Focusing On Our Flaws

When we are hyper-focused on our self-perceived flaws (an unflattering new haircut or a coffee stained shirt, for example), we believe that other people will notice them too. However, research shows that this is not the case. Others do not notice these details as much as we think they do. However, at the same time, we underestimate the amount of attention we receive in general.

In an article from The New York Times titled “You’re Too Focused on What You’re Focused On” Erica J. Boothby explains:

“…The problem, in both cases, is that we project the focus of our attention onto others. Because we’re fixated on our coffee stain (or whatever we happen to be self-conscious about), we assume others must be, too. But when nothing in particular draws our attention to ourselves, we neglect the fact that we may nevertheless be an object of other people’s interest.”

Additionally, when we assume that other people are focused on the same things we are, miscommunication frequently occurs.

“…Employees pull their hair out in frustration while bosses obliviously believe their instructions are simple and straightforward. Spouses feel misunderstood because their partners fail to notice that they cleaned the house. Activists preoccupied with the issue of health care assume others are uncaring because they can’t recall what a single-payer system is…We all have a tendency to egocentrically ascribe our own perspective to others. That doesn’t make us selfish or bad. But it’s worth keeping in mind that everyone’s attention illuminates the world in a particular way, and what gets spotlighted differs from person to person.”

Read the article here