Handling the Fear of Being Seen

Sometimes, the fear of being seen can cause significant anxiety. Especially in the age of social media, where followers (which may include strangers or people who are no longer in our lives) have 24/7 access to our posts, it’s easy to feel exposed. Even offline, we exist in a social world where we can be observed and judged without even knowing.  

To cope, many of us mask up. We may not share certain parts of ourselves, and we may embody traits that feel inauthentic to us. Interacting with others may feel more like performing than genuinely connecting. Many of us have learned to do this to avoid abandonment or rejection 

The Spotlight Effect is a phenomenon that helps explain this fear of being seen. The Spotlight Effect refers to a false perception that people notice us more than they actually do. Our egos can make us think that everyone is invested in what we’re doing. In truth, they don’t care that much! Everyone thinks that everyone else is looking at them, but really, everyone is looking at themselves! 

The truth about haters 

As humans, we generally find discomfort in not being liked. We’ve been prehistorically wired to avoid being an outcast to survive external dangers. In modern times, feeling isolated from others can have negative effects on our mental and physical health. However, the reality of billions of unique individuals existing together is that it’s impossible to be liked by everyone. No one is everyone’s cup of tea.   

If you think about it, any judgments we have of each other are completely subjective. What one person loves, another person hates. When someone makes a judgment, it really says more about them than whoever they are judging. In fact, negative comments from others tend to result from their own feelings of insecurity, pain, or fear. For example, someone may shame someone for being “too loud” because they have been shamed for either being too loud or not loud enough. 

It’s also not uncommon for closer connections to feel uncomfortable when we express ourselves differently than we have in our past. This is because when we change, we may threaten the predictable version of us that others have in their head that has made them feel safe. Sometimes we may receive negative feedback from those who fear the impact of our changes, even if the changes are what’s best for us.  

As they say, haters gonna hate… but the twist is that it has nothing to do with us! The reactions of others are not our responsibility. Embracing our authentic selves is our responsibility. Yes, it’s hurtful when others are rude or reject who we are, but at the end of the day, being ourselves is more important. When we’re authentic, we know that the people who like us are attracted to who we really are. 

Embracing the cringe  

Cringe is the label used these days for someone doing something embarrassing. The kicker is that we can all cringe sometimes. It doesn’t make us losers; it makes us human. What if, instead of shaming ourselves and others for being cringe, we accept that it’s part of our experience? 

Embrace being uncool. Try something new and be bad at it. Seek out the experience, not the final product. Allow mistakes. Unmask. Find compassion for the parts of yourself that you haven’t accepted.  

There’s an inner child inside of you who’s been craving your unconditional love. 

Now repeat after me…  

  • There’s a reason I exist. 
  • I was born to be myself.
  • My qualities have value.
  • I deserve to be here. I deserve to take up space.
  • No one has lived my life. I am unique and there is always room for uniqueness.
  • The more that I practice being seen the more it becomes second nature.

Counseling provides validation  

Sometimes it helps to talk to someone for validation. Even professional therapists lean on other counselors for validation. Validation means having someone hear your situation, listen to how you handled that situation, and give you the support you need. In therapy, validation, as defined by therapists as “acknowledging the truth in our emotions and thoughts.” How you feel, and your responses to your feelings, is what makes you uniquely you.

A therapist can acknowledge your unique qualities, but can also help you see constructive ways forward. Reach out to us to get matched with a great mental health counselor who can support you, and see you for who you are. Get scheduled today by calling 888-830-0347 or CLICK HERE to schedule online.

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