The Attention Seeker

attention seeking brightonWhenever I hear a person labeling someone else an ‘Attention Seeker’, there is always something in their tone of voice or manner which suggests judgement – a sneer, a rolling of the eyes, a sigh of exasperation. Apparently, to seek attention from others is not a good thing. It is, in effect, a bother. What can be done?
The Origins of Attention Seeking
In my experience, people who continually seek attention from others have invariably lived through a crucial time in their lives – usually in childhood – when they didn’t receive enough developmentally appropriate attention from those charged with taking care of them. In an attempt to repair this loss, they continue this desperate search to have their needs met into adulthood. Often, this quest for repair is completely out of awareness and the irritation of others is met with bewilderment and the familiar feeling of still not having those needs met.
Am I An Attention Seeker?
If there is a suspicion that we ourselves are an attention seeker, we might feel ashamed for being so ‘needy’ and caught between a desperate longing for connection and a fear of overwhelming others to the point that they abandon us. Perhaps we start to notice a pattern of other people routinely becoming irritated by our need for proximity, reassurance and to repeatedly talk about our past and present life. Here, there is a real danger that we will overload potential friends and push them away.
How Psychotherapy and Counselling Can Help
If you are feeling overwhelmed by someone who is seeking more attention from you than you are prepared or able to give, therapy can help with how to set personal boundaries that allow for compassion whilst still taking care of the need for your own space. If, as a parent, you are struggling with how to handle a child who is demanding your attention beyond what feels tolerable, good therapy can help you to stand back from the situation and think about different possibilities for responding to your child’s needs and repairing any shortfalls from the past.
Counselling and psychotherapy can be particularly powerful for people who struggle to make lasting connections, fear overwhelming others with their needs and suspect that their (normal) desire for attention from others has got out of proportion. Often, exploring childhood memories can help heal old wounds and shed light on current behaviour which is, paradoxically, having the opposite effect to what is strongly desired.
If you live or work within reach of Brighton and Hove and my approach to psychotherapy and counselling interests you, please contact me via email or telephone 07585 910742 for more information and to arrange an initial consultation.
Copyright Caroline Clarke, Psychotherapy in Brighton and Hove
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