Who's the center of attention?

By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com

Does being the center of attention make you a little (or a lot) uncomfortable? As a recovering shy person who didn't dance at my own wedding, I know the feeling well. I've always made the excuse that I had to visit with our out-of-town guests, and I did, but the truth is I chose to spend my time that way because I was too uncomfortable to claim the spotlight. 

That was five years ago, and meditating has improved my confidence and social skills by leaps and bounds. When I attend a wedding these days, I can hang with my hip-shaking husband on the dance floor and have fun doing it. I will always be an introvert, though, and I'm still a long way from feeling completely effortless in social settings.

In the meantime, a little idea from Caroline McHugh has made a big impact on my way of being with others. In her fascinating TED Talk, "The Art of Being Yourself," Caroline says,


This idea has affected me viscerally and profoundly. When I focus on my appearance, my words, and my impression on others, the entire experience falls flat. I'm not fully present, so I can't fully connect and the best version of me can't shine through. Shifting my attention away from myself and onto someone else - their words, their appearance, and their energy - automatically increases my presence. If I'm focused on them, there's no room to stress about how I look or whether I sound articulate - and without even trying, my most authentic self comes out.

When we devote attention to others, we are effortless with ourselves and enjoy optimal experiences as a result. As a bonus, we become more selfless, and who doesn't want that? So give it a try and enjoy the beautiful irony: the more selfless you are, the more your best self shines through and uplifts others.