I once walked several blocks wondering why the whole neighborhood smelled like trash, before realizing that I had stains of grease and heavily fermented food on my shirt. That’s what I was smelling.
That was years ago, and I’ve since become more aware of things like that—especially as it happens often when I sniff a vial of aromachemical or experimental blend too closely! (Still working on my perfume proprioception…)
You could call it olfactory magnification.
It’s not hard to extend the metaphor, is it? This is the kind of thing that can happen when you get too engrossed in a situation, or in your own head. Especially compounded by the vicious cycle of isolation—the more you focus your time and energy on something (especially reacting to something), the more it seems that everything revolves around the thing, and the easier it is to forget that the rest of the human population is occupied with something else entirely.
This is called self absorption.
The point is, it’s not intentional. It’s never intentional. But it happens. And because it’s reactive, you may not always notice when it happens, sneakily. For me, connecting (however briefly) with people outside of my everyday bubble and hearing their daily or momentary struggle jolts me right back out of my own navel. That timely connection is usually not voluntary, but it should be.
Some mechanism needs to be in place to wipe that **** off your nose. By “your,” I mean mine. And yours too.