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6 Good Reasons to Stop Being The Center of Attention

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6 Good Reasons to Stop Being The Center of Attention

Americans are bombarded with manipulative signals from the media on a daily basis. It started generations ago with sexy billboard models, magazines and ad campaigns playing on our insecurities. With the recent rise of reality television, talent-less pop stars, cosplay and the instant gratification of social media, attention seeking behavior has become disturbingly common. Even if you were sheltered from such influences as a child, you probably grew up with a long list of insecurities. This is what the economy and society is built on. The source may be outside of your control, but you still get to decide how actively you want to participate. Attention seeking behavior is unhealthy and it might be destroying your relationships as we speak. Here are a few pointers on how to stop being the center of attention.

Admit Your Problem

The first step to any big behavioral change is to address the problem. Attention seeking behavior is often a source of gratification and positive reinforcement. This means it is unlikely you will modify these behaviors before they have resulted in a level of misfortune to equal or outnumber your positive experiences. Some people never get to this point. If you know yourself well enough to be reading this, you are on the right track. Here are a few questions you should ask before you decide to make a change:

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  • Do you feel threatened when other people are in the spotlight instead of you?
  • Do a lot of people seem to dislike you for unknown reasons?
  • Do you have trouble working with others without being in a position of authority?
  • Do you respond negatively to the success of others?
  • Do you interrupt or talk over people in conversations?
  • How often do you feel jealous? Be honest.
  • Do you require photos to be displayed of everything you do?
  • Would you describe yourself as an exhibitionist?
  • Have you ever been called things like dominant, alpha, or diva?

In answering these questions with unabashed honesty, you should be able to determine if your attention seeking behavior has reached problematic levels. Most people will answer yes to a few of these. If you answer yes to more than half, you might want to keep reading.

Take Inventory of Your Insecurities

Attention seeking behavior is quite often indicative of deep seated insecurities. Start by making a list of the things you are insecure about. Think about where these insecurities came from and why you feel this way. From there, list all the ways in which you are acting out to overcompensate for these supposed shortcomings. Ask yourself whether or not the attention you get from acting out is really doing anything to make you feel more secure or confident in yourself. Then try to think of other, more effective ways you might be able to work on these insecurities. It helps to keep a daily journal of reflections and general observations throughout this process.

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center of attention

    Observe Your Behavior

    Once you have done some writing and meditated from a distance, try to catch yourself acting out in real time. You will find your motivations are a bit easier to pinpoint from inside the moment. Don’t try to stop yourself at first, just pay attention to what is happening and where it is coming from. Note how the attention makes you feel and what drives you to seek it out. Then, pay attention to the consequences. Did you step on anyone’s toes on your way to the spotlight? Did people praise your performance? How did this praise make you feel? Did anyone seem to be put off by your actions? Why do you think that might be? You should write about these observations in detail to allow for thorough analysis. If you are having trouble getting started, try thinking back every evening to a time when you actively sought out rewards or attention that day. Then write about it in retrospect. If you do this every day for a while, it should get easier for you to catch yourself and think about things in the moment. Try to maintain this mindful presence as constantly as possible once you get the hang of it.

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    Stop Trying to Influence Others

    Many people who seek attention on a grand scale have issues related to control. They have a hard time controlling themselves, yet they are highly motivated to control others. Since others are more heavily influenced by example than intentions, attention seekers spend a lot of time getting frustrated when things do not go according to their plans or wishes. News flash: you cannot expect other people to do what you want them to. You cannot control anyone else, and the more you expect from others the more you will be disappointed. Turn your energy inward and make yourself into a better example of what you want to see in others. Even if nobody else follows suit, at least you will know you are doing your part to make things happen the way you want them to. When you focus on controlling the only thing you truly can – which is yourself – you will be surprised at how much more correctly things get done. In doing this, you are creating a sustainable source of the validation you have always sought from others, and I promise, you will find that it is the real way to increase confidence and eliminate insecurities.

    Understand That Progress Will Take Time

    Once you have addressed a problem like this and made a commitment to working on it, the most important part is following through. This means changing a lot of really bad habits. It is going to be difficult since you are not going to see the changes you are shooting for overnight. Epiphanies take time to sink in. Compulsive behavior often takes years to fully change. While there are many milestones of progress along the way, also know there will be a lot of failure. It is important to take accountability for your foul-ups without punishing yourself too hard or giving up the fight. This is extremely difficult but totally worth it.

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    Seek Therapy

    Only you can trace all the connections between your deepest motivations and the resulting behaviors; however, it helps to have guidance from someone who has studied psychology and is experienced at helping others through such things. There is no way to predict what epiphanies will lead to or result from our most important psychological progress. For you, addressing a compulsive need for attention might only be scratching the surface of much deeper issues. Such is the journey of lifelong learning and self-improvement. Fortunately you do not have to do this alone. Many types of counseling and therapy are available to people who are committed to changing their behavior. The more honest you are with yourself and the more you are able to take criticism constructively, the more effective therapy will be.

    I should conclude by saying that not all attention seeking behavior is negative. It can be very destructive to progress and relationships if it becomes a compulsive obsession, but nobody should seek to do all work from behind the scenes with no recognition. You deserve to see the benefits of your labors. Like with so many other things there is a balance to be sought here. Sometimes you have to experience both extremes before you can find middle ground. Just keep in mind that a confident and secure person isn’t focused on credit or recognition for what he does. He has motivations related to the welfare of others and will give his all with or without getting a medal for it. He is easier for others to relate to because he does not seek constant validation for his accomplishments. In choosing to be less demanding of attention and control, you are increasing your capacity for cooperation with others.

