Do you overthink and replay conversations over and over and worry about what others think if you? It's natural to care about what others think of us, but it can become a problem when it starts to affect our mental and emotional well-being.
I observe this more often than not in various leadership as well as health coaching conversations with women who overthink and worry about what others think. There are extremes of this and it looks different for different people.
Some will privately ruminate while some will overcompensate with self-promotion and speaking about themselves in the third person. Some may even identify very closely with certain fictional female protagonists. I have even seen a case where an adult professional woman identifies herself as a Disney princess and finds hope in the happy ending of that fairy tale. It these cases, it all stems from some kind of insecurity about our identity.
Let me ground us in some hard truth but also good news. There is freedom in knowing that my life is really not about me.
When you believe and understand that you are really not here on this earth just for you, you will experience the freedom to not overthink what people think about you and actually gain courage to do things God calls you to do. Personally, my faith in Christ has helped me know my identity about who I am and gain a grounded perspective on my life.
The mindset that unlocks this freedom is to acknowledge that you are not the main character in your life. It sounds strange because it is your life, why wouldn't you be the main character? What's more, this main character mindset is affirmed over and over in modern society and culture. Yes, it is your life and you matter, but that is really not the whole truth. The whole truth is your life is not just about you. Realizing this can free you from overthinking and over-analyzing every conversation and event. It can free you from thinking that there is a spotlight on you when you, for example, walk into the gym.
Unfortunately, some clients are so self-conscious that they dread going to the gym and following their workout plans because they mentally think the spotlight is on them. The truth is everyone else is focused on their own workout and not on you. That's really the reason I wanted to write this and address it head-on. Main Character Syndrome can actually affect how consistently you execute your habit goals.
If you have symptoms of “Main Character Syndrome” (aka. Protagonist Syndrome) or some narcissistic tendencies, the anxiety around what others think can easily take over. Have you heard of this before? It’s magnified in the younger generation because of the way social media platforms are set up to literally allow the platforming individuals and personalities based on popularity, looks, and lifestyle.
The person is enabled to an unhealthy extent to center themselves as the protagonist in their life story and everyone else plays a supporting role to their life and goals.
It does not mean that if you MC Syndrome, you want to physically be the center of attention or literally be seeking center stage publicly. You can be timid and introverted and still experience MC Syndrome, but mentally, the spotlight in your mind is always on you. Most people experience stage fright, and if your mental spotlight is always on you, you will be hesitant to do anything for fear of being judged and scrutinized.
Very importantly, it can also affect how well you connect with others in professional and personal relationships.
Here's another way MC Syndrome acts out in our minds. We each have “throne” in our hearts. Whether we realize it or not, there is something or someone sitting on that throne and rules our thoughts and decisions. Everything else in your life centers around the person on that throne. Everything else plays a supporting role. The person on that throne is your object of worship.
Take time to think about that. Are you the one seated on that throne and everything revolves around you? Are you always the center of attention in your own mind?
If you spend a lot of time on social media and it feeds your self-validation as the main character in your life, it could be helpful to self-reflect and be more self-aware if you have these issues. Here are a few ways of how Main Character Syndrome may appear:
Overthinking and over-analyzing situations: They may constantly analyze and replay thoughts and actions, thinking about how people and situations fit into their own story.
Exaggerated sense of self-importance: They may feel like the world revolves around them and that their experiences are more important than those of others.
Difficulty seeing other perspectives: They may struggle to empathize with others or consider different perspectives, as they are so focused on their own story.
Difficulty taking criticism: Criticism or negative feedback may be hard to take, as they feel like they are being attacked personally.
Constant desire for attention: They may crave attention and validation from others, as they see themselves as the main character.
- Disconnected from reality: They may feel like their life is a movie or a story and are desperately doing everything to get to their happy ending. They may even have a fictional character whom they really closely identify with and aspire to be like.
Start your week off with this pivot in mindset that you are important, you do matter, and have value to give to the world, but live out the perspective that your life is not just about you, not everyone is thinking about you or replaying what you said.
Be free from those thoughts, take courage and walk confidently in the calling that God has for you in your life.
Note : Main Character Syndrome is not a recognized diagnosis and should not be used to categorize or diagnose people. However, if you or someone you know is struggling with these symptoms, it may be helpful to seek the help of a mental health professional and gain freedom from this.
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