What is the Spotlight Effect?
Have you ever had that moment when you were about to enter a party, but felt super nervous?
Right before you were about to open the door & enter, you thought that everyone was going to stop what they were doing & stare at you.
One by one, the heads will turn & observe all of your movements.
Pretty daunting when you think about it.
What’s funny about this situation is that although it seems unrealistic, many of us have this scenario playing in our minds.
‘Any idea why that is?’
It is due to the spotlight effect.
The spotlight effect is a psychological phenomenon where you feel like there is an imaginary spotlight over you.
And you feel as though everyone is watching your movements & anticipating your failure.
Actually, who am I kidding?
It’s the reason for most types of anxieties out there.
In this blog, I am going to talk more about the spotlight effect, why it occurs & what to do about it.
When you begin understanding how this principle works, you have more power to take control over it.
Is the spotlight bad?
Let us find out.
Why Does the Spotlight Effect Exist?
Every human has a thing called the ego.
The ego is our sense of self.
We have 2 components to the mind:
- The Conscious mind – Our critical thinking mind.
- The Subconscious mind- Our database of life experiences.
The bridge between the conscious and subconscious mind creates our ego.
When you break it down, humans have a love-hate relationship with the ego.
Well, the ego can be our best friend or our worst enemy.
It is our best friend when we have tamed it.
We realize that we are just one speck of dust in the entire human existence.
This allows us to gain perspective and learn how to use our ego as a tool.
A tamed ego is necessary when chasing your dreams.
When you try to kill the ego, you become the ‘nice guy.’
A pushover who stands for nothing.
But an untamed ego is your worst nightmare.
This is when you feel like you are the center of someone else’s world.
An untamed ego causes you to get:
- Angry quicker.
- Take things personally.
- Debate with random strangers online.
And…set up the spotlight effect for yourself.
When you think you are the center of everyone’s world, your ego will give the illusion of everyone watching you….
Does Everyone Have The Spotlight Effect?
‘Gee whiz Armani! Am I the only one who goes through the spotlight effect?’
Nope. Most humans you know go through the same thing.
When you enter a party, you feel like others are watching you.
But others feel like you are watching them.
It’s sort of comical when you think about it.
But humans are born with an untamed ego.
A tamed ego is trained into our existence.
It requires conscious effort.
Which explains why most people remain immature for such a long period of time.
As a little kid, we are self-centered individuals who need guardians. We are born with the untamed ego.
But as we grow older, face hardships, and introspect…
We realize we are just a pixel in the bigger picture.
Most people do not tame their egos and mature because they rarely introspect.
They just go from one mistake to another.
And a lack of introspection leads to the ego being an enemy.
Which is why most people in social events feel like they have the spotlight on them.
What are the Symptoms of the Spotlight Effect?
So you may be wondering how someone can tell if they are a victim of this psychological phenomenon?
‘Yes, I am wondering that bro.’
Let me list out a few traits:
- They feel ugly when speaking to someone– The individual is very self-conscious of HOW they are coming off to another individual. Constantly worrying if they are looking ugly.
- Feels like a group is watching over them– Even though they can’t logically explain it, they feel like the rest of the individuals are judging them.
- Feels stiff– Very rigid body language.
- Focused more on words rather than the message– This individual is focused on saying the ‘right’ words, coming off as robotic.
- Fidgety– This is the opposite of symptom 3. Some people become very fidgety to release the internal emotional tension.
These are just 5 common symptoms. But there are plenty more.
The bottom line: you feel like you are being watched.
Which is bringing you to a state of unease.
And this state of unease is causing you to ruin present social events & avoid future social interactions.
How to Overcome the Spotlight Effect
So there’s a long way & a fast way to overcome the spotlight effect.
The long way is by experiencing life.
There’s this famous quote that goes like:
In your 20’s and 30’s, you worry about what other people think. In your 40’s and 50’s you stop worrying about what other people think. Finally in your 60’s and 70’s, you realize they were never thinking about you in the first place!
As funny as this quote may seem, many people realize one day that others were not thinking about them as they initially thought.
Then the humor turns rather morbid.
Because many people realize this quote too late in life!
To overcome the spotlight effect faster, you need to realize that you are just a pixel in the picture.
All humans are sharing planet earth together.
And planet earth is MICROSCOPIC when compared to the universe.
Start looking at a picture of the universe whenever you get the chance to keep on EXPANDING your perspective.
Seeing the universe allows you to understand that we are just a small dot in the grand scheme of life.
And that’s not a bad thing… it’s a beautiful one!
This allows us to have a sense of calm when dealing with social interactions.
After you have internalized being a pixel in the picture, rather than the picture itself, then:
- Bring awareness to your spotlight effect.
- Put the spotlight on the other individual.
1. Bring awareness to your spotlight effect
After years and years of being conditioned with rules of what is acceptable in society, you care a lot about others’ opinions.
And we naturally care about others’ opinions for survival reasons.
When our ancestors were ostracised from their tribes, that was good as a death sentence.
But nowadays? That is NOT the case.
We will live even if someone doesn’t like us.
Anytime you go to an event and feel like everyone is watching you, gently remind yourself that:
No one is thinking about you, they are thinking about themselves.
Keep on bringing awareness to your thoughts when you feel the spotlight effect & guide it back to enjoying the moment.
Over time, you will build a sense of comfort.
You’ll develop a new mode of thinking.
2. Put the spotlight on the other individual
This part is huge.
- When you put the spotlight on yourself, you get social anxiety.
- When you put the spotlight on the other person, you get charisma.
Read that again.
Charismatic people are charismatic because they know how to put FULL focus on the other person.
This allows them to become better listeners, be present & ask great questions.
Humans naturally love talking about themselves.
So give them what they yearn the most.
Take the pressure off of yourself & focus on the other person.
When you keep doing that, you turn a bad situation into a fantastic one.
The Spot Light Effect just got Dim
Keep practicing the tips outlined in this post.
- Introspect about life.
- Look at pictures of the universe to expand your perspective.
- Make yourself aware when you feel the spotlight effect.
- Gently put the spotlight on the other person.
If you keep doing that, then you will be good in no time.
You’ll begin enjoying social interactions and build a strong level of confidence.
Unlock your inner charisma.
We all have it within us.
You just need to dim the spotlight champ.
Psychological principles can be controlled & used for your benefits.
So put less stress on yourself & use the pressure to create diamonds.
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