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!

I Am Me; You Are You

We all know how much of an impact our thoughts and words have on us. They can make or break us, and they have the power to influence our feelings. I made an observation yesterday that I have noticed others doing, even myself!

Have you ever noticed that when we are talking, we tend to use the word “you” when talking about ourselves? I do this all the time without realizing it, but yesterday I caught myself and made some interesting observations about it.

What I Said

I was feeling upset and angry about something that happened yesterday and I was talking with my neighbor about it. Referring to my rough day, I told my neighbor, “It makes you feel so lost.” 

I used the word “you,” but I didn’t mean you as in my neighbor that I was talking to, I meant you as in me. Confusing, right!? I have observed this way of talking many times, but never placed much thought into it until now.

How It Feels

When we use “you” to describe ourselves, it feels as if we are almost distancing ourselves from that feeling. It’s as if we are not taking ownership of our thoughts and feelings and we are using the word “you” to keep the feeling separate from us.

Some people may use the word “you” about themselves purely out of habit, and some might use it as a way of subconsciously pushing the emotion away from themselves.

The Power of Using “I” or “Me”

Just out of curiosity, for the remainder of the day, I was careful about referring to myself as anything other than “I” or “me.” When I was sharing any of my feelings, I noticed that it felt like I was sharing a piece of myself versus just casually talking about a feeling. It felt powerful and it felt like I was owning my feelings.

Expressing emotions is an even bigger relief as I felt that I was truly expressing myself by referring to myself in the right language context. I know that this sounds funny, but words do hold so much power. The slightest change to a word can bring about a whole new feeling and meaning.

We Don’t Realize

As we go about our busy lives, sometimes we don’t realize our habitual way of talking, we don’t realize what a difference it makes to change our verbiage and how much our word choices affect us.

Imagine you and Friend A are talking, and they come up to you and say, “days like this make you feel so helpless, it’s like you don’t even know who you are anymore.” You will still be able to offer your friend sympathy of course, but taking the personal context out of the sentence, creates distance between you and the other person.

Now imagine Friend B saying this: “days like this make me feel so helpless, it’s like I don’t even know who I am anymore.” Which friend do you feel a stronger connection with? Which friend do you feel more empathy towards?

Try it Out

Think about the individuals that you are speaking to as well, they will feel more connected to you when you are speaking directly from your heart, words and all. As you go about your day today, try to see what an impact certain words have on your communication and your overall mood.

The words we choose and how we say them have so much importance to us and to those that we communicate with. The smallest word can have a profound difference in what you are trying to say and how others will relate to you. Never underestimate the power of words!

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!

Too Far to Reach

Most of us know this feeling all too well. We have a family member, friend, or significant other who becomes quiet, reserved, and slowly distances themselves from us.

How does the distance of others affect you? Do you pull away, do you reach out, or are you filled with many emotions? Maybe all of the above. Family and friends that become distant from us are very common. How do we handle this situation?

We all have ways of dealing with negative emotions and life events, some of us withdraw and some of us seek others for comfort. When our loved ones choose to withdraw from us, it can leave us wondering what to do.

I am currently in this very situation. A friend of mine whom I met at a past job became distant with me several months ago. It is upsetting as I value our friendship very much. Right now, the friendship is at a standstill, not on my part, but on hers and I have to accept that considering I have done everything that I could.

When I notice that someone that I care for has become a little quieter than usual, I usually wait a little while to see if they come around on their own. If not, I always reach out to see if they are doing okay. Most of the time, I will find that the individual is going through something, and they have taken a moment to reflect. I let them know that I am there for them, and I give them space.

What happens if this pattern continues? I may wait a week or two, sometimes longer, and reach out again to check on them if they haven’t made any contact with me. Rarely do I have to do this, but in some cases I do and sadly some people remain distant from us for months, years, possibly forever.

It is a very uncomfortable feeling when someone chooses to remain distant from us. We may not understand why, but there is always a reason whether it is related to us or not. Much of the time, it is something personal that our loved one is dealing with and not related to us in any way.

So many emotions can be felt when someone we love pulls away from us. We feel sad, angry, confused, and frustrated. It is very stressful figuring out what to do and trying to cope with the feelings that take over. Our self-esteem may even take a nosedive.

One thing is for sure, we can only control ourselves and our actions. We need to do everything that we can to salvage the relationship so that we are not left with a guilty conscience. We are then left knowing that we did everything we could, and the ball is now in the other person’s court.

We are not able to control what others do and as hard as that is, it is a reality. We cannot make someone talk to us, be friends with us, or want us in their lives. For whatever reason they have chosen to leave or distance themselves, it is for a valid reason to them.

If this situation has happened to you before, it is hard to accept. Try to process your feelings and know that not everyone is meant to stay in your life. There comes a time when a one-sided friendship is noticed and the constant reaching out takes a toll on us. There comes a point in time when we realize that some people are too far to reach.

A Comforting Word

I was talking with my mom the other day letting her know that I had some concerns about the future. Normal worries like where we would all end up living, worries about family, just the uncertainty of the future in general.

That’s just it, the future is uncertain for everyone, nonetheless, my mother was a listening ear for me as I vented my worries. She listened carefully to what I had to say and then her response left me instantly feeling better.

My mom told me two things. One, “try not to worry about the future, we need to focus on the here and now.” Two, “everything is going to work out and it will be okay.” The first reply is something that we all know to be true, yet sometimes we need a reminder. The second reply is something that we don’t know for sure to be true, so why was it comforting?

Words have so much power over us, they can make or break us. When we are spiraling down and overcome with emotions, we look to what others have to say to calm our deepest fears. Those little words, “it will be okay,” meant everything to me at this moment.

Our brains work in mysterious ways, if we think logically, we know that it is not certain that everything will be okay. We can be positive, and we can look back on past experiences and realize that most of the time everything did end up being okay, but we know logically that this may not be true.

The words were comforting regardless. Why? Well, because someone told us so and we are more inclined to listen to others than we are to ourselves. Hearing it from someone else makes it a reality and brings back that hope that all is not lost.

For those of you struggling to make ends meet, struggling with mental or physical health, finances, feeling burned out, relationship issues, or issues related to work and unemployment, I want to be that person that tells you that it will all be okay, keep shining and going strong, it will all work out in the end. This is just a little roadblock and what is beyond this bump in the road is more beautiful than we could ever imagine!