In order to lessen self-consciousness it’s important to tip the balance from your current focus. This is an internal focus, which is all about what is happening around you.
Of course your focus can and does shift in other directions. For example, becoming immersed in a movie, or a book, or a hobby such as photography or art. In other words you already have the capability to shift focus it’s just that your current settings aren’t allowing this.
Think of external focusing as a skill. Like all skills it starts off a bit shaky but gets better the more you do. Perhaps use something you do already as a focal point. When you watch a movie, for example, you could hit the pause button and look at how an actor is dressed. What combination of clothes are they wearing? How is their hair done, do they wear earrings, a tattoo? These are things you probably notice but perhaps not in a way that might be used in a social setting. You might imagine using some of this information (“I like your watch”, “that looks like a warm coat!”) as a means of conversation.
We all tend to find our attention wandering. Be assured we all have to self-monitor to an extent otherwise we’d be saying and doing things that were entirely inappropriate. But there is also something of a danger in focusing too much on any one thing, especially if it involves another person. Passing a comment about a warm looking coat is one thing but you don’t want to start commenting on every other item of clothing, shoes, hair etc. Being picked over that way is creepy!
Learn to let your attention wander more freely. In a room there is usually a picture, a style of furniture or even something that alerts your senses – it’s stuffy, cold, dimly lit and so on. You don’t have a responsibility to entertain others but there comes a point when the person you are with maybe feels self-conscious they are doing all the talking or simply dry up. This is a time to practice your observations:
Do you find it cold in here? I just noticed that picture on the wall. Is this a photo of your family?
The message is, first try switching your focus in non-threatening situations. Then experiment with people you are comfortable with. Try switching attention back and forth until you feel more comfortable with the idea. Notice how they differ with respect to how you feel, but understand these differences are normal. It isn’t easy shifting attention away from yourself if you’ve spent a lifetime feeling self-conscious. Time and practice help a great deal and the more you try the more likely it is your confidence will grow.