A woman prepares for an interview for a job that she really wants. She’s read up on the company and the job requirements. She leaves the house confident and dressed for success. As she gets closer to the interview site, however, she begins to question herself. Should she have worn a longer skirt or maybe a pants suit? Will the answers that she’s rehearsed cause the interviewer to think that she is overly aggressive or conceited? She continues to second-guess herself throughout the interview until she winds up knowing that she bombed it.
A recreational golfer stands over a makeable 3-foot put on the 18th hole. If it goes in he will break 90 for the first time in his life. As he lines it up, he starts thinking about the fact that it’s not a sure thing. He’s missed shorter puts before. If he misses this one, when will he get close to breaking 90 again? Needless to say, he “chokes” and misses the put.
In each of these examples, the participant changed roles and became a spectator –and became worse off for it. When we go to a sporting event or movie or play or concert, we go as a spectator. We don’t have to be as committed as the players or actors or musicians, and we have the right to criticize or not be enthused about the performance even though the performers may be much more talented than us. The role of the spectator is much different than the role of the participant.
The term, “Spectatoring” is frequently used in sex therapy & is defined as “the act of a person focusing on him/herself during sexual activity, as if watching oneself as a third person”. It makes for lousy sex – that is at best un-enjoyable, and it often leads to inability to perform.
When you are a participant in any human activity, you give up the luxury of being a spectator. Participants go through a preparation process that involves self –correction. The preparation process is aided by objective self-assessment, feedback from others, and even appropriate self-criticism. But once you commit to an activity or a person or a change, be a participant. Whether it’s taking a test or applying for a job or learning a new skill or speaking in a group or asking for a date, be a participant. In life, there are lots of opportunities to be a spectator. Do it when somebody else is performing. Respect your commitments by not sabotaging yourself through spectatoring.