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  • Mattie Bohanan

Science proves you didn't actually self-sabotage like you think you did

How many times have you walked away from a conversation with someone and thought to yourself: “Yikes! That did not go too well”? If you have, you are not alone. I am right there with you, friend!

This can even further be explored in the job interviewing scene. Have you ever walked out of an interview and convinced yourself that even though you know you would be a good fit, the interview didn’t showcase that? Only to get a call later asking when you can start?

In a previous blog post, I stressed the importance of self-care, specifically when it came to check-ride time. Today, I want to continue that conversation and talk about how it’s important to care for yourself even after less than “perfect” interactions. To your surprise, you most likely did not come close to the self-sabotage you think you just committed.

According to Psychology Today, there are two natural phenomena called “The Liking Gap” and “The Spotlight Effect” that help explain why we all feel this from time to time.

In short, the Liking Gap explains the tendency to underestimate your likability when conversing with someone else. The Spotlight Effect explains how you are much more likely to fixate on yourself, specifically on the “negatives,” more than anybody else will. (Whenever I am convinced that I may have said the wrong word or said something odd, I always have to humble myself. Even though I might think the whole world revolves around me, it really doesn’t – imagine that!)

Just like you accept someone else for not being perfect, we must be accepting of that for ourselves!

We must become our own biggest advocate and cheerleader, and we must give ourselves affirmations. We deserve it.

Everyone is human. It is OK and normal for things to not go “perfectly.” In fact, it can help us learn a vital skill that is critical in aviation – the ability to pick yourself back up and keep going. If something in flight doesn’t go exactly as planned, you don’t just stop there and dismiss the whole flight over that one thing. You move on, learn, grow, and accept that it is okay to not be “perfect.”


(If you would like to read the entire Psychology Today article discussing “The Liking Gap” and “The Spotlight Effect,” click here.)


Mattie is a CFI/CFII and a Graduate Research Assistant at Auburn University, where she is pursuing an M.Ed. in Adult Education. She enjoys drinking her morning coffee, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.

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