Oscar Wilde said that there is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about. We tend to think our motive is win in our arguments or business interactions, yet often you might really be motivated by trying to satisfy your need for attention. Attention may be ‘hostile’ or ‘friendly’ but still fill the appetite for attention. In the act of fighting, each is acknowledging that the other matters.
Our failure to understand our need for attention routinely lands us in trouble because it leaves us at the mercy of anyone, however unpleasant, who’s willing to bestow some. When people feel ignored, a political leader who makes them feel acknowledged will acquire their support, even if he’s an egomaniacal tyrant with no plans to improve their lives. A controlling or abusive partner will doubtless pay you plenty of attention, even as he or she destroys you. Worse, you’ll be predisposed to believe it when you’re told the abuse or message or whataver comes along with the attention is “for your own good.” You are vulnerable to the message that too often accompanies the exercise of attention towards them. ”
We think of “attention-seeking” as a character flaw, but maybe the deliberate skillful seeking of attention is what is missing for many of us. We are made wiser and stronger as soon as we start to see it as a universal need – met in healthy or unhealthy ways.
( I did not write this – just summed up an article by an author whose name I left out when I photocopied it. The author is building on the work of Idries Shah as it intersects with current sociological and psychological research)