How others notice things about us & what to do about it (social anxiety)

May 29, 2015

Book Illustration Depicting Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in a Train Cabin

“By a man’s finger-nails, by his coat-sleeve, by his boots, by his trouser-knees, by the callosities of his forefinger and thumb, by his expression, by his shirt-cuff —
By each of these things a man’s calling is plainly revealed.”
– Sherlock Holmes

Insurance companies are in the business of using stats to make money.

They ask a few questions to figure out how expensive of a customer you will be. Then they charge an appropriate premium per month to be profitable.

The most important question they ask?
Smoker or nonsmoker.
Just that one thing will let them know everything there is to know about your lifestyle.

It’s crazy that they can insure without ever having seen you in person or done a full physical. But it works.

People make snap judgements all the time.

Women judge a man very quickly.
His shoes.
Does his belt match?
Dirty uncut nails? Game over.
And other things I have no clue about.

This one haircut lady was telling me her #1 pet peeve.
When she’s in line at the grocery store and a man in front of her has an untrimmed neckline. It bugs her so much that she has to switch to another line!

I went into a CVS to get my ears cleaned.
Because I heard about it on a podcast.
The nurse said I already had super clean ears. Then she noticed my neck is looking dark. It’s a sign of pre-diabetes and I should have it checked out by a proper doctor. Something I had never noticed all the times I stand by the mirror to brush my teeth!

People who buy fake rolexes & fake purses are only fooling people like them. Same goes for guys who put the casing of a fancy car on top of their crappy one.

The real folks can spot fakes a 100 yards away.
And all of us can quickly size up a person by the way he walks, talks, dresses, or answers an innocent-seeming question.

All of these thoughts make it nearly impossible to live a normal life.
It seems people are always judging us and know our deep dark secrets. At least I feel like that on days my spotlight effect is high and confidence low.

The spotlight effect is the phenomenon in which people tend to believe they are noticed more than they really are. Being that one is constantly in the center of one’s own world, an accurate evaluation of how much one is noticed by others has shown to be uncommon.

The reasoning behind the spotlight effect comes from our human tendency to forget that although one is the center of one’s own world, one is not the center of everyone else’s. This tendency is especially prominent when one does something atypical. Research has empirically shown that such drastic over-estimation of one’s effect on others is widely common.


I try to tell myself the following when feeling social anxiety:
They’ve done studies that show people usually think better of me than I think. Cringe-worthy memories of my past are better than I remember. And everyone is thinking of themselves way more than they are of me.

In reality no one cares. No one notices. Most people are stuck in their heads. They have a crazy inner monologue they’re trying to handle. And even if they do notice our untrimmed necklines, who gives a fuck?

I’ve seen plenty of untrimmed necklines & ugly shoes in my life and I could care less about it.

And the most successful people in the world have all started out as odd ducks. Who wants to be normal? Who wants to conform? Who wants to fit in?

Shave your whole head and leave only the untrimmed neckline if you want.

image source wikipedia