#120: At the Centre of Attention and Hating It [Podcast]

This episode of the podcast is focussed on how we respond to attention; finding ourselves in the spotlight. How do we cope as introverted or highly sensitive people?

How do you feel about being the centre of attention?

For many of us it can be a struggle. Whether it’s making a speech, opening presents/blowing the candles out on your birthday, or performing something in front of a group of people. Attention can be a challenge.

In this episode I want to share a few ways of thinking about it that might help alleviate the overwhelm and pressure you feel the next time the attention is on you.

Centre of Attention

Being the Centre of Attention is Not Equal to Seeking Attention

Many introverted and sensitive people have really successful blogs and podcasts. For most it’s not a case of seeking attention but rather a slow and steady uncovering of permission from readers/listeners as they resonate with the content.

The attention is a by-product of a desire to serve.

Great work will not always go un-noticed

Attention comes to people who are seen, recognised or noticed as worth paying attention to. This might be as small and simple as a compliment

How do you respond to a compliment?

Do you try deflecting it, downplaying it, maybe even rejecting it? We must however learn to accept compliments in ways that value and honour the person giving them. What might feel like a display of humility, i.e. downplaying a compliment, might in fact feel like rejection to the other person and even come across as arrogant.

People are on your side and routing for you

When people put us in positions where attention is suddenly thrust on us it’s out of a good place, however bad it might feel when it’s happening. People singing happy birthday, the human tunnel that everyone created as we left our wedding reception, being put on the spot and asked to sing a song for a group of people.

These moments feel uncomfortable but we don’t get put there out of malice. It’s because people love you, want you to succeed or be encouraged, and want you to have the opportunity to share yourself and your gifts with others, and vice versa, want people to have the opportunity to experience you and your gifts.

Sometimes you have got to do what you don’t want to do in order to do what you do want to do

So remember that if you want to continue doing what you want to do and to take it to new levels then you’re going to attract attention and will likely end up having to do a few things you don’t want to do, or at least you’ll find yourself in uncomfortable situations when it comes to drawing attention from people.

Sometimes It’s Nice to be the Centre of Attention

Don’t ever feel like you SHOULDN’T enjoy attention. If you are enjoying it then enjoy the fact you’re enjoying it.

It’s All in the Mind

It’s worth considering what it is about attention that you struggle with.

The struggle comes at the point of overwhelm which is generally caused by my own self-consciousness, over-thinking everything and feeling overstimulated by the situation.

Hard as it is to get your head around, the outside world cannot hear all the noise happening in your head. You appear pretty calm and peaceful to the rest of us.

There is Something Special (yes and scary) About Being Invited Into the Spotlight

When I received my invite to play and speak at TEDx in Cyprus last year I was scared. It was a huge thing. The thought of attention from 400+ people in the room and then potentially limitless numbers online paying me and my words attention.

What if I messed up and got it completely wrong? Why on earth had they asked me to do it?

But I kept reminding myself that I had been invited. I wouldn’t be going if they didn’t want me there, and they wouldn’t want me there if they didn’t think I had something to share with the people that would be there. Suddenly it wasn’t about me. I wasn’t the centre of attention.

The very people paying attention were the centre of attention because my message was about them. It was for them, and I was there to share some encouragement and inspiration to help them on their journey. And that’s how I see the podcast and blog.

Attention here is not because I want you to listen to me. I do it because I want to help you get deeper in your understanding of who YOU are, YOUR temperament, and how YOU can take the next steps on your journey to making you gentle impact on the world.

It has nothing to do with me and I hope it comes across like that.

Over to You

Question: How do you feel about being the centre of attention? It would be great if you could leave your response in the comments below.


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3 comments
  1. I dislike attention very much unless it’s virtual. In fact, I once tried to calculate how getting a zero on a public speaking assignment for a class would affect my grade, just to avoid doing it. I ended up speaking in front of the class and got a decent grade, but it was painful. Sometimes I handle attention relatively well and other times I genuinely wish I were a turtle in that moment. But in any case, I shaking and wishing it were over already the whole time. I wish I could manage the anxiety so I could enjoy what could be a great and memorable and possibly impactful moment.

    1. Hi Katie. I bet many of us have made similar analyses like your public speaking assignment! I know I used to when I had to do presentations. So hard! You’re not alone. It’s difficult to enjoy things that you just wish to be over, even if deep down you know they are going to be life-changing, foundational moments that could shape your future…well I guess being aware of that might make us even more nervous! It’s definitely something I’ve found gets easier to do with practice. Experience breeds an ability to cope and the confidence to back yourself. But I don’t think it’ll ever be easy.

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