Attention!

by tamarjacobson

Reaching into the recesses of my memory, I learn about how I came to be me. The most disturbing, and difficult habit to overcome is that I repeat what I did for attention as a young child as an older adult over and over again. Even as I understand how I developed this way, it is an extraordinary challenge to alter my behavior and feelings associated with it. For the only way I felt worthwhile or seemed to gain attention, was by taking care of my mother and father emotionally. 

Consequently, try as I may, as an older adult I continue to transfer to everyone else those old patterns of emotions and behaviors. In other words, I find that I continuously put myself on a back burner when it comes to getting my emotional or any kind of needs met. And, lately, it has become quite a burden for me. I want to shake it off. Stop it. Change the feelings and actions about it. It has been intriguing, interesting, even shocking for me to understand and realize where these habits came from. But, now, it is enough! I simply do not have that much more time in my life to play this suffering game any longer.

I have been trying out something new, and I think it is beginning to take hold. When something happens and I start to sink into my habitual self loathing, I ask myself instead how the situation makes me feel. Mostly I discover that I am angry at not getting my needs met. It does not take long – a few moments. I allow myself to feel angry and very shortly after that I sense a type of release – even joy – often forgiveness, love and understanding. And even better than that, I am able to solve the issue without much of a to do! The strange part about it is how quickly I feel better. In other words, I am able to make the connection between fear of anger and turning it into self loathing. For some reason I always thought that if I was angry I would have to express it, when just allowing myself to feel it was difficult and complex enough.

Now, more than ever, I am starting to see that "attention getting" is a huge, loaded issue in our work with young children. How on earth can teachers accept the fact that children have a desperate need for their attention, when we had to develop all kinds of weird ways of seeking it ourselves?