Attention seekers: Kind attention!

Cartoon human standing in the spotlight on stage
Photo: © Victor Soares / 123RF Stock Photo

Attention: Do we really need it or simply want it?

Have you ever…

  • Wanted to be in the limelight?
  • Wished that people noticed what you do?
  • Wanted to win that personality pageant in college?
  • Craved the friendship of the new person who joined class?
  • Longed for responsiveness from your parents over your sibling?

It is ingrained in human nature to desire validation from those around us. It adds to the sense of self-worth and helps build a concept of ourselves; a framework in which we slot in our qualities and look back to when we feel unsure of our potential. Attention has become more of a need than a want, although it also remains true that seeking external endorsement takes away independence in thinking and makes you vulnerable to self-doubt. Why then do we crave attention so much? Is it such a good thing? And why do we feel a sense of accomplishment when we are singled out even when we have been in the wrong?

The attention cycle

We use trial and error to figure out what makes others continue to give us attention and what drives them away. Think about your friends and what you do to get them to focus on you: sometimes you use humour, at others you discuss fashion, many a time you are intellectual, sometimes sporty or musical, whereas at times you’ve even mocked them with sarcasm that has been received well based on the given situation. There may also have been situations where you’ve been insolent, inconsiderate or pompous. And that may have propelled your friends far away from you.

With initial experiences, you tend to learn that when you are courteous, considerate, tactful, and most importantly when you are happy, you pull others closer to you. And when others around you react with interest, affection and approval, you further grow in these practical skills, and find a positive place in your family, friend circle and the society at large. You get yourself into a cycle of garnering the right kind of attention for the right kind of behaviours.

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Dr Shefali Batra
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Dr Shefali Batra

Dr Shefali Batra is a Psychiatrist and Mindfulness Coach. Connect with her on Instagram @drshefalibatra and read more about her work at