No One is Watching

How many of you have gotten a bad haircut, had a blemish, fell down the stairs, or ended up spilling something on your shirt and felt like the whole world was watching?

I want to tell you that they probably aren’t! Any of the above situations is enough to cause anxiety on its own, but when you have a feeling that everyone is looking, watching, and noticing your every move, mistake, or flaw, it can be very overwhelming.

The Spotlight Effect

There is a term in Psychology known as The Spotlight Effect. This term is a description of how individuals feel that they are constantly on center stage and that everyone is noticing everything going on with them.

We start to feel anxiety, worry, and sometimes paranoia because we feel like we are in the spotlight and all eyes are on us.

In reality, most people are not watching. Most people will not notice the haircut that you do not like, most people will not notice the stain on your shirt. Most people are so involved with what is going on with them and their surroundings that things like this are not as obvious as they seem to us.

We know everything about ourselves, we know our flaws and all. Maybe someone is self-conscious about a scar that they have. They see it every day, they know it like the back of their hand, so they feel that because they are aware of it, so is everyone else. This is not the case!

Think About a Time

Think about a time when you felt self-conscious about something, you probably felt like all eyes were on you. It probably made you feel anxious to some degree. You may have even mentioned it to a friend or colleague.

If you did mention it, what response did you get? Most likely the other person said, “I didn’t notice!” Then we wish that we never said anything because we drew attention to something that no one even realized.

The Saying Goes

We have been told over and over not to worry about what other people think. It is hard to live by this, because I feel like many people, myself included, do constantly worry about what people think of them. We all have a dire need to feel love, acceptance, and respect.

Life really is so much easier when you go about it with a smile on your face and not worrying about what others think. As you can see with The Spotlight Effect, not everyone is truly watching like we think they are!

My First Time Camping Overnight Was My Last

Many years ago, I was finally about to experience my first camping trip. I had always wanted to see what camping was all about. There are always fun stories being shared and so much to do, it was something that I wanted to try.

There was a group of us at work that were talking about taking a weekend trip to the mountains a couple of hours away. A few of them had been to this particular campground before, so they knew the ins and outs, which made me even more comfortable. We were all so excited and ready for an adventure in the mountains!

I Double-Checked

I am a very anxious person. I have been told time and time again that I hide it well because people are shocked to hear me say that I am always anxious. I feel like I am all over the place, but from outward appearance, I guess that is not the case.

Anyway, given me and my anxiety, I double, triple, and quadruple-checked where we would be staying the night on our camping trip. I was told by one of the gentlemen going on the trip that we had all chipped in to get a cabin.

I was relieved to hear the word cabin because you would never find me sleeping outdoors in just a tent, I would be terrified! We all made food and packed paper plates, napkins, and plastic utensils. We made sure to bring enough snacks, water bottles, and some delicious desserts.

The Day Had Come

The plan was for me to pick up one of my friends that I worked with, and we were going to drive down to the campground together. The other people in the group were all going to meet up and drive together and we would all meet there.

Excitement was all that you could see on my face as I drove to pick up my friend and head to the campground for my first camping experience. We had a blast together listening to music and talking. About two hours later, we made it to the camp!

Our Friend Gave Us a Tour

We unloaded most of our belongings. The view was breathtaking, we were deep into the woods, surrounded by large hills, a lake, and a little Visitor’s Center. Our friend, who we will call Dave, was the guy that knew this place like the back of his hand, so we let him tour us around.

Our first stop was the outhouse, I had never used one before, but that was about to change. It had a burning candle, smelled horrendous, and a small roll of toilet paper lay on top of the wooden board.

Next up was the cabin. As we approached the cabin, my jaw dropped in shock, and then the fear set in. Yes, this was a cabin, but it was not the type of cabin that I had in mind.

This cabin was completely open on both sides! The front and back had a wooden frame that you could walk through, there was no door. The windows had no glass. Technically, in my eyes, this was worse than a tent, because at least with a tent there is coverage all around. This was completely open!

Panic Set In

One of my worst fears is being outside in the dark, it never used to bother me, but it creeps me out to no end now that I am older. Maybe I have watched too much TV, but all that I can think about is wild animals attacking me, or even humans with bad intentions approaching me. There goes my anxiety again.

I tried to get myself together and I was determined to make the most out of my trip. I asked my friend if he would take us to explore the fun adventures that this campground had to offer, and I thought that maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as I pictured it in my mind. I can do this, I thought to myself.

We Got Our Feet Wet

There was so much to explore here! We went hiking up the large dirt hills and we found fossils. We couldn’t believe the shell prints that we found in some of the rocks. There was a lake nearby, we went out on the water in Dave’s boat. He did some fishing and we all just sat and enjoyed the sun, fresh air, and the beauty that surrounded us.

