The Spotlight Effect

Every moment you breathe, you’re filming the movie of your life. One scene after another. And like most of us, you probably think everyone’s got their eyes glued to your screen, scrutinizing everything you do. Well, we’ve got some real good news for you — people aren’t really interested in your movie. Why’s this good news? ‘Cause this realization is the first step toward living the life you truly want.

Our tendency to overestimate how much others care about our lives is called the spotlight effect. It can lead to us spending too much time worrying about what others think, trying to meet their expectations and conforming to societal norms.

But people don’t go into the details about how you live your life. Even the main characters in your movie, like parents or partners, don’t think about you in much detail. Their movies also run 24/7, and they have enough on their plates, trying to navigate their own way through life. Can you imagine how little the side characters, like your Instagram followers, care then?

And if you don’t believe us, look at it from another perspective — how many people are you really eyeballing the way you worry they might be eyeballing you? Sure, you might be curious about others or love them, but you’re probably only interested in them on a very general level. You don’t really watch their movies, and that’s so liberating.

For this reason, instead of focusing on external validation to build your sense of self-worth, try to look inside yourself and discover what matters to you without pressure to conform or succeed on other people’s terms.