Today, we’re going to talk about the importance of getting comfortable with holding attention.
People tend to respond to others who are comfortable with attention in different ways: some people admire it, some people cringe at it, some people get annoyed…you can learn a lot about yourself by the way you respond to people holding attention without issue.
I want to start with this: there’s a difference between trying to get attention and being able to hold attention, and your ability to discern between the two will be the difference between you being able to get vulnerable and build a supportive relationship, and you not being able to open up and be seen by your partner.
There’s this thing that happens where, when we receive attention, we think it’s because we look like someone who is trying to get it. We either perceive ourselves that way, or we fear others will.
Because of this fear, we think that if we accept that attention—if we accept a compliment, share how we feel, etcetera, people are going to get the wrong idea about us.
Here’s the truth: attention isn’t the enemy. And we need to reframe our feelings around it.
When it comes to feminine energy, the wounded version of feminine energy is competitiveness and comparison.
Feminine energy speaks to abundance and how it speaks to, um, like an overflow or there’s no limitations. There’s no bounds to things. But when we have a wounded feminine energy, we actually feel like we’re in a competition for resources. Attention being one of them.
This sense of attention being a limited resource can result in slight guilt surrounding receiving attention, which is why we tend to feel like we have to do our part and give that good attention right back.
If somebody is giving us a compliment, and we are able to hold attention, we don’t feel the need to release that energy back to them. Instead of feeling like we have to shove the attention off of us because we don’t know what to do with it or because we feel bad about holding it, we can just accept it and be thankful for it.
This guilt comes from us confusing the act of receiving attention with the act of seeking attention. We feel if we receive attention, we’ve somehow sought it out in some way, therefore taking it away from others. But that’s not actually the case.
Furthermore, when we aren’t capable of holding attention, we might end up projecting onto other people. Maybe we see people with colorfully dyed hair, a luxury car, fancy clothes, whatever it might be, and we think they’re seeking attention…but in actuality, they’re just able to hold it. They’re not worried about people looking at them in a certain way based on what they have.
Let me give an example from my own life. A couple of years ago, I was out getting boba, and I saw this one guy, and he was dancing in the middle of the parking lot with his AirPods in.
You know what my first thought was? It was, “Is he drunk? Why is he dancing? What’s he doing out here? I mean, come on, it’s a parking lot.”
He wasn’t bothering anyone. He wasn’t out in the road causing issues. He was just in his little corner dancing, having fun. But that was still my first thought. And I remember getting really curious about myself, because it was so interesting that this person was out there having fun, listening to their music and dancing, and my first instinct was to cringe and ask why he was acting that way.
This person was perfectly sober and fine, by the way. He was just dancing and excited. He was comfortable being seen, he was capable of holding attention, but he wasn’t looking to get it. He was literally just enjoying the music in his ears.
The lesson here is that if you’re unable to hold attention without second-guessing yourself every five minutes, your self-expression will end up muted and capped.
If your mindset is focused on what others are thinking of you, your self-expression will absolutely suffer for it.
Holding attention, by the way, does not necessarily mean you have to be engaged with what’s happening around you. It just means that if somebody’s looking at you, if you are in a visible position, you are able to have people look at you, see you, have whatever interpretations they have about you, and carry on with your life.
For me, I roller skate a lot. Nine times out of ten, if I’m on my skates, I’m dancing on my skates. And I remember when I first wanted to dance a little on my skates, I was so preoccupied with the idea of people thinking I was looking for attention.
I actually did not know how to experience attention in a supportive way. I didn’t have practice with holding attention. I was convinced people were going to think I was looking to get attention, that I was crazy, that I’d had a bit to drink before I got on my skates, whatever. But now, to me, I’m just expressing myself. And any conclusions people come to outside of that, that has nothing to do with me.
Attention and visibility are not the enemy. If we can’t figure out the concept of holding attention, how can anybody see us? How can anybody see who we truly are?
Holding attention isn’t just about being able to hold positive attention, either—we have to get used to holding attention in both negative and positive forms. We need to be able to receive both support and rejection.
That’s how I see it. Not that I go and seek out one or the other, but if rejection happens, it’s cool. If support happens, that’s cool too, but my comfort with holding attention is actually not led by receiving one or the other.
Confident people are not operating on conditional confidence. If your confidence goes along the lines of, “I feel good being myself, so long as my environment is completely reflecting back to me that it’s okay, because I hate rejection,” then it’s not true confidence. It’s conditional, which means it’s destructible.
If I’m operating separately from how I’m being received, then support or rejection will not have an effect on my confidence. But if I’m operating based on whether I receive support or rejection, that’s not confidence; that’s not holding attention. That’s still bending to what others think of us.
I think if we actually spent more time getting intimately close with the part of ourselves that wants to be invisible, we’d experience a level of confidence like we’ve never seen. We’d experience a level of self-expression we didn’t even know we were capable of. But we are.
When I’m dancing on my skates, could somebody see me and think I just want to get attention? Possibly.
Could somebody also see me and think, “Wow, that’s really cool. I love those skates.” And then go on with their day? Possibly.
I actually have no idea what people are thinking, and I don’t really care, because I’m capable of holding attention. It’s just fun to dance on skates.
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I think a lot of us have very muted self-expression. We put our self-expression through a million filters, including our own projections of what we think people are thinking of us, and we become a muted version of ourselves.
This also plays out in our ability to be vulnerable with people and to be seen. Many times, we literally choose to be invisible. And it’s ironic, because maybe there was a time where we felt invisible, and now we’re actively choosing invisibility through the form of muted self-expression.
Maybe we feel like it’s a chore to talk about ourselves when we’re on dates, because we’re actually disinterested in ourselves. We are actually disinterested in ourselves, because we’ve made it a crime to actually bring attention to the parts of ourselves we like.
So how do we fix this? Well, if you know anything about me, I don’t believe in fixing things. There’s nothing to fix. Every time we ask how to fix something about ourselves, we’re actually avoiding the truth of what’s happening with us.
Instead, can we actually take a look at the places we are contributing to this invisibility? There’s a lot to witness and observe with this. Where are we choosing to be invisible? Why are we making that choice?
Even if I gave you a quick affirmation or told you “Do this instead of doing that,” there would still be this underlying feeling of, “I’m choosing to not be seen here. I’m choosing to be invisible.”
That’s why I don’t believe in “fixing it.” I believe in taking accountability and responsibility for where we are contributing to this thing. So much can come out of being willing to take a look at which part of us doesn’t want to be honest about this aspect of ourselves.
I hope that you enjoyed this discussion surrounding visibility and holding attention. I hope that you take a look at where you’re choosing to be invisible, where you have trouble seeing others, and where you might start projecting things onto them.
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