We got into some camping activities and Dave taught me how to use a slingshot, I had never used one before. It was just for fun, and I was aiming it at the lake, but I’ll never forget that. Also, one of the other people with us was showing us how to melt glass in the campfire. It would come out in the oddest shapes and reminded me of dried maple syrup.

After all of the fun, we were hungry and thirsty. We decided to unwind for the night with some good food. We sat around talking and laughing, sharing stories as we made s’mores by the campfire.

I had finished my dinner and I saw a bag full of plastic water bottles and I put my paper plate in that bag. I then heard one of my friends yell “stop!” I had never camped before, and I was completely unaware that even plates with no food left on them will attract bears, not to mention other animals because of their incredible sense of smell. Anything with a trace of food on it needed to be burned in the fire. I was mortified to hear that bears were even this close to us, I guess I shouldn’t have been, considering this was a mountain.

I Was Being Tested

My first trip to the outhouse was a memorable one. The smell was so foul, and I shared my little space there with flies and even a few spiders.

 We had spent so much time enjoying the campground that I hadn’t even checked my phone, but nightfall was approaching. I went to get my phone out of the car and to my surprise, there was no service. We were so far into the mountains that our phones didn’t work. I started to worry, there was no way that we could reach out or have anyone reach us.

My heart was racing at the fact that we were all about to spend the night in a wide-open “cabin” and the thought of not having any service just made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. What if we needed help?

Nightfall

Night had come and it was time to lay down in our “beds” made of blankets. The campground was very dark, some lampposts were overlooking the lake which gave us some light and we had some very dim lighting around the cabin area itself, but the majority of the area was like looking out into a sea of darkness.

All that I could imagine was an animal coming down from the woods or out of the lake and stepping foot inside our cabin. After all, there was nothing there to stop them. We were fresh meat. The first part of the night was quiet. That was about to change.

I Will Never Forget the Noises

Sleeping on a campground, at least this one, was incredibly noisy. I was scared out of my mind and my heart was racing the entire night. I didn’t sleep a wink between hearing the bullfrogs in the lake, and the footsteps of animals that I couldn’t even see. I could hear some sort of animal trying to get into the trash can. I just kept praying for our safety. I kept hearing an animal make a grunting noise and I could hear heavy breathing.

The sounds still play in my head today, I was completely mortified. I felt so vulnerable, and I was truly afraid for my life. It is somewhat funny now looking back on it, but it sure was not funny at that moment.

This Trip Taught Me Something

I have gone on many camping trips during the day since this one, however, after that night I vowed to never spend the night again on a campground. Half the fun is missing when you don’t spend the night, but the fear that I felt that night will prevent me from ever doing it again.

I did learn a lot from this trip. I was forced to face my fears that night. Yes, I was completely uncomfortable, and as difficult as that was for me when the sun had risen the next morning, I felt like I had won. I faced a massive fear of mine.

I was upset at Dave for not being completely honest with me about the layout of the cabin, but I know that if he was, I would have never gone. All of the fun memories that we made during that trip wouldn’t have happened. I will cherish those memories for the rest of my life. Besides the experience at night, this camping trip was one of the most amazing experiences that I have ever had with an amazing group of people.

I Miss You, Dave

Sadly, Dave passed away a few years ago. My heart still breaks, I have so many memories of him and his passion for life. I will never forget the night that he pushed me to face my fears, the night that he showed me what I can learn about myself and life if I just live a little and not let my anxiety get the best of me. I will never forget the night that Dave believed in me when I didn’t even believe in myself. I miss you, Dave. Thank you for all that you taught me.

Leave What Cannot Be Undone

How many things are you currently worried about that cannot be changed? For many of us, it is quite a few things. We may be dwelling on a decision that we made, or regret some of our past behaviors. As hard as it is to not worry, analyze, and overthink the past, it is so necessary for our well-being and to be able to move forward.

As much as we may wish, our energy both physically and mentally is not infinite. We must take great care to preserve our energy and save it for things in our lives that truly require every bit of energy that we have left.

When we worry about things that happened in the past, we are using our precious energy on something that truly cannot be changed, it cannot be undone. I’m sure that you can count many times that you have said something like “I wish I didn’t leave my job,” or” I wish that I could go back in time and redo a certain relationship.”

Living in the Past

When we live in the past instead of the present, we are robbing ourselves of energy that we could be taking to solve problems and deal with life in the here and now. The past cannot be changed, what is done is done and I know that is very hard to accept sometimes but accepting that fact and also being able to leave what cannot be undone in the past is so important.

We could spend countless hours of our lives thinking we could have, would have, should have and although it can be a stress-reliever to overthink and analyze these thoughts, it serves us no purpose, it does not keep us from moving forward, it does not allow us to make good decisions now that will shape our more desired future.

Often, I find myself thinking of the past, how I would change certain things about it, and how I would have done things differently, yet if I spend all of my energy focusing on what I cannot change, I am wasting precious moments of my life where I can make a difference. As hard as it is, leave the past in the past. It is a part of you, but it does not define you, nor does it deserve any energy from you.

