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            Attention. Some crave it. Some shy away from it. Others can take it or leave it. Some have spent but a few moments reflecting on how they feel about it. Other’s try to fathom it. Have you ever asked yourself about, and then dared to understand, your relationship with attention?
            Dale Carnegie said that everybody wants to feel important. In our desire to feel important, attention usually plays a role. That is, the more attention we get, the more important we feel. The more important we feel, the better we feel about ourselves. The better we feel about ourselves, the happier we are.
            Obviously, there’s a fatal flaw in that construction of reality. If our self worth is defined by an outside source, such as how much attention we get from other people, then our happiness isn’t up to us. We’re at the whim of the world, which we have no control over. This is an extreme example, but it illustrates the point of how painful it is to look outside, rather than inside, of ourselves for self worth and happiness.
            By no means do I consider myself a master at deriving happiness from within. But I am aware that it is the way. I know that my sense of self, my self worth, and my happiness, are all inside jobs. I aspire to loving myself enough so that I feel good about me regardless of what’s happening in my life. I don’t always do it, but I’m aware it’s what I need to do. I would dare say that self love is the great challenge of humankind. Or certainly one of it’s great challenges.
            Entertainers and performers, and I include myself as such, are particularly vulnerable of falling prey to deriving too much of their self worth through the amount of attention they get. That’s what fame is all about. Attention. There’s something inside those of us who love performing in front of others that’s not there in everybody. That desire for lots of attention, preferably from lots of people, at once. A crowd. Big or small, we love an audience. Because we get to be the center of attention. And we love that. It makes us feel good. Makes us feel important. Makes us feel....loved.
            I struggle with this question: Is there something fundamentally wrong with wanting to be the center of attention? I have to accept it, because it’s the truth. To resist that is to resist myself. But if I derive so much pleasure from that attention, and that attention isn’t there, then I’m depending on the outside world for a sense of happiness. And I know that isn’t the way to go. So it can feel like a conundrum.
            I would argue that people who look for self worth primarily through their work are in the same boat as entertainers who need the attention of an audience to feel important. Both are looking almost exclusively outside themselves for something they can’t give from within. A CEO obsessed with power and wealth has more in common with a musician who needs the fix of an audience than it appears.
            My fear is that if this is the way I am, this attention glutton, then I’m never going to be happy because I’m counting on something else besides myself to make me feel good about me. But the truth is, I do love attention. So what do I do? I’ve set it up as a no win situation. If I accept it, I’m screwed because depending on the outside world for happiness is a one way ticket to agony. And if I say “I don’t want to be this way”, I’m fighting myself. I’m denying a piece of me. Either way, I don’t win.
            Being an extremist, I tend to polarize things in order to understand them. But I’m aware that isn’t the best way to gain clarity. So I’ll step back from my all or nothing thinking for a moment and try something else on this morning.
            I have to accept the fact that I love being the center of attention, because that’s the truth. But I realize in this moment that a part of me does not accept that. A part of me feels there’s something wrong with me for being that way. It is in fact my own judgment about myself that leads me down the wrong path. It is that part of myself that does not accept this truth about me that is in conflict with the rest of me that’s perfectly fine with it. This is called a splintered personality. A personality in conflict with itself.
            How well does that describe you?
            What I could do is completely embrace the fact that I love attention, without judgment, but not derive any sense of self worth from it. By embracing it, I’m no longer in conflict with myself over it. I’m no longer so splintered. I’m more whole. By not using it to bolster my sense of self worth, I’m not hanging my happiness on the outside world. This removes both horns of the dilemma.
            There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be the center of attention. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel loved, which is ultimately what attention is all about. For whatever reason, be it from my childhood, or from past lives, or both, it’s there. The world needs people like that. The audience needs the performer as much as the performer needs the audience. What we don’t need is to become stuck in those roles. To derive too much of who we are from that relationship is painful folly. It’s never healthy to always be the performer, or always be the audience.
            The big picture is that I aspire to love myself, regardless of the audience, while accepting that I prefer lots of attention over relative obscurity.
            It never ceases to amaze me how it all always comes down to self acceptance. To self love. In that, I suppose, our complicated lives are really quite simple.

    Note: I would love to hear from those of you who shun the spotlight, because I’ve never been like that and I want to know that side better. Use an alias, but let me hear you. And fellow attention grabbers are of course welcome.

    ©2009 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and a stage full of Wrongs) Reserved.

    Reader Comments (2)

