Using Slots As Escape From The Spotlight

spotlight focused and shining on a lone microphone attached to a stand Source: Oscar Keys at Spotlight effect, that is. Do you ever feel like everyone is staring at you when you go shopping in a packed Wal-Mart for a late-night pizza or stand in line for Starbucks coffee at 7am? Worried about your dishevelled hair or your wrinkly pant suit sparking judgement? Fear not. You are probably just experiencing the spotlight effect. This article explores the details of the spotlight effect and how it can add to or minimize social anxiety. While you are working on accepting that people just are not as concerned about you as you think, you can play slots from Royal Vegas as a diversion as you begin the process of becoming more self-aware.

What Is the Spotlight Effect?

Much like how it sounds, the spotlight effect is a term psychologists use to refer to how much we believe other people notice us. We overestimate the degree to which others put us in a spotlight. We figuratively think and believe that a bright, incandescent spotlight is shining on us and only us, illuminating all our flaws, gaping pores, and disgusting stains. Established in the psychology lexicon in 1999, the spotlight effect is a universal concern. Many studies have been performed to test the effect. One such test involved students wearing bright yellow Barry Manilow t-shirts to a big class. After the class, researchers asked the shirt-wearing participants how many people in class noticed them. The answer they gave was significantly higher than reality proved otherwise.

The Spotlight Effect is Driven by the Ego

The spotlight effect is such a universal phenomenon because we as humans are all guided by our ego. Not to say that everyone is selfish and full of themselves, but we are all self-centered in that we only live based on our own biases and individual experiences. We use those experiences to evaluate our world and other people do exactly the same thing. Everyone is worried about their Barry Manilow shirt getting noticed or the random dog hair clinging to their black blazer. Two terms called “naïve realism” and the “bias blind spot” also feed into the spotlight effect. People do not think they are biased, but in truth, because they are observing the world from their own perspective, they are naturally subjective in their perception. We tend to think everyone is focusing on us, when in reality everyone is just focusing on themselves. A psychologist and patient meeting and talking over a desk Source: The Expert Institute

When Social Anxiety Makes the Spotlight Brighter

Unfortunately, when a person already has social anxiety, the spotlight can appear more severe. Some find that spotlight is so intolerably bright and revealing that it makes work and other social situations almost impossible to navigate. Whereas some people experiencing the spotlight effect might feel general embarrassment, people with social anxiety can feel paralyzed by fear. Take that dishevelled hair example. A person without anxiety may think about it, and then brush off the concern after straightening their appearance in the restroom. A person with social anxiety will feel the heat from the spotlight all day, firmly believing their co-workers think poorly of them. Another way to think about it is to consider some studies that came out in 1999 about the spotlight effect. The true spotlight effect is often linked to social-evaluative concerns, such as when you think you might be judged for a job position or dancing at a wedding. Another term, “illusion of transparency”, more closely relates to social anxiety. Illusion of transparency makes it seem like everyone can see right through you, when most people probably do not notice at all.

Overcoming the Spotlight Effect

Once you are aware of the spotlight effect, you can take steps to be mindful of your perception and convince yourself to let go of your worries. For many people, just knowing about the spotlight effect can greatly decrease social embarrassment. Once you have convinced yourself that likely no one is really paying attention to you, you can ease your mind. If you have social anxiety, you may have some extra work ahead of you. Many people with social anxiety might understand their feelings are not logical, but cannot change how they feel due to ingrained patterns and deep-set fear. For those who have social anxiety and can’t shake the false reality of the spotlight effect, a recommended treatment to try is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Those who engage in CBT learn tools to help deflect negative thought patterns. Some medications may also help alleviate feelings of depression or helplessness, allowing the mind to think clearly enough to stay rooted in objective truth. Another way to finally quash feelings of embarrassment is to think back to the illusion of transparency again. Focus outwardly and observe other people’s reactions to you, finding that people generally are only in their own heads. Once you understand that this feeling of exposure is truly an illusion, you can get back to enjoying life to its fullest.

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