There are many things that human beings need in order to feel fulfilled and one of those needs is the need to be seen. This doesn’t mean that they have an inherent need to be ‘famous’ though; it simply means that they need to be noticed by others.
And while one could be noticed by others due to what they have achieved, it can also take place regardless of what they have achieved. Therefore, it doesn’t matter whether one is being noticed for what they have done or because they have just bought something in a shop. Ultimately, it comes down to being acknowledged by others.
So for the average person, this need could be fulfilled by their close friends, colleagues, family and partner. This could also extend to the areas where they socialise.
And through having this need fulfilled, one is going to feel as though they are important. Even though there are going to be people who don’t acknowledge them, there are plenty of people who do.
Part of them might think about what it would be like to be noticed by everyone and at the same time, they might realise how this is not possible. Similar to how it is not going to be possible for them to notice everyone.
But as long as one is noticed by the people that are in their life, it shouldn’t matter whether some people are unable to. However, if the people they are close to don’t notice them, for instance, they could have a greater need to be noticed.
Their attention could then be focused on being noticed by as many people as they can. And while their intention is simply to be noticed, they could end up being labelled as an attention seeker.
If one was to act in this way, it could be because they are not being noticed by the people around them. This type of behaviour may also arise even if one is being noticed by the people around them.
Out of Balance
When it relates to someone who is getting attention, it is going to be a sign that something is not right. It is then similar to someone who is hungry and yet no matter how much they have to eat, they are still hungry.
What this could mean is that one wasn’t noticed whilst they were growing up and this has then set them up to look for what they didn’t get all those years ago. But as this relates to an unmet childhood need, it won’t matter how much attention they receive as an adult.
These needs will need to be faced and grieved and as this happens, one’s need for attention will begin to diminish. They might then find that the attention they receive from the people in their life is enough.
However, just because the need to be seen is an inherent part of being human, it doesn’t mean that everyone feels comfortable with this need. They are then going to be different to the people who do feel comfortable with this need and who are able to have it met, and to those who are unable to fulfil this need no matter how much attention they receive.
This doesn’t mean that the people who feel uncomfortable being seen live like hermits; as they could be in the limelight. Yet no matter what they do or how successful they are, they are still going to do everything they can to avoid being seen.
The need to be seen is not only an important part of one’s ability to survive; there are also mental and emotional benefits. How they feel can all depend on who notices them and what the context is.
What it will all come down to is that one will feel as though they exist and everything else will be an extension of this. This is because human beings are interdependent and need others in order to survive. So if one is not seen by others it is naturally going to affect their sense of self, how they feel about themselves and what takes place in their mind.
On one side then, one feels the need to avoid being seen and on the other, they have the need to be seen. But they could be disconnected from this need as their attention is on doing everything they can do avoid being seen.
This shows that one is not working with themselves, they are working against themselves. But even though this may have been how their life has been for many years, there is going to be a reason why they are this way.
A Deeper Look
If one was to be seen by others, it could cause them to feel as though they will be harmed and/or smothered. And based on what it means for them to be seen, it is only natural that they will avoid attention.
There may have been moments in their adult life where they were harmed and/or felt smothered, but it is likely to be the result of what happened during their childhood that had the biggest effect on them. What has happened to them as an adult is then a continuation of what took place during their childhood.
During these years, one may have experienced some form of abuse and this may have been emotional, physical, verbal and/or sexual. If this was the case, being seen would have caused them to suffer. It was then in their best interests to do everything they could to avoid being seen.
The need was there for them to be seen, but if they were to embrace this need, it would have caused them to be violated in some way. And as their caregivers ignored their needs, it would have meant that their personal space was also ignored and this would have stopped them from being able to develop boundaries.
Although time has passed since these early experiences, the emotional experiences of the past have remained within them. And all the time this pain is not dealt with, one will continue to perceive life as they did all those years ago.
As this emotional pain is processed, one will also start to develop boundaries and to feel safe. This process can take place with the assistance of a therapist, healer and/or a support group.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.