    Hm. Well interesting thought but it's more complex than that. We have an ego for a reason it is important part of human identity and a healthy one is definitely a good way to live in the world. However the ego is not enough. The subconscious and unconscious mind
    play a role in our daily lives. Research indicates between the ages of 30 and 90 the personality is basically fixed and inflexible to change except in moments of extreme duress (such as life threatening) or intense psychotherapy.
    There are people many of whom you may have seen a portrait of on VH1 or MTV who have what seems
    to be it all (in terms of what American society consider success) big crib, fancy cars, pools, playgrounds, can travel wherever whenever,
    paparazzi, gorgeous woman (or multiples of same) yet they are not happy. They may even turn to drugs and alcohol to deal with that
    inner pain. People want to be accepted yet they also need to know boundaries and know that everything they say or do is not
    perfect right wonderful ohmygod wow. Your burgeoning self awareness is good but it's contextual in your personal experiences.
    WE THINK that attention is GOING to give us what we desperately crave. But if that is true why is some attention never enough.
    Just like having too much money, is there such a thing? When I want attention from someone who means something to me (not family)
    and I don't get it I try even harder to get it. I know this. I've done it and then wondered why is this not enough. What would be enough?.
    So if I do get said attention I am NEVER satisfied. It is like a drug to me. I want MORE attention. But if you listen to Kid Rock songs he is saying hey I have this big career everyone pays homage to me and my music and yet I am utterly alone and without someone real and genuine and true in my life. Also I find that some of the most incredible entertainers who really let it all hang out on stage are really promoting an alter ego identity. If you were to meet them in real life in a more regular setting they might appear either downright NORMAL and boring or very very shy. Because when you get right down to it. True
    INTIMACY/LOVE/ etc is friggin scary and also hard to find whereas the devotion adoration of people enjoying one's performance
    can be quite hollow and shallow in the final accounting. It's meaningless in the context of you have to eat right? To stay alive. But
    while you may be able to recount your top fave five meals of all time and your top all time performances as an entertainer. It's always
    a NEXT scenario. We eat because we have to but after that meal is over we move on to the next meal. We know what we enjoy eating but it doesn't take over our lives because it is a need that is so important to survival it just is something we need. Attention from others is vitally important to health and well being of most humans. We are social animals most of us. I find people who cloister and there are those who need tons less attention and physical contact and ego stroking than others have cast off that NEED to be in close contact with others. They may find it overstimulating or too much energy to please everyone all the time. Many people get an animal such as a dog or cat for just such reasons. The animal replaces the human need for company and let's face it they are generally a lot easier to please on a daily basis than humans with their often unreasonable irrational demands. The relationship with one's children up to teenage years generally fulfill a deep need for many people to get just that sort of attention on a frequent basis. They need you and it is very unlikely they will walk out the door and never return. So to each his own I say.
    Anyone well versed in astrology can look at a chart and see exactly how that person is likely to express themselves in the world whether introverted or extroverted and whether they will live as an island unto themselves as much as possible (members of cloistered nunneries for example or genius scientists who live almost exclusively in research facilities bent over a table) , or become passive people who allow everyone to live their life for them and never make a decision to save their life, or the personality of extrememly interested in intense experiences (sports, travel, entertainment, exciting career) or surround themselves with spouses, children, and extended family and never venture outside of the town limits without extreme provocation. One of the women in the entertainment field who really has staying power who really seems to live her life on her terms is Dolly Parton. No one has ever seen her husband ever. He is very private and likes to stay home. She has a good sense of herself. She is extremely talented singer songwriter who came from extreme poverty of appalachia (they were forced to eat small furry creatures they could catch in the woods and wear hand me down clothing bordering in rags) and she seems to have found that balance.
    Though admittedly people who can get to that point may be rare it can happen. I suggest you clarify who and what you want to
    be put it out there as your INTENTION and then make decisions and put energy into that which leads you toward that goal.
    The rest is superfluous really. You are never going to please everyone so you have to figure out what pleases you and as long as you are not breaking the law/hurting other people why shouldn't you be allowed to be whatever it is your heart's calling says to you?
    I cannot stand it when people don't like me, criticize me (unfairly I feel) and put a lot of energy into harming me but those people
    are useful to help me define truly who I am and what I am made of and what I stand for. I'm certainly not going to let them win. That would be the real travesty. I guess in my long winded way what i am trying to say is this: even if everyone on planet earth venerated you, would that really give you inner peace and make you really happy or would you eventually grow bored or realize everyone is a stupid idiot
    for not seeing how imperfect you are? Powerful People surrounded by sycophants eventually believe the BS and become monsters because they lose all perspective on themselves and the world. All the different personality types are needed to advance society and
    to allow for differenct views and experiences. We don't need to judge someone's path because it is different than ours. That's what the
    push for allowing diversity is all about these days. Do we stay tribal and territorial and behave as animals or do we rise above
    our animal nature and advance humanity in the 21st century.
    And finally my mother used to say: "Honey if you are too obsessed with yourself and your process you obviously don't have enough to do." And my ma had a great way of getting me off my ego horse and on to the ground again. Recently I came up with the 50/50 philosophy and it seems to work. Spend 50% of my time obsessing about my personal growth process or whatever my most pressing problems are, and 50% of my time being productive toward activities that might be useful to the world on whatever level I could manage. Then I might have something to show at the end of the day. If you really want someone like Princepessa back in your life ask the universe to bring you the right person. As I see it, you were ready to change. She provided the catalyst. Perhaps she is also teaching you what real unconditional love is and that's a whole nother ballgame entirely. That's my two cents for whatever it's worth.

    March 9, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterme myself and I

    Wow. I would first suggest you start you own blog, because you have much to say. Thank you for your insightful comment. I will let your words speak for themselves, because I find there's so much I could respond to, it would be a whole post on it's own. I hope the three of you come back often.


    March 10, 2009 | Registered CommenterClint Piatelli

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