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  • Writer's pictureCalvin

Spotlight Effect

You ever get that feeling that you are getting watched? You do you feel like people are always out there judging your every move? Approving or disapproving of your actions? Does that make you anxious and uncomfortable?


There is a term called “the spotlight effect” in psychology, which means that most people tend to overestimate how others think about them. In reality, everyone is so immersed in their own little worlds. They actually could care less about that stain on your t-shirt, or how your hair looks out of place, or that you messed up a sentence in your speech that one time.


That’s human nature I guess. Everyone is trapped in a sense in their own little world. I was out and about today on the NYC subways. And I would casually browed through the train car to see all the different types of people that were on the train. People of all types of shapes, sizes, personalities, religions, ideologies, and vulnerabilities.


I would check them out a little bit and then go about my regular day of business. And from then on out, I could care less about who they are or what they did. I didn’t notice anyone’s hair out of place. Or even if I did, I’m sure I would forget about it in a matter of minutes or even seconds. I can’t even remember one face from the train car that I rode on this morning.


That’s probably how it is like for most people. They are all worried about their own life and their own circumstance to care less about how other people look or what they do. And that is actually a good thing. Because in reality, not a lot of people are out there judging your every move.


Honestly, no one really cares. I know that I didn’t really care what other people were doing this morning when I was riding the R train. I can’t even remember any of their faces anymore.


This goes with many things in my life. I think I’ve read almost over 100 books in my lifetime. I’ve read books on self-help, on sales, negotiations, leadership, spirituality, personal finance, and many others. I’ve read comic books, memoirs, and many other stuff. And I’ve have to say that I honestly don’t remember most of the concepts or stories that were shared in most of these books that I’ve read.


There are some stories and books that do stand out. And those books are in the category of amazing. But, the vast majority of the things I’ve read in the past, I’ve honestly completely forgotten in my memory bank. I would have to read them over a few times to understand some of the principle concepts taught.


Same goes with movies. I’ve watched countless movies in my life. But there are only a select few that I keenly remember and that strike a chord within my soul. Most of the movies from five or ten years ago, I’ve completely forgotten the intricacies about. I can’t remember what happens scene-to-scene. And sometimes, I don’t really remember the storyline neither.


People’s mental bandwidths are limited. And it’s impossible to expect them to understand or know everything about everything that is going on in this world. So, when you are racking your brains about a mistake that you made at work or a silly action that you did in front of a girl you liked, don’t sweat it. Because chances are, they will forget what you did or say after a matter of time.


I’m not sure why some of us are wired to worry about little things. Maybe it’s because of our egos. Maybe it’s because of survival instincts. Either way, we are bred to believe that our thoughts and emotions are super important and make-or-break. But in reality, we are just one person in a sea of billions of people.


Yes, our thoughts and desires are important for us. But for the vast majority of the billions of people in this world, our thoughts are not even blips on the radar screen. They don’t register any type of movement at all on the Richter scale. Once we come to this understanding, we can use this to our advantage and approach life with a greater sense of acceptance and freedom.


It’s a bit of a relief to know that your every move is not being judged every single second by the entire world. That goes for the majority of the people on this planet. Celebrities and movie stars may have a different take on the matter at hand. But as time goes on, even their good (and bad) deeds will be forgotten or relegated to a footnote in the history books.


So don’t sweat it. Yes, you are important. Yes, your thoughts and feelings matter. Just know that, at the same time, you are not being judged or being placed in a pressure cooker every single second of your life by every single person on the face of this planet. Try to relax and embrace the irrelevancy.

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