Nowadays, it’s all about exhibiting “main character” energy, and we can thank social media for that, despite how unrealistic that may be. While you definitely should be the main character in your life, you should also recognize that there are other supporting characters in your orbit.
I admit, at times, I suffer from wanting things solved on my own time, not realizing that others aren’t on the same schedule as me, but I’m working on it. Also, I can be insecure about my mistakes and how people might perceive me due to them, but then realize that they aren’t concerned. After reflecting on these behavior patterns, I came across a podcast episode from the Black Girl Bravado Podcast, which is part of Jemele Hill’s Unbothered Network on Spotify. During the episode, the duo discussed how people’s perceptions of them often have the podcasters in a chokehold. Next, they introduced a psychological term called the “Spotlight Effect,” which refers to our tendency to overestimate how much other people notice about us. Sometimes, we think there’s a spotlight on us, highlighting our mistakes, flaws, and quirks for the world to see, which isn’t the case.
The Spotlight Effect can be worse for those with social anxiety, given it can affect your ability to feel naturally comfortable around others – as it’s not uncommon to feel embarrassed. Psychologists believe it can come from being overly self-conscious and unable to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to realize their perspective differs from yours. Some impacts of the Spotlight Effect are being extremely self-absorbed and concerned with appearance and delusion, as they think everyone is just aware of perceived shortcomings and potentially embarrassing moments. However, with therapy preferably (Cognitive behavior therapy) and some critical introspection, there are ways to be more aware of this behavior. If you can reframe your thinking to realize and accept that nobody is paying that close attention to you, you’ll be able to stop worrying about it.
Another way to overcome the spotlight effect is to do self-checks daily to test your belief that others are noticing, critiquing, and evaluating you. To help you through this, you can also focus your attention outward to see other people’s reactions to you or lack thereof. This action will help you to stop focusing inward on your anxiety and to notice how other little people are paying attention to you. From there, you’ll realize that no one can read your mind, and most are caught up in their slate of situations, issues, and joys – making it easier to see that the spotlight is not constantly on you, highlighting your flaws.
Another practice that could be helpful for you to adopt is decentering. Decentering is stepping outside one’s perspective and beliefs to take a non-judging stance toward oneself. This practice can also be helpful for those who are experiencing social anxiety and the Spotlight Effect. Those who suffer from the Spotlight Effect typically overestimate how much people think of them. Reframing your thought process to think of yourself as unimportant could help your social anxiety and how you may think of others perceiving you.