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6 Good Reasons to Stop Being The Center of Attention

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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    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 August 12, 2020

    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

    When Should You Trust Your Gut and How?

    Learning how to trust your gut, otherwise known as your intuition, can keep you safe. Your gut can guide you and help you build your confidence and resilience. My own gut instinct has saved me on more than one occasion. It has also guided me into making sound career choices and other exciting, big decisions. I’m also aware of the times when I’ve gone against my instincts and really regretted it later, wondering why I didn’t tune in to that valuable internal voice that we all have within us.

    In this article, we’re going to explore why and how you should listen to your gut, as well as some concrete tips on how to make sure you’re making the most out of your gut instincts.

    How to Listen to Your Gut

    The key when making any big decision is to always take a minute to listen well to yourself and your inner compass. If you hear your actual voice saying yes while inside you’re silently screaming no, my advice is to ask for some time to think, or simply take a breath and pause before the yes or no escapes your mouth.

    Use that moment to breathe, check in with yourself, and give the answer that feels congruent with who you are and what you want, not the one that always involves following the herd. Trusting your gut means having the courage to not simply go with the majority. It can be about holding your own. Here’s how to hone that skill for yourself and reap the rewards.

    1. Tune Into Your Body

    Your body gives you clues when you’re faced with a big decision. There are many visible and obvious symptoms that we feel in uncomfortable situations. Our body’s reaction is often something that we might try to hide, for example, blushing, being lost for words, or shaking. There are things we might do to try and hide that physical reaction, whether it’s wearing makeup, having a glass of wine or coffee to perk us up a bit, or learning to control our nerves.

    However, paying attention to your body when you experience these feelings of anxiety can teach you so much and help you to make sound choices. Some people will experience an actual “gut” feeling of stomach ache or indigestion in an uncomfortable situation.

    Ask yourself what’s really going on here, and explore what is happening behind your body’s response to the situation. What can your reaction or instinct teach you? Understanding that can be a clue and can help you either learn something about yourself, the situation, or other people. The answers are often within us.

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    Sometimes we’ll get this “something’s not right here” feeling and cannot quite put our finger on it or explain it. That can still be incredibly useful and really guide us away from danger, even if we don’t know the reason.

    In his book, Blink, Malcolm Gladwell also argues this, making the point that sometimes our subconscious is better at processing the answer we need, and that we don’t necessarily need to take time to collect hours and hours of information to come to a reliable conclusion[1].

    2. Ensure Your Head Is Clear Before Making a Decision

    Energy, sleep, and good nutrition are so vital to nourishing our minds, as well as our bodies. There are times when your instinct could lead you astray, and one of these is when you are hungry, “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry!), tired, or anxious. If this is the case–and it may sound obvious–do consider sleeping or eating on it before making an important choice.

    There is, in fact, a connection between our gut and our brain[2], which is where terms like “butterflies in the stomach” and “gut-wrenching” originate from. Stress and emotions can cause physical feelings, and ignoring them might do more harm than good.

    3. Don’t Be Afraid to Say What You Think and Feel

    Listening to your gut and really paying attention to it might involve standing up and being counted, calling something out, or taking a stand. As someone who works for myself, I’ve become used to following the less-travelled road, and that’s given me the chance to strike out on my own in other ways, too.

    As they tell you in the planes, “put your own oxygen mask on first,” and part of that self-reliance is knowing what you really want and like and what is safe and good for you, including what resonates with your personal and business values. Making good decisions with this in mind means making choices that do not go against your own beliefs, even when it may mean taking a stand. This is part of trusting yourself and trusting your instincts.

    This does not always mean taking the “safe” option, although keeping ourselves safe is an important part of the process. This is how we learn and grow, by following our own inner compass. When you do take risks, go outside of your comfort zone, or choose the less popular option, spending some time researching the facts can stand us in good stead, too.

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    4. Do Your Research If Something Feels Off

    As well as listening to our instincts, we can also back up the evidence for our chosen course of action before taking the leap. I had a gut feeling about the need for a learning and development network when I noticed my clients getting stuck with the same problems. I set up and now run such a network, but instead of simply going for it, without evidence, I followed up on my instinct with research.

