The Attention Detention

I spent virtually all of my childhood staring into space and day dreaming about all kinds of stuff. It was only when playing sport that I was present and focused because that was competition time. I was someone that just had to win at everything I did. If I didn’t score the most goals or win the most races I felt as though I wasn’t good enough. Sport was my outlet for external validation.

In my adulthood I seem to have carried on that same desire for external validation, only this time I have applied it to a career perspective. When I hear people talk about great pioneers of the world and the super elite, I feel as though because I don’t match up to the same level of success that I am still not good enough. It has always really bothered me that I am not talked about in that same manner.

Even to this day, I castrate myself for not being perfect. Yet I really cannot seem to figure out why perfection is so important to me. Am I just very insecure? I am beginning to shed some light on what might be going on in my very weird and wonderful mind. And it has to do with a very complex asset that we have. In fact, in my opinion, it is the only asset we have.

I am talking about our attention. If I were to donate money to a charity then of course it would be appreciated and used accordingly. If I were to donate my time then, again, it would very much be appreciated, I am sure. However, those two forms of energy I have used may not necessarily equate to me actually caring about the cause itself.

In my view, the only thing that shows care is our attention. One partner in a relationship may express a desire to spend time together but if the other person is spending that time looking on their phone then it is not quality time at all because there is no attention on the other person. Likewise, a parent may think they are showing love to their child through finances but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the child will feel loved at all.

So I continue to ask myself what my attention is on and even though it is very much split across several things, they all point back to the same thing. The approval of others. For whatever reason I just need people’s attention to be on me. I need acceptance, and on a very large scale it would seem. I do admit that I feel somewhat lonely and isolated in this world as a result of this desire.

The strange thing is that as a kid I hated attention, unless I was trying to show off in front of a girl, of course. I couldn’t bare it when adults would look at me with that expression of “ahhh” if I said something amusing or wore something that made me look ‘cute’. It drove me mad and so I kept finding ways of staying out of the spotlight.

Then came the other end of the spectrum in adulthood. I had to buy a nice car when I passed my test in order to stand out. I had to be out all the time living the high life, being the life and soul of the party. Earlier today I was looking through some old photos and reminded myself of just how lairy I tried to dress in order to get noticed.

I’m not quite sure what I ever hoped to achieve. Some kind of celebrity status, maybe. Being adored by many. All it is is just fantasy thinking that keeps me trapped in a cage in my own mind. Having been very closed and shut down emotionally for most of my life I know that it is connection I long for. A real connection, that is.

In this day and age we are able to connect with virtually anyone in the world. It really is quite incredible. In my attempt to connect with many people I would use the usual methods such as social networking for example and build a big friends list whereby I could upload photos of me living the so-called ‘perfect’ life. When in reality it was just a lie.

My long running foray into online dating only cements my belief that I am still playing at the surface level despite trying to tell myself that I want something ‘real’. I tend to jump the gun a bit with the matches that I get by being honest from the outset. When I say honest, I mean being open about myself, but it goes down like a lead balloon.

I tend to assume that by being open and honest from the off gives the girl a chance to see both sides of me. Yet they seem to have found it very off-putting. Which, now I think about it, I can understand. At the same time, however, would I truly want to start dating someone that I think may not be very supportive in the long run? And conversely, would I even want to burden anyone with my current incessant need to figure myself out? It is all a very confusing process that I would be best to remove myself from for the time being.

With my quest for connection, it appears that my attention is very much fear based. Since going self-employed some years back I realised just how insecure I am about fending for myself in the world. My attention started gearing towards potential disasters. Before I knew it I was very much a doomsday protagonist.

In all honesty, I always have been. I have always lived in fear, it just intensified when I first stepped out into the world on my own. Being sycophantic and somewhat Machiavellian were very much my default behaviours. If I could talk others down behind their backs then I might get the connection of those I was trying to impress. It was as if my survival depended on the approval of others and by any means necessary. By trying to destroy the trust that may be had in others, I felt as though that would promote me to the top.

Asking for help is something that I am just too proud to do so in order to get ahead I will typically bitch and moan. Recently I went to Dr John Demartini’s Breakthrough Experience seminar and towards the end of the first day I was getting quite frustrated. I wasn’t able to think straight and he was being quite pushy to everyone which I instantly put up a rebellion against.

Quite immaturely, I was hoping he would pick on me so that I could argue with him and get kicked out. When I had a chance to calm down a little I still wouldn’t ask the facilitators for help. I remember thinking that I would rather die than ask for help. I have always felt that asking for help makes me weak.

Is vulnerability a strength though? Is it ok to be open now? There is still such a stigma around mental health unfortunately, despite a great breakthrough occurring in recent times. From my own experience, comparison is what has always held me back for so long. I was always comparing my life to a fantasy of perfection and unrivalled success. Yet it was merely so that I would be accepted.

It is a common belief that acceptance starts from within. And that the relationship we have with ourselves is the most important one we’ll ever have. Yet how do I get there? How do I start loving myself for who I am as an individual? How do I stop comparing myself to others? How do I move away from fear based thinking?

I was reading an article about a retired footballer than had had some rough patches throughout his career. Having come through it all, the article talks about how he is now comfortable in his own skin. The author made reference to the idea that it can come across as arrogance to have achieved that state. It really took me by surprise because isn’t that the place that we all deserve to be?

Most of my time is spent studying multiple topics. I am a very curious being. I have such a desire to know more and more and it can sometimes become very overwhelming. One topic I study is wealth building. Having gone through debt struggles I managed to get my finances in order and got myself started on the path to financial freedom. The operative word there is ‘freedom’.

What may be construed as being money driven is actually freedom driven. Yet I now know that freedom is a state of mind. It is easy to criticise the so-called money hungry people in society yet when you look a little deeper, maybe they operate from a fear based mentality just like me. Do we really know the underlying reasons for someone’s behaviour without actually asking them?

If freedom is a state of mind then it becomes so apparent that being a slave to the opinions of others is what I have imprisoned myself with. It has dictated my thoughts and behaviours for as long as I can remember so now it is time to let go.

And it all starts with me.

Less complaining about people in order to propel myself up a fabricated chain of command. Less moaning about events or circumstances and take full and complete responsibility for myself. Being aware of behaviours that I make in order to impress others and instead opting for ones that serve me. Choose thoughts that empower me and enrich me as a person rather than those that keep me trapped.

My default behaviours only serve to create baggage. An accumulation of things. Possessions, ways of thinking and a constant cry for attention. The paradox is that this type of abundance only brings scarcity. With my attention and focus being so split over how best to act in order gain approval, I lost sight over what is most important.

Being so shut down and guarded for all these years has blocked me from such expression. The one thing that makes everything else pale into insignificance. John Lennon said it best.

All you need is love.


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