being accepted by society and to hate being ostracized, and ignoring this built-in function or pushing it away is incredibly difficult for almost everyone, regardless of age or profession.

I think that many older people would be as self conscious as younger people, but they are already in a position in society where they are, if not happy, then at least comfortable with their position. They are often also in a position that inherently affords them at least a small amount of respect and admiration. Just ask any grandparent if their kids and grand-kids look up to them. Even society as a whole tends to view older folks as having wisdom and experience that younger people don't have. Younger people are often still trying to reach that point for themselves and are much more self conscious as a result. Younger people are at the "bottom of the ladder" and have everything to prove while not knowing how or if they'll be able to do it.

That's my opinion at least.
 
  • #13
fresh_42
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If there is one thing I have learned from life, it is the fact that
"All people from <insert a group of your favor> are <insert a statement of your favor>"
is always wrong.
 
  • #14
jim hardy
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To be self-conscious means to be uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of observation by others.

It no longer makes me uncomfortable.
I've made enough mistakes and learned from them enough to not knowingly do anything hurtful or mean,
so the disapproval i used to fear is now i figure in the eye of the beholder and not in my behavior. When that turns out not so i promptly make amends, self adjust and go on.
Maybe our power of introspection gets better as we age.



Movie "Picture of Dorian Gray" was on Turner movies the other day. I recommend it.


The remarkable thing is that we really 'do' love our neighbor as ourselves; we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant towards others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves. (Eric Hoffer)
 
  • #15
Ibix
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One other thing is that as I get older I've had more ringside seats, supporting roles, and (fortunately infrequent) staring roles in epic mess-ups. And other more colourful-ups. And I learned that the world goes on, even if it didn't always seem obvious that it would before I lived through it. So you develop a bit more of a who-cares perspective on most stuff. You don't want to mess up, but it happens and you know you'll survive when it does.
 
  • #16
newjerseyrunner
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I think not. I think it’s related to your relative age.

When you are 8, you don’t care about the thoughts of a 5 year old, but you do an 11 year old because they’re more “adult.”

When your 21, you no longer care about what 18 year olds think. When you’re 30, screw 21 year olds.

During all of that time, you still care what your seniors think. So I think it’s not that you care less, it’s that you’re higher teir.
 
  • #17
When my father was 53, he told me that one of the benefits of getting old is "you don't care so much about what people think of you." He told me that when a person gets old, he or she still does care about what people think of him to some degree, but far less so than when one is young. To be self-conscious means to be uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of observation by others.

Do you agree or disagree with my father?

Do people generally become less self-conscious as they get older?
I am 66 and I am not at all less self conscious than ever before. There may not be a general trend, it seems individual.
 

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