The Unnecessity of Large Scale Attention: Being Seen Over Seeking Attention

I was talking with a friend the other night, and she asked me a very interesting question: “How does one stop the consistent craving for attention? Or is it this a craving for the new and exciting?”

A good question. I told her I needed to think about it for an hour or two, really wrap my head around the idea. So I washed the dirty dishes that had been stacking up over the last few days, and I thought about how I would like to address her question.

Here is a summary of what I said:

The first thing I want to start out with is that drinking water is really important. If you don’t get water, and you drink saltwater, you will have an unquenchable desire for water. And if you don’t have clean water, you will die.

The same is true for the way we are seen in the world. There is a very important part of being human which is being seen for who we are or at least for who we want to be seen as. It is when we don’t have this deep feeling of been known that we seek out and desire more and more attention.

Now I would like to point out, if you are in a negative space in your own head where you don’t love yourself, you might be putting yourself around people who can’t actually provide a meaningful connection. So you might find yourself seeking more and more negative connections to fill this void. There are plenty of people willing to give endless amounts of attention, as much as you desire, and in my experience those people tend to need a lot of attention in return. This tends to lead to a needy attachment style within the friendship or relationship where neither person ever feels truly comfortable being alone without the attention of the other.

Since the connection quality is low or unsustainable, you substitute for quantity and push into attention-seeking behavior. This is a very human response to the real problem of feeling lonely. Quantity of attention does not mean the quality of attention. It is important to have people and a community of people seeing you for who you are.

Maybe this is happening for you? I know I feel this way at times, especially when I feel lonely or haven’t been spending nearly enough time with good friends that see me for who I am. It is also harder right now with the pandemic.

Do the people with whom you spend your time with accept you for who you are? Are you giving yourself permission to show up as yourself, flaws and all, and not catering towards appeasing other people’s needs or perceived viewpoints of who you should be?

I would ask yourself both of these questions before seeking attention or when you feel that desire for attention.

I strive to find stillness when I feel this way. I need to see the world clearer, and I cannot do this from a skewed viewpoint. I find a few minutes of meditation can make a world of a different. Try it sometime. I meditation regularly, daily in fact, and it has made all the difference.

We can all agree that is undoubtedly important to be seen, but we need to look at the quality of the attention and whether or not it serves to make our lives better or worse. In our modern world and with the invention of social media we have easy and immediate access to a large amount of attention. This attention, if not properly managed, can easily become a band-aid for a much deeper problem and even lead to the slow creation of a character of who you really are.

As Mister Rogers sings,

“You are my friend
You are special.
You are my friend
You’re special to me.
You are the only one like you.
Like you, my friend, I like you.”

It is okay, and also necessary for you to show up in the world as yourself. Hiding behind a facade is not as much a character flaw as it is not letting oneself the permission to show up as the flawed person you are around friends, family, and loved ones. None of us are perfect, and that is more than okay.

How does one stop the consistent craving for attention? Or is it this a craving for the new and exciting?

Start putting yourself in front of people who see and accept you for who you are, and stop wasting time and energy with people who don’t.

And, here’s the audio messages I sent her if you are interested:

I’ve been listening to a good book lately…

Something I’ve been working on in my life lately is paying close attention to the information that comes in front of me and what information I chose to digest, so to speak. Per the recommendation of Matt D’Avella, Youtube Star & my Minimalist Hero, I picked up the book, Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday. (For the first 32 pages of the book: click here.)

In this book, Ryan talks about the importance of allowing and encouraging silence in your life. Many of the happiest and most successful people that have ever lived in our planets have been able to access this place in their mind of contentment within the void, or the absence of both stimuli and ego.

I believe this to be quite applicable to creating a positive environment in your life for people to see you for who you are. When you remove the stimuli around you, you begin to create a space for you to experience you, your emotions, and the world around you for what it is. Do you have things you do to purposely prevent yourself from being present? Why?

The world is a beautiful place

We spend so much time worrying about who we are, what we stand for, and how others perceive us. Why?

All around us is beauty. All we have to do is be curious like we were as children. I continue to learn that there are people that will love us for who we are as well as those that will be disgusted and despise us. We have little to no control over other people and their thoughts about us, so maybe it is time to give up on that venture.

And maybe, just maybe, when you open yourself up to seeing and listening opposed to seeking and desiring you’ll find it easier to make new friends, meet the love of your life, or simply be content and happy with yourself.

Thank you for reading.

P.S. Dear Reader,

I hope that you have enjoyed my thoughts. They are not always perfect, just like myself, they are a work in progress. I invite you to sign up for the newsletter (below on mobile, to the top right on desktop). This tells me you enjoyed the work I am putting out there, and it helps me continue to keep Points of Connection going!

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Austin Hunt

Meet the Author:
Austin Hunt

Austin is the lead writer and creator of Points of Connection. He's been studying dating, relationships, and how to build authentic intimacy for over 9 years now. You can find him sipping away at a cup of coffee at a local shop making friends with the stranger next to him.