    Having confidence in your gut instinct through these kinds of tests can help to minimize your risks, as well as spur you on. It will encourage you to trust your gut again in the future and trust that you are an expert with foresight and experience. You are!

    5. Challenge Your Assumptions

    When you look at the assumptions your making, this could be the clue to mistakes you are making.

    In order to check that our instincts are wise, we need to ask ourselves what blanks we might be filling in, either consciously or unconsciously. This is true not just when it comes to our own decision-making. It’s also true when we are listening to someone explain a problem or situation, and we’re about to jump in and give some advice. If we can learn to be aware of our own assumptions, we can become better listeners and better decision makers, too.

    A useful tool to become more aware of your assumptions before making a final decision is simply to ask yourself, “What assumptions am I making about this situation or person?”

    6. Educate Yourself on Unconscious Bias

    Unconscious bias is something we all have, and it can trip us up big time!

    There is a vital caveat to bear in mind when wondering about whether you can trust your gut and the feelings your body gives you, and that’s having an awareness of your unconscious bias. Understanding your own bias–which is hard to do because it literally does happen in our subconscious–can help you to make stronger, better, decisions instead of re-confirming your view of the world over and over again.

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    Bias exists, and it’s part of the human condition. All of us have it, and it colors our decisions and can impact on our performance without us realizing.

    Unconscious bias happens at a subconscious level in our brains. Our subconscious brain processes information so much faster than our conscious brain. Quick decisions we make in our subconscious are based on both our societal conditioning and how our families raised us.

    Our brains process hundreds of thousands of pieces of information daily. We unconsciously categorize and format that information into patterns that feel familiar to us. Aspects such as gender, disability, class, sexuality, body shape and size, ethnicity, and what someone does for a job can all quickly influence decisions we make about people and the relationships we choose to form. Our unconscious bias can be very subtle and go unnoticed..

    We naturally tend to gravitate towards people similar to ourselves, favoring people who we see as belonging to the same “group” as us. Being able to make a quick decision about whether someone is part of your group and distinguish friend from foe was what helped early humans to survive. Conversely, we don’t automatically favor people who we don’t immediately relate to or easily connect with.

    The downside of that human instinct to seek out similar people is the potential for prejudice, which seems to be hard-wired into human cognition, no matter how open-minded we believe ourselves to be. And these stereotypes we create can be wrong. If we only spend our time with and employ people similar to ourselves, it can create prejudices, as well as stifle fresh thinking and innovation.

    We may feel more natural or comfortable working with other people who share our own background and/or opinions than collaborating with people who don’t look, talk, or think like us. However, diversity is not just morally right; having a mix of different people and perspectives that can be genuinely heard is also a valuable way to counter groupthink. Diversity stretches us to think more critically and creatively.

    7. Trust Yourself

    It is possible to learn how to truly trust yourself[3]. Like any talent or skill, practicing trusting your gut is the best way to get really good at it. When people talk about having great intuition or being good decision-makers, it’s because they’ve worked at honing those skills, made mistakes, learned from them, and tried again.

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    Looking back at decisions you’ve made, what you did, what the outcome was, and what you’ve learned can help you become a stronger decision maker and develop solid self-trust and resilience. Making a mistake does not mean you are not great at decision-making; it’s a chance to grow and learn, and the only mistake is to ignore the lesson in that experience.

    If you are in the habit of asking others for their input, then the trick here is to choose your inner circle wisely. Having a sounding board of people who have your best interests at heart is a valuable asset, and, combined with your own excellent instincts, can make you a champion decision maker.

    The Bottom Line

    The above tips are all actionable and easy to start immediately. It’s simply about switching your thinking around, slowing down, and taking great care of this amazing machine that is your body and mind!

    Learning how to trust your gut is one of the most fundamental ways to make decisions that will help you lead the life you want and need. Tune into what your body is telling you and start making good decisions today.

    More Tips on How to Trust Your Gut

    Featured photo credit: Acy Varlan via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] Science of People: Learn to Trust Your Gut Instincts: The Science Behind Thin-slicing
    [2] Harvard Health Publishing: The gut-brain connection
    [3] Psych Central: 3 Ways to Develop Self-Trust

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