Have you ever felt like you’re being watched?
Judged and scrutinized.
Like all eyes are on you and every potential error you make?
Everyone experiences this phenomenon from time to time, especially when trying out something for the first time.
Think back to the first time you gave a dinner party, swung a golf club, wrote a college exam, or posted your first blog online.
Social Anxiety and Heightened Experiences
Individuals with social anxiety experience this sense of being watched (and thought about) significantly more than the average person.
Independent of skills and expertise.
Why is this the case?
The Imaginary Audience
One potential explanation is a psychological phenomenon called imaginary audience experienced frequently in adolescence.
- A concept first introduced by social psychologists David Elkind and Erik Erikson in the 1960’s.
Think back to how easily embarrassed you were as a teenager.
- If you wore the “wrong shirt” to school, it felt like everyone was gossiping about you and your entire social life would end as a result.
Resulting in perpetual self-consciousness, distorted views of how others saw you, causing in a tendency to conform for fear of sticking out.
- Limiting your freedom to express outside the norm for fear of collective banishment and reprisal.
What does the research say?
Using the Imaginary Audience Scale as a Measure of Social Anxiety in Young Adults
Two studies explored the imaginary audience phenomenon among college students.
Imaginary audience behavior was found to be related to measures of social anxiety, self-perception, and personality.
Furthermore, imaginary audience scores were more strongly related to anxiety than abstract reasoning.
These results suggest that imaginary audience experiences that persist into early adulthood have more to do with social anxiety than with cognitive development.
Original Source: Click Here
Simple Things on Repeat
The next time you imagine you are being watched, talked about, or judged by others, remember that imaginary audience IS AN ILLUSION heightened by social media, physiology (eg., lack of sleep), and overthinking.
- When in truth, people are so focused on themselves (and their phones), that there is a 99% chance that no one cares what you are up to or how you are performing.
This is a very good thing!
Today’s Freedom Mantra
Live like nobody’s watching. Love like nobody’s watching. Succeed like nobody’s watching. Fail like nobody’s watching. Write like nobody’s watching!
Imaginary Audience Remedy
⇒ Watch Here
I always love your posts but this one is especially relevant to me at the moment. I’m making another leap for freedom from social anxiety and only recently while out food shopping I tried to calm myself by saying in my head “no one is watching me they’re doing their own thing”.
Now, I can also think about this imaginary audience and try and bring it to mind to find logic in my panic when I am out.
Also, “fail like nobody’s watching” that is brilliant and I think I might print it out and put it somewhere.
I’ve been far too obsessed with thinking people are as aware of or care as much about my failures as I do.
Sorry for this long comment, in short: thank you for this post. 🙂
Thanks Arbie for the depth of your comment! I especially love knowing it arrived right on time.
I work closely with your age group so I relate very much to your personal examples. Which is why video below on embracing failure may also help:
So proud of your openness, insights, & resilience Arbie!
FAIL LIKE NOBODY’S WATCHING … all day long!
Dr. D 💖☀️
This is so interesting because I have felt this before.
I took acting classes and became a small time child actor.
I had to face this fear to overcome it.
Hope you are well. I see you are always inspiring and motivating.
Your experience as a child actor is so fascinating. An incredible example of this concept.
Thank you for sharing & for taking the time to read! You brightened my day ☀️
That is so nice to know.
Write like nobody is watching. I needed to hear that one today.
We writers need each other!
So happy to be in this community with you Crystal
Note to Self
Write like nobody’s watching” is the first thing I see when I open my computer.
I also rap about it in my (parked) car. 🚘 Anything to undo the “unconscious tapes” we play in our heads on repeat.
I hope you do same today too!
It sounds worth a try! 😂
Writing Teammates ✍️📖🙌
As always great posts
My experience with social anxiety and six months agoraphobic resulted from a violent, abusive, critical father throughout childhood.
PTSD comorbid with depression usually results in us avoiding triggers to start. My father demanded perfection and pushed me into the stage of athletics.
When my Complex PTSD erupted with a crisis at 55, social anxiety was not that far from my shy, introverted personality.
I tried EFT, TFT, EMDR and many more. Nothing helped until I found a hybrid CBT, acceptance and commitment therapy.
Meditation, being able to stay present, focused, not afraid when my fight or flight ignited helped integrate my trauma.
The funny thing that happened when my well being increased, my symptoms receded, I popped out an extrovert.
My father had repressed my true nature.
Well moral,of story, we can overcome much more than we ever could imagine
Never give up, never give in
What an incredible journey of trauma, GRIT, resilience, and GROWTH! Thank you for continuing to share your life lessons Marty. I am lifted up and educated every time I read your words.
“Never give up, never give in.”
And dance like nobody is watching! Oh, I love this message Andrea and we can all take heart from it. It really doesn’t matter, so long as we’re doing what we love. Thank you for your wonderful reminders. Let’s write like no one is watching, cos you’re right, they’re not!
I feel like you’re dancing along side me Miriam! Thank you for watching & reading. Your positivity is contagious! Full circle good vibes. ✨
Yay! Love it Andrea. I most certainly am! 😊✨💫
Anxiety is the platform for lies! When we acknowledge that and keep mindful of it, we can shut down every one that tries to trigger us.
I agree 💯 percent!
Fear / Anxiety is an illusion, a lie our brain tells us, often based on old trauma.
Something I talk about midway through my TEDx talk, including the brain science behind it all:
Watch & Share if it helps your readers too! 🧠💞
I sure will! Thank you for helping us all see truth! Hugs and Happy Friday!
Thank you 💜❤️
I love this post. I can feel your heart to help and heal. Such a beautiful heart. 💜❤️
I am smiling ear to ear! Thank you so much Michelle Marie. Full circle positive vibes xo
Such an enlightening post, Andrea.🙂
Thank you for the encouragement!
You made my day shine brighter. 💖☀️
I like the mantra, Andrea! I’m also conscious most of the time that I’m really only playing to an audience of One.
The best AUDIENCE OF ONE of all 🌈😊
Pleased to connect to you & your blog.