We’ve heard it all said. Someone is “seeking attention”, “why can’t they just keep quiet and not make a fuss?”, “she’s such a drama queen!” and so on. But is it really bad to seek attention? You could say that any time we speak or communicate we are asking someone to pay attention to us, isn’t that the same thing?
Ignorance Isn’t Always Bliss
Studies have shown that being ignored can be just as harmful, if not more harmful than being bullied. It may sound strange but think about it, if someone has something hurtful said about or to them then at least someone is thinking of them! Even an argument between friends is still interaction of some kind.
This kind of finding has been mentioned by philosophers but more in depth studies from psychologists and neurologists show that we would rather have some form of interaction with someone than be ignored by everyone. Our lack of understanding how and why we need this attention can be problematic such as calling people attention seekers when they may just be lonely or proud of their actions.
It’s Not a Character Flaw
Our failure to realise that this behaviour is normal can land us in trouble sometimes, this is when people can end up in relationships just for the sake of someone paying attention to them, even if it’s negative or damaging. Many of us want to shout out about what we did well or something we achieved that day but worry that others will see it as seeking validation or boasting, or again as seeking attention.
Many times on social media people complain that so-and-so is going on again about the goals they met at the gym or the meal they made. The fact is that the person they’re complaining about is proud of their accomplishments and isn’t afraid to let others know about it. This isn’t ever a bad thing, we encourage children to be proud of the things they make and the progress they make in school and in life. Why as adults do we scold one another for it?
Think of the Bigger Picture
As well as people being proud rather than bragging you can also see people saying things like they’re fed up, they’ve had a bad day, they are tired of their job. This negativity again can be seen as attention seeking “he just wants us to ask what’s wrong” or “she’s always complaining”. What’s worse is when you ask these people what’s wrong they may brush you off. This often labels them as an attention seeker and people go on to ignore them, something that as we now know can be very painful and upsetting.
People like the ones mentioned above are often reaching out for help but don’t know how to do so in a direct way. This doesn’t make them a bad person, maybe they just want their mind taken off it, a hug, a compliment, a friend to let them know if they want to talk, then they will be there for them.
So if you’re ever called an attention seeker or feel yourself about to call someone one, then try thinking a little deeper. It’s not a bad thing and it often means something else is going on underneath the surface.