Even when you could swear that others are eyeballing what you are wearing, what you are doing, or even know what you are thinking, there is a good chance your brain is playing tricks on you. The fear of people staring at your is your brain playing tricks. If you want to build self-confidence, it takes worrying less about what others think. Here are some tips to get started.
Judging if others are looking at us comes naturally as it is actually pretty complex, what happens inside our brains. Our brains have to do lots of work behind the scenes. Our brains determine if someone is looking at us by figuring out where their eyes are pointing and the direction of their head. The brain fills in the blanks using information from prior experience. Researchers have tested this by creating images of faces and asking test subjects where they believed the people pictured were looking. They made it difficult to determine where the figures’ eyes were pointing. The subjects’ brains made assumptions during the tests that showed our brains are hard-wired to believe others stare at us, especially if we are not certain.
Why We Worry
There are many reasons to worry when someone may be starting at us. Fear and vanity are important elements of the human psyche. Children with autism are less able to tell if someone is looking at them and someone with social anxiety constantly fears others are staring. Direct gaze may signal dominance or a threat and if you perceive a treat, you would not want to miss it. Assuming the other person is looking at you may simply be safer.
Tips to Build Confidence
Some part of you may realize that you are more self conscious in groups of people or around others than you have to be. Confidence-building exercises can help rewire your brain to think differently. You may try by:
- Acknowledging when someone does make eye contact with you as a positive sign of engagement
- Know personal boundaries and when an engagement or possible engagement feels safe or not
- Know your brain is wired to think certain things but you can focus on rebuilding confidence in your ability to change from worry to positive affirmations
- Have a list of positive affirmations with you to tell yourself when you feel less than confident
The challenge of building confidence is that we are always working on it. There is never a time we don’t work on building confidence. It is a lifelong journey, especially in recovery. Finding some people on the journey with you can help share the experiences and make them feel less isolating.
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