Many of us were ‘encouraged’ to discover and engage in the act of most innocent deception of attracting much needed attention before we even became aware of what we were doing.
When you are a baby, you need attention, you need love, and recognition – you have the urge to know that you exist, that you’re real – which is all good, it’s part of an essential and healthy ego development. If the attention is not automatically given by our parents when we need it, for as long as we need it, we have no choice but to discover how to attract attention. That’s how we begin learning to manipulate energies and people around us. The story begins with a very special and simple kind of sound called ‘crying’.
For example, if you did not receive the attention needed from your mother when you were an infant, you had to figure out how to get her attention and eventually you discovered that making noise, i.e., crying, ruffles the feathers and achieves the intention.
Surely, that can be very confusing for parents – there is crying and there is crying. One is real (pain, discomfort, hunger), the other is also real, but intentional – there’s a subtle nuance that reveals the truth and only mothers who are very much connected and in tune with their babes will know exactly which cry is which. But not all mothers have the privilege or that kind of awareness. (Please note, there is no judgement, blame, or shame intended. Thigs are the way they are and everything is a subject of change.)
This is how manipulation became part of our identity, how it initially helped us attract attention and develop our personality. If you’re interested in this topic, tune into the interview about the importance of vegal theory and the co-regulation when mothering a child, which helps the child to learn about very important act of self-regulation. Knowing how to self-regulate gives a shared feeling of support and helps the child to develop the required neuroplasticity, i.e., the boldness, the strength required to courageously venture out to the world. (‘Trauma and the Nervous System’: Gabor Mate and Stephen Porges – see link below; Time stamp 33:30 – 36:05).
Nearly every mammalian child has 100% access to their mother for as long as they need her – apart from humans. Not that long ago – in hunter gathering societies – infants used to be attached to their mother for as long as they required their presence. Any other way seemed unnatural. Yet, when you look at our modern society, it is clear that infants and babies lack full access to their mother or father (mothering instinct occurs in both genders). Hence, most babies or children are literally ‘encouraged’ to find all sorts of ways of getting the much-needed attention.
Do they get it or not is a different story. Was it successful and fulfilling, or not? If unsuccessful, what kind of traumatic experiences did that leave in their psyche? What are the consequences?
It depends from one person to another, but the good news is, co-regulation happens in every stage of our life, hence we subconsciously seek intimate connection to other mammalians that help us self-regulate (well, that’s one of many reasons). Co-regulation happens when we are intimately connected to another mammalian – be it our partner, friend, or a pet.
Looking at the state of our society, the level of disconnect between people – many of us can not give up the need for attention, because it was never fully satisfied and we’re still trying to compensate for something that was never fulfilled. Hence, we crave and seek attention; we come up with all sorts of ways to attract other mammals – just like flowers attract insects to pollinate them and ensure their succession.
Think about the phenomena of social media – it seems to me, it was a natural consequence to develop a system that enables any kind of human interaction – however, I think it gives a false impression of receiving attention we deeply need. The number of likes and followers may boost our ego, but I’m not sure it satisfies what we truly seek. It’s important to be aware of it – else you can get lost – the path can easily lead you towards developing a new addiction.
We are human beings, we are fragile, yet incredibly resilient. We need attention, we need love, we need to be recognized for who we are. We also have a need to give attention, love, recognition to others. As long as you don’t build some fake identity of yourself, as long as you remain authentic, content with who you really are, you will be fine. Even if you end up having a million followers on your social media account or just a few. It’s all the same. Because you know yourself, and nothing, and no-one can ever change that.
Stay alert though. Be careful you don’t start bluffing, pretending to be something or someone you’re not, just because you think you will gain more traction and attention – you can slowly and surely get lost and drift away. That’s another well-known trap and the deeper you get into it, the harder it is to get out, which can turn into yet another level of misery. Here, I’m happy to share my mantra with you; you can trust me, it works: ‘Know yourself, be yourself, love yourself.’
Before I end, I invite you to try something out. Next time you receive attention, accept it with gratitude, don’t take it for granted – respond gracefully – pay it forward wholeheartedly! When someone talks to you, listen to them attentively, being fully present. This includes humans and mammals. Only with the attitude and intention that comes from your heart, can the much-needed healing of this deeply rooted, multigenerational issue, that humanity is currently facing, begin. Every intention counts.
I wish you all a beautiful and blessed day!