The article primarily discusses “The Spotlight Effect” and how we sometimes fear expressing ourselves the way we’d like to because of the possible embarrassing outcomes that may result.
The Spotlight Effect states that when we are visualizing other people’s possible reactions to us we imagine an outcome far worse than would truly play out in reality. In essence, as the article mentions, we tend to put limitations on our actions solely because of the chance that they may result in failure.
We are all guilty of this. Each of us has stopped short of giving an opinion or acting on a desire merely because of some phantom thought about how things may turn out. We tend to have more faith in our ludicrous, self-defeating predictions than in our abilities as capable human beings. We’re sadly and simply afraid to fall. Afraid to fail. Sometimes just afraid to be vulnerable for one brief moment to share whatever has developed in our minds with the outside world. The Spotlight Effect says that not only do we picture ourselves failing, but we believe our actions will have double the perceived impact on other people than is actually true.
Lets take the first kiss for example. The first kiss has created an endless string of awkward moments between the sexes since the beginning of time. I think the Spotlight Effect is the culprit. No one wants to hold their breath and make that dreaded first move. The lean in at the door at the end of the night. The inviting glance on a romantic terrace. Sometimes the spotlight can be so bright that a guy could have a girl voluntarily spend the night, but
I wouldn’t he won’t make a move because his Spotlight has suddenly turned into the Batsignal lighting up the sky (or so I’ve heard). When we find ourselves with even the smallest vested interest in a situation it raises the stakes and fills our path with potholes. Its not until we accept the probability of failure and take a leap of self-confidence do we actually start living the lives we want. Before that we’re simply spectators, watching from a distance.
We only have one life, so it only makes sense that a lot of our time will be spent thinking about our various challenges and obstacles; the items keeping us from what we want. But oddly enough we always think that if we somehow mess something up, if we reach too far, or try too hard…and don’t succeed, the world will be watching to emphasize and remind us of our failures. The truth is, thats just not the case.
The authors of the “Spotlight” article go on to state that in the long run people tend to regret the things they failed to try, not those that were tried and blundered.
“More is lost by indecision than wrong decision” – Carmela Soprano .
The reason why people watch TV, movies, and read novels is because they want to experience characters that live outside the parameters of our normal world. Characters that are not afraid to look the fool, to take the chances we don’t, that say the things we don’t say, and generally live the way that sometimes we wish we could. We also take the embarrassing scenes and images we see on television and insert them into our lives as “real life” examples of what may result from our actions and that’s just stupid. But think about it, I’m sure its happened to you.
Hopefully now with a working knowledge of this possible “Spotlight Effect” it will bring us at least one baby step closer to being the people we’ve been all along. Because without the imaginary internal blooper reel, maybe instead of trying to predict our futures, we can start living them.