My Best Advice

Worrying about something that you can’t change is very common human behavior, however, it will get you nowhere. When you find yourself slipping into thinking about things that you are not able to change, then acknowledge that you are feeling a certain way and then let it go. Remind yourself that you are focusing on working towards things in your life that you currently have the power to influence.

Whatever you are worrying about today, know that things tend to happen for a reason, things happen for life to fall into place, and things happen for you to grow as a person, whatever you are worrying about today, know that the past is in the past and the present needs your attention. Though difficult, may this be a gentle reminder to put your thoughts, time, and energy into what you can control. Many blessings to you all!

Mercury Retrograde, I Feel Your Presence

Has anyone else noticed a difference in how life seems a little bit more chaotic this last week or so? In this last week, I have had so many odd things happen, things that normally wouldn’t cross my path in my everyday life.

I have always been one to feel the effects of energy. I am a very sensitive soul, an empath, and I feel energy very deeply. I can tell when there a full moon, it’s almost like I can feel it. One possibly lesser-known phenomenon is that of the Mercury retrograde.

What is the Mercury Retrograde?

Mercury has a typical orbiting pattern and three times a year, its orbit position changes. According to Mercury’s view from Earth, it can be seen moving “backward.”

It is said that during this time people tend to feel off and life can have many mishaps. Life during a retrograde period is perceived to be hectic and unsettled with odd events happening often.

What Has Happened to Me?

Over the last week, I have noticed that I am feeling a little more anxious and unsettled, my mind has been racing and although I am an anxious person in general, it has been magnified. I also have been feeling a fluctuation of fatigue and restless energy.

Random things have occurred like lights burning out, issues with the Medium website, getting my finger caught in a door, hurting my back on a railing when I stood up, and forgetting things that I don’t normally forget.

Yesterday, I was getting groceries and I had to have all of my items scanned at check-out not once, not twice, but three times because of an error. I drove home with my groceries in the trunk. Once I parked my car in front of the house, I opened the trunk and one of my bags immediately fell out. I was able to save everything except for the cherry tomatoes that had fallen all over the pavement. These things just don’t tend to happen often!

Of course, we could chalk all of the craziness up to coincidence, but so many things at once do not occur typically. Either way, it has been interesting, to say the least.

My Sister Told Me

I had just gotten home and was talking with my sister when I mentioned how much misfortune happened to me lately and she told me that Mercury was in retrograde, and mishaps tend to occur during this period. I have heard of this before and I know what the Mercury retrograde is, however, I was not aware that we are currently in one. This retrograde will be from September 9th to October 2nd. It makes sense now!

Question for You

Have you been feeling off or restless lately? Have you noticed any odd things happening that typically don’t occur? Have you felt that things feel a bit off? I would love to hear if anyone else has experienced the craziness that supposedly comes with the Mercury retrograde.

Dreading Something? Read This

There are many things in life that we go through. Some good, some bad, and some in-between. As human beings, we deal with many different emotions as we process the world around us.

One of the many uncomfortable emotions is dread. In other words, when we feel anxious or worried, it can take a toll on us and prevent us from living our best life. It can even impact how we view the world and the decisions that we make.

Are You Dreading Something?

You may be dreading an upcoming meeting, long-distance travel for a wedding, a doctor’s appointment, a difficult conversation with a loved one, or a project that you are due to start at work. Whatever it may be, feeling dread for a certain date or event to come around is a feeling that is tough to sit with.

As with many feelings, there are ways to help minimize the feeling of dread. There are ways that we can look at the feeling and the situations that evoke it to help us in life.

What Can We Do to Minimize Feeling Dread?

  • We can realize that feeling dread is just a feeling no matter how uncomfortable it is. We can sit with it, recognize it, acknowledge that it’s there, and then try to let it float away. A thought is just a thought, don’t give it too much power.
  • Analyze the situation. What could be the worst that happens if you have that conversation attend that meeting, and go to the doctor? This way you can see what is the worst that could happen. Often seeing this side can help minimize anxieties as we realize it isn’t as bad as it seems in our heads.
  • Look at the positives that could come from this situation. You might feel relief, and empowerment, you may feel stronger for having conquered your fear. You never know what you might discover or learn about yourself!

What To Remember

Oftentimes, the very thing that we have been dreading for days, weeks, months, or even longer ends up being so much better than we expected. Much of our worry and anxiety comes from things that haven’t happened yet, so the anticipation of an event or upcoming date on the calendar can send our minds spinning.

If you are dreading something that is coming up, as hard as it is, remember that it will pass. It may be uncomfortable and feel like a burden, but you will get through it, and it will pass just as everything else that you have gone through in life. Here is a little motivation to get you through a trying time, you can do this!