Humans are social beings; we are designed for community and meaningful connection with each other. We need to be noticed, listened to, cared for, and touched. We each need different amounts of attention at different points in our lives. The amount of attention we need varies even on a daily basis. When we get the attention we need, we are simply satisfied. But when we don’t, we are often not even aware of what is missing to cause the upset in our lives.
None of us are able to be fully objective regarding our own behavior. But if we could be, I am willing to wager that a lot of our behavior is subconsciously designed to attract some much-needed attention. I know this idea conjures up a negative stigma; the phrase that so & so “just wants attention” is belittling to that person. However, if we really examine the truth about human nature, we have to admit that all of us want (and need) attention.
let’s begin with the premise that it’s OK to want attention because it is. It is against the law to
neglect someone; we understand the human need for attention in terms of
extremes. But receiving attention on a daily basis is a basic human need. It is
as essential as sleep, breath, food, and water.
Even though it is not possible to be objective about my own behavior, I am trying to be objective regarding Momma’s behavior, especially in terms of this basic human need for attention. Momma is under my care; I am the one responsible for her well-being and her quality of life. I am the primary source of the attention she receives and I know that depending on the kind and quality of that attention, Momma reacts, and the quality of her day is affected.
that I am working full time outside of the home, the attention I am able to
give Momma has suffered considerably. Even when I am home, my mind is swarming
with stresses and pressures from work and I often have left-over work
responsibilities that I have to tend to at home. It seems that all the demands
on me have bottle-necked into my every day existence. As a result, I am
clipping through all the things that need to be done in a desperate attempt to
do them all.
I gave Momma some attention: check. What’s next on the list?
It seems Momma is displaying more irritating behavior these days which brings me to a screeching halt requiring that I reevaluate the things on my list and my concept of checking them off.
Caregivers often forget to take care of themselves. As the theory goes however, we can’t be good caregivers unless we also take care of ourselves. Is this some kind of a cruel catch 22? No, it really isn’t. There is a beautiful, ironic gift in this theory. You see, in order to give Momma the kind of focused attention she needs, I have to slow my pace, sit down, breathe steadily, soften my speech. All these things serve to nurture my own soul as well – these are the kinds of attention that I need! Giving her attention actually allows me to give attention to myself. A few minutes of quality attention given renders peace all around me. This means that when I then turn my focus to the tasks of work, I can better concentrate and therefore, use my time more effectively.
This sounds simple enough, but of course, it isn’t. it requires a clear understanding of my priorities, constant reevaluation and adjustment, and a daily renewal of my commitment.
Life is a cycle of renewals. What a gift! With the rising sun each morning we have the opportunity to accept this gift of renewal. Renewal is generated by attention; we are never finished giving or receiving attention (so we can’t really just check it off a list, can we?).
Let me greet this new day with the promise of gentle, quiet, peaceful time with Momma, anticipating the regenerative nature that giving such attention has to offer.