At some point in our lives, we have all met someone who strongly believes that the world revolves around them.
“I thought that you guys were talking about me when I saw you all laughing when I walked in. I’m sorry!”
This is something we may have heard from someone we know, or we may have said it to our friends or peers in an awkward manner because their laughter or conversation was misunderstood. It is a common occurrence in everyone’s life. Most people have experienced instances in their lives when they have felt this way or that others have felt this way. The question is, why do people feel this way?
Prejudices from within our intellectual thinking areas are thought to be the source of such relatively minor thinking errors. The terminologies “Ideas of reference” and “Delusions of reference” are used interchangeably by clinicians and researchers to refer to this phenomenon. ‘Ideas of reference’ and ‘delusions of reference’ are phrases for when a person believes inconsequential incidents or coincidences have deep personal relevance. It is the belief that everything they see in the world has something to do with their own destiny, usually in a negative or hostile manner. Some sources distinguish between the two, implying that notions of reference have a less impact on a person’s overall existence.
“Ideas of Reference,” according to psychology, are mistaken ideas that random or irrelevant events in the environment directly relate to an individual. Irrational thoughts are referred to be concepts of reference when someone believes their thoughts, actions, or presence caused certain events to occur. Most people experience these kinds of thoughts from time to time. Someone entering an unfamiliar situation, a meeting room for example, may perceive that everyone in that room is staring at him. By objectively considering the situation, most people could get rid of a nagging sense of reference. Let’s say an individual is walking through a crowded office, and he hears two people laughing. At first, such a person may believe those individuals are mocking him. It could make him feel self-conscious or perhaps anxious.
At the same time, “Delusion of Reference” refers to the notion that unrelated events in the outside world have a special importance in the person’s life. A delusion of reference, for example, can develop when someone sees a movie and believes there is a strong message in the movie that is meant just for them, and this makes perfect ‘sense.’ Delusions of reference can also be seen in other forms of popular culture. For example, a person may assume that a music video they are viewing has hidden messages for them. A good example is Charles Manson, the cult leader of Laurel Canyon, believed he was receiving injunctions to act in various ways from songs by the Beatles.
In reality, an individual’s beliefs about what others think of them are usually far less severe than what they assume or believe. People around us often have less time to pay close attention to what we say, our clothing choices, and our behaviours than we assume. What we must realize is that people do not have the time or energy to constantly remember and observe others. It’s an emotion that should be addressed or recognized. The best way to deal with such feelings is to understand why they arise in the first place and to be aware of them. Misconceptions regarding one’s own self-worth are usually the source of such feelings. It stems from a fear in a person’s thinking that they are missing something within them and that others might find out about it. In brief, loss of self-confidence is one of the main causes of such feelings, and it has the potential to escalate to dangerous levels if left unaddressed.
It’s crucial to remember, though, that there’s another side to this. Those who have inflated self-esteem or are overconfident may also have similar feelings. Individuals who consider themselves to be popular often believe that people around them will always recognize them no matter where they go. Similarly, many individuals in modern culture tends to regard themselves as celebrities because they have been featured in the media or because they have a large number of social media followers, leading them to feel that people will always recognize them. As a result, such individuals believe that what they say or do is always noticed and watched by everyone.
The remedy to the above two extremes is for individuals who lack self-confidence to find effective ways to boost it, and for those who believe they are above their heads to identify their thinking errors. Self-promotion might even become part of the individual’s character, which makes it difficult for them to identify and find solutions on their own. It is impossible for an individual to recognize that they are suffering from a delusion of their own rendering. As a result, such individuals’ friends or relatives are the best sources of guidance and expert assistance. If not addressed, this could lead to increased levels of delusion or even hallucinations.
To conclude, it is important to remember that if left unaddressed, such thinking errors can lead an individual to serious mental illnesses and in the worst case scenario lead to severe conditions like schizophrenia. In a nutshell, it’s a condition characterized by self-esteem and self-assessment issues. It’s best to recognize such feelings between confrontations and seek resolution as soon as possible.