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    Last Updated on November 18, 2021

    10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

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    10 Proven Ways to Judge a Person’s Character

    We all fall into the trap of judging a person’s character by their appearance. How wrong we are! All too often, the real character of the person only appears when some negative event hits them or you. Then you may see a toxic person emerging from the ruins and it is often a shock.

    A truly frightening example is revealed in the book by O’Toole in Bowman called Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Instincts Betray Us. A perfectly respectable, charming, well dressed neighbor was found to have installed a torture chamber in his garage where he was systematically abusing kidnapped women. This is an extreme example, but it does show how we can be totally deceived by a person’s physical appearance, manners and behavior.

    So, what can you do? You want to be able to assess personal qualities when you come into contact with colleagues, fresh acquaintances and new friends who might even become lifelong partners. You want to know if they are:

    • honest
    • reliable
    • competent
    • kind and compassionate
    • capable of taking the blame
    • able to persevere
    • modest and humble
    • pacific and can control anger.

    The secret is to reserve judgment and take your time. Observe them in certain situations; look at how they react. Listen to them talking, joking, laughing, explaining, complaining, blaming, praising, ranting, and preaching. Only then will you be able to judge their character. This is not foolproof, but if you follow the 10 ways below, you have a pretty good chance of not ending up in an abusive relationship.

    1. Is anger a frequent occurrence?

    All too often, angry reactions which may seem to be excessive are a sign that there are underlying issues. Do not think that every person who just snaps and throws his/her weight around mentally and physically is just reacting normally. Everyone has an occasional angry outburst when driving or when things go pear-shaped.

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    But if this is almost a daily occurrence, then you need to discover why and maybe avoid that person. Too often, anger will escalate to violent and aggressive behavior. You do not want to be near someone who thinks violence can solve personal or global problems.

    2. Can you witness acts of kindness?

    How often do you see this person being kind and considerate? Do they give money to beggars, donate to charity, do voluntary work or in some simple way show that they are willing to share the planet with about 7 billion other people?

    I was shocked when a guest of mine never showed any kindness to the weak and disadvantaged people in our town. She was ostensibly a religious person, but I began to doubt the sincerity of her beliefs.

    “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

    Abigail Van Buren

    3. How does this person take the blame?

    Maybe you know that s/he is responsible for a screw-up in the office or even in not turning up on time for a date. Look at their reaction. If they start blaming other colleagues or the traffic, well, this is an indication that they are not willing to take responsibility for their mistakes.

    4. Don’t use Facebook as an indicator.

    You will be relieved to know that graphology (the study of that forgotten skill of handwriting) is no longer considered a reliable test of a person’s character. Neither is Facebook stalking, fortunately. A study showed that Facebook use of foul language, sexual innuendo and gossip were not reliable indicators of a candidate’s character or future performance in the workplace.

    5. Read their emails.

    Now a much better idea is to read the person’s emails. Studies show that the use of the following can indicate certain personality traits:

    • Too many exclamation points may reveal a sunny disposition
    • Frequent errors may indicate apathy
    • Use of smileys is the only way a person can smile at you
    • Use of the third person may reveal a certain formality
    • Too many question marks can show anger
    • Overuse of capital letters is regarded as shouting. They are a definite no-no in netiquette, yet a surprising number of  people still use them.

    6. Watch out for the show offs.

    Listen to people as they talk. How often do they mention their achievements, promotions, awards and successes? If this happens a lot, it is a sure indication that this person has an over-inflated view of his/her achievements. They are unlikely to be modest or show humility. What a pity!  Another person to avoid.

    7. Look for evidence of perseverance.

    A powerful indicator of grit and tenacity is when a person persists and never gives up when they really want to achieve a life goal. Look for evidence of them keeping going in spite of enormous difficulties.

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    Great achievements by scientists and inventors all bear the hallmark of perseverance. We only have to think of Einstein, Edison (who failed thousands of times) and Nelson Mandela to get inspiration. The US Department of Education is in no doubt about how grit, tenacity and perseverance will be key success factors for youth in the 21st century.

    8. Their empathy score is high.

    Listen to how they talk about the less fortunate members of our society such as the poor, immigrants and the disabled. Do you notice that they talk in a compassionate way about these people? The fact that they even mention them is a strong indicator of empathy.

    People with zero empathy will never talk about the disadvantaged. They will rarely ask you a question about a difficult time or relationship. They will usually steer the conversation back to themselves. These people have zero empathy and in extreme cases, they are psychopaths who never show any feelings towards their victims.

    9. Learn how to be socially interactive.

    We are social animals and this is what makes us so uniquely human. If a person is isolated or a loner, this may be a negative indicator of their character. You want to meet a person who knows about trust, honesty and loyalty. The only way to practice these great qualities is to actually interact socially. The great advantage is that you can share problems and celebrate success and joy together.

    “One can acquire everything in solitude, except character.”

    Stendhal

     10. Avoid toxic people.

    These people are trying to control others and often are failing to come to terms with their own failures. Typical behavior and conversations may concern:

    • Envy or jealousy
    • Criticism of partners, colleagues and friends
    • Complaining about their own lack of success
    • Blaming others for their own bad luck or failure
    • Obsession with themselves and their problems

    Listen to these people talk and you will quickly discover that you need to avoid them at all costs because their negativity will drag you down. In addition, as much as you would like to help them, you are not qualified to do so.

    Now, having looked at some of the best ways to judge a person, what about yourself? How do others see you? Why not take Dr. Phil’s quiz and find out. Can you bear it?

    Featured photo credit: Jacek Dylag via unsplash.com

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