Consider this:  “The greatest gift we give ourselves and each other is the quality of our attention.”  Richard Moss, M.D.

Remember the last time you attempted a conversation with someone who was completely distracted by their cell phone? Or a video game? Take a moment … put yourself back in that moment – how did you feel?

Contrast that with the last time you had a heartfelt discussion with someone you care about- You’re both really listening to each other – leaning in, making eye contact- understanding what you were saying.  Imagine being back there … now- how did that feel?

While there is an obvious answer, allow yourself to really think about it- Which one tended to draw you in more? Which felt more distancing?  Did you feel important in either one?  Dismissed?  Safe?  Cared about?

Have you ever heard an adult say about a child, “Oh, he’s just trying to get attention” or “She’ll do anything for attention?”  When I hear that, I want to scream “well, maybe you need to give that kid some positive attention!” (I don’t ☺ )  We discover who we are, and we decide if the world is a place where we have value and get our needs met by how we are attended to growing up.

Do we say, “Mom!” 10 times before she acknowledges hearing us or does she turn, give a hug, and say “I’m on the phone with Aunt Suzie but as soon as I say goodbye, I’ll be all ears.”  Without looking up does dad say, “Can’t you see I’m busy?” or does he stop what he’s doing and say, “I’d love to shoot baskets with you. Right now I have to finish this project, but how about after dinner?”

We take these patterns of giving and receiving attention into our relationships as adults which profoundly affects our ability to create lasting loving partnerships.

Paying attention is a skill. Therefore, you can learn how to do that. And for those of you who are uncomfortable with receiving attention, you can also learn to be receptive of attention. Both are necessary for a healthy relationship because it’s how we can feel loved, cared for, respected, heard, seen. “Needing” attention has gotten a bad rap!  Let’s turn that around!

NOTE:  I intend to take a bit different approach to this blog.  I hope to inject more fun, though that’s a challenge with a subject so critical to our well being.  So serious that it needs some levity!  ☺  AND, I will be writing with a more random response to what occurs to me as I work with folks, read, and receive your comments.