May I Have Your Attention, Please?

May I have your attention, please? This is big.

We all want attention. Admit it. We are no different from small children or dogs, we want attention and we will resort to certain measures to secure it. Like small children and dogs, some of us seek attention by any means, even if the attention we receive is negative in nature. Others of us, perhaps through trial or error, or through maturity, sophistication or some method of self-awareness and a resulting course of action, have found more positive ways to secure the attention we desire. But, no matter what, we all need attention and will find a way to attract it.

Unless you’re a superstar on the stage or screen, an actor, actress or musician, chances are, whether you are consciously aware of it or not, you’d probably like to attract more attention than you do. I don’t think anyone is truly satisfied with the amount of attention they are receiving until there are paparazzi surrounding their homes and following their every move. And even then, some crave more. Ok, maybe just Brittany Spears and Justin Bieber.

For the rest of us, how is it done?

Let’s address the negative methods first. The negative methods of attracting attention range wildly from the sort of annoying to the outright life threatening. Simply annoying; the loud sneezer, cougher, laugher, talker, gastric disturbance, moaning, grunting, groaning, sighing, stomping, door slamming, noisily moving about, crying people. There are those in between simply annoying and the dangerous; the liars, fibbers, gossips, cheats, chronic complainers, drama queens and back stabbers. I call these folks the “untouchables”, because I really prefer they not touch my life, in any respect. I don’t want to even share space with them. Seek to avoid. The truly dangerous folks are more likely to be dangerous to themselves, but can sometimes be dangerous to those around them; the self-destructive, the addicts, whether drugs, alcohol, overeating, promiscuity, overspending, or violence, these extremists are a danger to themselves and others, often out of a need for attention.

And we all fall into one, or more, categories, depending on our personal collection of habits and our, often unrealized, need for attention. That need for attention is often so deep seated that we do not, and often cannot ever, know what its original source is or was. Often a result of childhood, whether out of birth order, family upheaval, uncertainty, instability, or some other childhood family dynamic, or a behavioral development from later in life, experiences in adolescence, peer pressure, trauma, or low self esteem.

Low self-esteem, actually, is at the root of most attention deficits, no matter what the original catalyst was. And I don’t mean attention deficit disorder, that’s a topic for a whole other conversation, I mean, simply, the gap between the amount of attention we think we deserve versus the amount of attention we are receiving from the people that surround us, whether at work, at home, at school, or all of our environments.

These behaviors are so ingrained that we are usually quite unaware. It’s not like we sit there and contemplate what action we’re going to employ to receive some kind of notice or attention. Let’s take an annoying action, like sneezing loudly. I’m quite certain people who sneeze extraordinarily loudly don’t intentionally plot out their actions each and every time their nose tickles a bit. But somewhere along the line, most likely in youth, a loud, over exaggerated sneeze garnered them a certain amount of, most likely, somewhat negative attention. But, attention nonetheless. I often think loud sneezers, coughers, gastric upset noisemakers did not receive all the attention they desired from their parents or other family members, it became a means of standing out, of making their presence known. Loud coughers, I think, are either from the previous category, or fit into the very popular and overused hypochondriac category, drawing attention to oneself through the expression of illness, infirmity and/or injury because it’s easier than satisfying the attention quota through a more positive, active means such as achievement or merit.

That, actually, is what I think it all comes down to; we seek attention and because we lack the means to garner it through merit or achievement, perhaps resulting from events or circumstances early in life, we find other, less desirable but marginally effective means of filling the void. So, the key, then, is to identify our undesirable patterns for attracting attention, do some sincere self-reflection as to the cause or, better yet, the method for achieving the results or merit to gain more positive attention. Sounds easy, right? If only. Many of the troubles in the world would be solved if for that.

I think the first step, then, after some sincere soul searching and self-reflection, is to examine our self-esteem. How do WE feel about ourselves? Are we people we’d like to spend time with? Would we want to work with ourselves, live with ourselves, marry ourselves? Do we really, truly, genuinely like ourselves, admire ourselves, and, here it is, give ourselves the time and attention we deserve? If the answer to any portion of that is anything but a resounding “YES!” we have some work to do.

Do you suspect, as I do, that the ever increasing reliance of many on anti-depressants and other mind or mood altering drugs or treatments is to treat nothing more than symptoms or conditions caused by chronic low self-esteem issues? I honestly think low self-esteem is the one epidemic, yes, epidemic, that will have the most long term, destructive impact on our population, our society, and humanity as a whole. An organic cure for self-esteem, I promise, is all the world needs now. That and, as the song says, love sweet love. But self-esteem and love sweet love are also related. It is, in my humble and perhaps naive opinion, the one cure to almost everything. In fact, if our democracy collapses, I will blame low self-esteem. If our planet is colonized by alien life forms, I will blame low self-esteem. It is the root of all evil.

With stress and depression more and more often being considered contributing factors to conditions, illness and disease, and, if I’m even half right, low self-esteem being at the root of stress and depression, doesn’t it make a hell of a lot more sense to treat low self esteem than the results of it; stress and depression?  Lets treat the cause, not the symptoms that result from it, or the disease that manifests from the resulting stress and depression.

How, then, do we treat low self-esteem? The best method, of course, is prevention, early in childhood. Raising children in a manner that builds a healthy self-esteem will prevent many of the negative behavior patterns for fulfilling attention deficits. For the rest of us, it is a process, and one that has no one, prescribed, course of action. If you answered any of the questions above with anything other than a resounding “YES!” then start to take a hard look at your own self-esteem. Read books, read blogs, and, basically, identify what it is about you that you don’t like and fix it. This is definitely an oversimplified course of action, but in it’s condensed form, is true. I have written and written and written on measures to improve self-esteem, actions I have personally researched, used, and achieved satisfactory results from. No, the same methods will not work for everyone in every situation, but, you have to start somewhere and that first step, after identifying the problem, is educating yourself. Which I continue to do, and which I continue to write about.

So, the next time you sneeze, cough, laugh or belch, loud enough for people to exclaim, the next time you fib, tell an unsavory story about someone else, or cheat, the next time you take that drug, beat your partner or hurt yourself purposefully, stop. Think. And realize, this is a you problem, as one of my co-workers likes to say. This isn’t about anyone but you. To solve your self-esteem issues is the best, most wonderful attention anyone can pay you. And you’re in luck! You’re the only one who can do it! You don’t have to rely on anyone else to pay you this high honor! Just you! The trick, then, is to figure, out how, and that could be both hard and time consuming. The good news is, once you begin to pay yourself the attention you deserve in identifying and trying to figure out and solve your self esteem issues, you’ll likely find you require a little less attention from external sources. Nurture this and you’re well on your way. If you are in the latter category, a danger to yourself or others, after identifying your issue, the first step is going to be seeking professional help in taking the next steps. Yours is not a road to be walked alone.

So, in case you’re still wondering what the positive methods for attracting more positive attention are, they begin with you and revolve around your self-esteem. It is unlikely that many will adore, cherish, love, respect and honor you if you, yourself, do not find yourself worthy of being adored, cherished, loved, respected and honored. If you think poorly of yourself, sadly, that is the precedent you set for others, and it manifests. Our evolution into the person we’d like to become begins with an initial effort, to feel that we deserve to become the person we’d like to become. Until we clear that hurdle, nothing else, no matter the effort made, can be accomplished. Our evolution is only made possible by our self-worthiness. Until then, it is only a futile effort. Find within yourself the ability to approve of and to like yourself, then the rest will begin to evolve from there. With continued effort.

Do I have your attention, now?

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