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Running in an imagined spotlight

5 May 2022

Running in an imagined spotlight

The power of creation to restore perspective on reality 

Words Belinda Davis

For the past eight weeks, have exercised every morning except Sundays. 

Now that I’m on a roll, I’m more inclined to get up and run rather than offer the usual excuses to stay in bed. 

My usual course is around neighbouring streets where am guaranteed relative anonymity at 6.30am. However, was at a conference recently, so woke to unfamiliar surroundings. 

I was by the beach, so the thought of running along a path next to rolling waves and a sandy shore was quite enticing. The weather was so mild and lovely, and it was a delight to be in the fresh air. It was also a well-lit path, which is helpful in the pre-dawn darkness, although that brought about a situation that caused me great anxiety. 

Due to the beauty of the surroundings, the path was quite popular with runners. Everyone was polite and respectful, but I became obsessed with the fact that Iwas physically larger than most others. All could think about was what everyone else on the path must feel about me being out in my running gear. The taunts inside my head intensified as I ran. 


This phenomenon, where you believe that others are noticing you and your behaviour, is called the spotlight effect – literally, because you can feel that you are constantly in the shining light and fully visible to all and sundry.

This can be a fleeting experience or develop into crippling anxiety. For me, it is the former, and Ican usually talk myself into forming a more accurate perspective. On this occasion, running by the sea and the sound of crashing waves drowned out this inner voice – otherwise am not sure would have been able to continue.

I love the sound of the ocean because it brings me to a point of mindfulness and relaxation – and it now served to pull me back to reality rather than the altered reality Ihad found myself in.


Nature holds such a restorative impact. It brings me to a place of equilibrium when life seems unbalanced – my feet in the sand or the sea, my face to the sun, or the breeze on my skin.

The Bible tells me that when look to the natural world, can learn more about truth and the Creator. The Old Testament book of Job, chapter 12, verses 7-9 says, “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?

I am grateful for the impact of the sound of nature that helps give me a perspective to function more truthfully and continue with my efforts to live a healthier life.

I hope that next time you find your inner voice starting to drown out reality, you can find the opportunity to spend some time in nature and hear God’s truth.

Major Belinda Davis is a Salvation Army officer (pastor) in South Australia. She blogs at


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