As humans, we can only see the world through our own eyes. Our own thoughts, emotions, and perceptions are all we have to try and understand the world around us.
Because we spend our whole lives inside our own head and experiencing the world from our perspective, we tend to think the world revolves around us. This doesn’t mean that all of us are egomaniacs who only care about ourselves. But it’s natural to start to believe that everyone else thinks about you as much as you do. When in reality, nobody really cares.
The vast majority of people are too concerned with their own lives to truly notice you.
The reason I bring this up is because a lot of players are held back by fear of how others will perceive them. Especially in game situations, it’s easy to think every fan, friend and family member notices every little thing you’re doing. In reality, nobody pays attention to you as closely you do. Well, except maybe your mom. But the rest of the world largely doesn’t care.
- When you think everyone is thinking about that time you passed the ball out of bounds, they probably aren’t.
- When you think everyone is still laughing at you because you missed two free throws, they probably aren’t.
Additionally, nobody truly knows what you’re thinking or feeling. They can’t see inside your mind or in your heart. So...
- When you think the whole gym can see how scared you feel, they probably can’t.
- When you think the crowd can sense how nervous you are, they probably can’t.
This line of thinking can be freeing because it means you're not as much in the spotlight as you think you are. As much as it feels like everybody is aware of your every mistake, in reality those people aren't focusing on you. They're much more concerned about how the world is looking at them.
This isn't going to cure your fear of external judgment. It’s not going to make you invincible to the forces of social pressure. But it might just help you realize that people aren’t laughing or sneering at every tiny mistake you make. And this liberating thought might help you play a little bit closer to your full potential.