The technical name for the fear of people looking at you is Scopophobia and can be a very debilitating. Whilst some cases need specialist 1:1 therapy, many people find that simple techniques like the one I will share in this post can make a big difference.
First you have to understand what causes your “scopophobia ”
Phobias are the result of exaggerated thought process, often triggered by an early negative experience. These patterns get “locked in” causing an emotional chain reaction. One thought triggers another, and that thoughts triggers the next until those thoughts become extremely exaggerated, causing phobias and anxieties.
I’m going to share one sufferer’s thought process, just so you understand the sort of thing that used to go on in her mind when a phobic reaction is created and what she did to resolve it.
Here’s a typical example of thinking that can trigger anxiety about people looking at you:
“As I’m about to give a presentation , I feel like when I’m about to get in a huge, scary roller coaster. I’m aware of the people looking at me and how people react to every action I make. As soon as I make a mistake no matter how small the mistake is or was, my mind will exaggerate it and that’s when the chain reaction of thoughts begins.”
“As the negative thoughts are triggered, now I’m more aware of my surroundings and ultra aware of everything I do. How I am standing, how fast my heart is beating, the tremor in my hands and the churning in my stomach. These thoughts trigger other physical reactions and ramp up my anxiety.”
“Soon my mind is flooded with dozens of thoughts and explanations that make me lose concentration. My concentration levels become so low that a lot of times is almost and impossible to speak without hesitation or going blank.”
“If this goes on it will become hard for me to pay attention or to think straight. it will also trigger other physical and mental reactions like, severe nervousness, the need to escape the situation, shaking, blushing, and numbness of my body. The chain reaction of thoughts repeats itself, until I’m out of the presentation.”.
In this case what triggers the scopophobia are the exaggerated thoughts of people looking at her and thinking negatively about her and her apparent awkwardness when in reality most of the time they don’t even notice it.
One solution for scopophobia:
To eliminate the fear of people looking at you, you have to either change your thought processes or eliminate what triggers those thoughts. The lady in the above example chose to eliminate the triggers.
To stop looking awkward she created a second personality, a personality that she assumed when she had to give a presentation.
For example she described to me how she chose a role model (a TV character in her case) who, she believed, had the confidence and social skills that she aspired to.
When she wanted to appear confident in a presentation, or other situation where she felt people were looking at her, she would imagine what her “role model” would do if they were in her place. How would they stand, move, speak, and react?
By copying how that person behaved (but not what they would say) she was able to project more confidence than she initially felt and as a result her anxiety started to subside automatically.
This is just one of a number of techniques that can be applied when your fear of people looking at you is stopping you get your message across and perhaps holding you back from a new job or promotion.
If you have found your own solution to the problem of scopophobia please share it with us by leaving a comment below.
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