Get You Some Attention

Illustration from The Pied Piper of Hamelin

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Frances was five years old and her dad was long gone.  Mom was not parenting much in those days, meaning when Frances laughed in timing, parked her bike in the rack and watered the dog, she felt transparent.  When Frances kicked and screamed, Mom gave her a bunch of attention to redirect her.  When Frances sat at the table quietly, no one spoke.  However, Frances did need attention so she spoke with her mouth full of food and said bad words.  Her motives were not bad.

Frances being young, she was still primitive.  She didn’t see the dimensions of life.  Her thoughts were concrete and told her to scream.  She didn’t know her motives were parenting her.  And while she grew up, her brain was myelinating those behaviors right into her own Indian trails of learned responses.  And not only did Frances have these neuronal grooves of negative attention, she had poverty of paths toward positive attention.

Years later, after much brain-city planning and hard work, Frances had herself some hard-earned different neuronal traffic.  She consciously named her basic emotional needs that motivated her behaviors, such as attention, love, trust and safety.  She deliberately responded more often than automatically to things.  We were even able to joke about it.

Frances said that she should be the Pied Piper for negative drama.

Everyone with negative emotions and theatrical behaviors, follow my car!  And then I’d drive them into the ocean.

We all have legitimate reasons to seek emotional succor.  Me.  We may find ourselves moving from crisis to crisis to get attention, but we don’t have to.  We don’t need crisis to deserve good things.  When doing well emotionally and behaviorally, we are equally deserving of asking for attention, love, trust and safety from ourselves and others.

The motive is rarely the problem.  It’s the timing.  That’s what automatic behavior means.  It is in the positive times that we need to drum up more positive drama; get that feedback that we so crave.

Engaging in a dangerous performance that gets Me hurt is not friendly.  Being friendly to myself might mean learning to re-time when we get dramatic.

Some people cut and burn themselves on purpose materially.  Some people do it emotionally.  A key to our insight here is owning that we have the power.  That everything starts and ends with Me.  When the knives and fire are ablaze on stage is not when we want to get involved.

What’s your timing?

Questions:  How do you see timing play into when you think that you are loveable? Do you think that when you are hurting is when you deserve to be loved?  Does the suffering make you more deserving of connection with others than being in a “good” place emotionally and behaviorally?  Please tell us your story.

Self-Care Tip – Time your efforts to receive love, attention, trust and safety.