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Why people need too much attention and what do I do to manage them?

Updated on September 13, 2013

Or rather how to handle your reaction to them.

Hi everyone, my name is Nancy and I'm a needy co-dependant.

It's true, it's true, once upon a time I was one of 'those' people, that monopolized the conversation, fumed if everyone didn't say 'Hi' to me at a gathering and couldn't figure out why people avoided me since I was so special and totally willing to tell you about it. But at the same time I was humble in my specialness, you couldn't give me a compliment that I would accept but I had to have all of your attention.

But I'm feeling much better now. What happened? I finally got some self-confidence.

All those years of trying to get people notice me, to listen to me, to like me was to validate that I was worthy of notice, that I had something that other people wanted/needed. Because I had no confidence in myself or my abilities. Years of training at the hands of my family and the public school education system beat it into my head that I didn't have anything special, that I was stupid and the only reason anyone would pay attention to me was if they needed to use me for something. To volunteer, to work an extra shift, to do the dirty work while someone else was the social butterfly. And I bought into it, that's all that I knew so I figured that's the way it always worked. But if I was a good girl and did what people asked and just kept taking it then sooner or later it was going to be my turn.

Finally I figured out that it doesn't work that way. Several years back I started reading psychology books and working with the power of the sub-conscious mind to change the programming that had been forced on me. Took quite a bit of time and there were months when I'd take one step forward, two steps back. But it was worth it, once I figured out that the only opinion I really need to care about is my own and was able to integrate that, then my life started changing. One of the things that changed is I got fired from my job. Why? Because I was crocheting a charity blanket in an auditorium meeting. The execs considered this a sign of not being interested in the future of the company. I believe it was a danger signal that they now had a self-confident individual working for them instead of the scared automaton that I'd been for the previous 16 years and they wanted rid of me before it started spreading.

It's been a wild, scary ride since then but it's OK. Now that I have the self-confidence to know I can rely upon myself and I will succeed no matter what, it's more an adventure than a disaster that I was liberated from corporate America. My mother is still scared to death that I don't have a real job and it's a constant struggle not to allow her to talk me back into the old patterns that I fought free of.

So, if you're interacting with someone that constantly seeks attention and it's possible that it's a lack of self-confidence that is the basis of it, here's some pointers from when I was in that spot.

  • Encourage them when they do something right. They've been told so often how they've messed up that even a small amount of praise can work wonders.
  • If they do mess up, it can be pointed out to them without being derogatory.
  • Do NOT repeat your praise to them. If you pay a compliment and the needy person pooh-poohs it, just drop that part of the conversation, do not repeat what you said. They are looking to you to validate them, that will not work, it will only escalate on you.
  • Do NOT ignore social blunders. If a needy person lashes out at you for no reason, call them on it. Let them know if that's the way they're going to treat people, people won't hang around.
  • Repeat the Henry Ford quote to them "If you think you can or you think you can't, either way you are right."
  • Encourage them to read self-help books, watch movies such as 'The Secret' or listen to subliminal CDs to help change their programming.
  • Do NOT directly tell them - 'This is what your problem is....' they won't believe you. Well, that's not true, on some level they'll believe you but they won't have the self-confidence to work with it. The result? They'll wind up resenting you for telling them the truth when they weren't brave enough to address it.

Remember that while you may need to interact with these people through your family or your job or other social interactions, it is still not your responsibility to give these people warm fuzzies. Doing so will only encourage them to ask for more from you and it can be a full time job if you get sucked into it. Take it from someone that's still in recovery, you'll be doing them a bigger favor if you don't buy into the game that they are playing.

Just as you take responsibility for yourself and your actions so do they need to take responsibility for themselves. When they are able to validate themselves then they will not need to have it from someone else.


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    • profile image

      tori 3 years ago

      What books do you recommend? Any titles in particular??

    • profile image

      Nicholas 5 years ago

      Yea, I agree. I am totally like that. I make excuses on everything and try to make sure everything is done correctly but I do not allow myself anything to get me to make sure everything to do that. Even so one person told me I try too hard. I agree and I need to stop that and move on.

    • profile image

      katrina paco 6 years ago

      i really appreciated this site because it really helps me to become a better person now.. i can count myself as one of those special children that God gave creation so i can feel the hardness that they are experiencing in dealing with the people around..

    • Nancy B. profile image

      Nancy B. 6 years ago from Kansas City, MO

      Oohh, Cindy, you got it right when you said 'Just like any problem you have to admit that you have a problem before you can help yourself.' Until your daughter-in-law realizes the situation you will not be able to communicate with her. When I was caught up in co-dependency anytime someone spoke to me about it, my reaction was that they didn't know what they were talking about. I was blinded by my own issues.

      OK, I'm just an individual not a psychologist or a doctor and I don't really know the entire situation that you're dealing with. If there's someone close to you, someone at church or a social club that you both belong to that can help then call on them. These personnel can have counseling training and can help much more than an Internet reply.

      Getting her a book would probably make it worse and she could consider it 'meddling'. Sometimes you just have to keep your head down and endure.

      I hope you all find a satisfactory level in the family relationships that you're looking for.

    • profile image

      Cindy 6 years ago

      This was great, but how do you approach someone that they have low or no self-confidence, I love my Daughter In Law to death, but if I am giving my Son or Grandson's attention, she is not happy and it causes problems. I do give her attention just as much, but it seems like it NEVER ENOUGH. Just like any problem you have to admit that you have a problem before you can help yourself. This Young Lady does not wrong according to her. And now since she has had a child it has really got out of hand. My Son does give her the attention that she needs, but when my 7 year old grandson goes to visit (one week-end every two weeks) She gets upset if he goes in the room to play with his son and not be in there with her. My son works, she doesn't, but he gets up with the baby several times a night every night. He cleans the houes, does the laundry, and maintance the automobile, and the yard. just to mention a few. She always says she is tired and wants to lay down. The baby is now 5 months old, and she can not stand for anyone to give him attention, if the baby is laughing and cooing while I am holding him, she will come and get him from me and try to get him to laugh and coo. HELP! I would love to buy a book but how would I give it to her without making it worse?

    • Nancy B. profile image

      Nancy B. 7 years ago from Kansas City, MO

      You're welcome. People that are in the middle of the situation can't really see what's going on. Now when I look back I cringe at some of the stuff I did. But at the time I couldn't see it. Blessings.

    • schoolgirlforreal profile image

      schoolgirlforreal 7 years ago

      A hub on codependency..

      This is really well done and useful! Thanks a lot :)

    • profile image

      Peter atta gyamfi 8 years ago

      Great,that's for me. God bless you,

      Good hub

    • profile image

      cj 8 years ago

      Thanks so much for sharing this. I think I've been trained in some ways through family, and it wasn't until the last year that I've been breaking out of this cycle. Great points for the ones who realize and understand, so we can support others.

    • profile image

      Joy 8 years ago

      I enjoyed reading this immensely.Its my story!

    • louisebannerman profile image

      louisebannerman 9 years ago from Detroit,MI

      Great hub! You're right on point with the tips on helping them to reprogram. After being torned down and called so many bad names, I had to learn how to build my self-confidence at an early age. Reading self-help books was a plus.

      Now on the flip side I keep attracting NEEDY people. It's just came to me why. I allow them to co-depend on me. I want to be their everything. I love on them so hard, that I actually run some people away. But for the most part I can't get rid of them easily, but I do manage. I'm always saying, "I must have a sign on my back or something." But in reality I'm needy for recognition, attention, and being on top. This is something I'm still working on.

      Reading my Bible helped me to validate myself. I got to the point it didn't matter what people said or thought about me. I started believing what the Word said about me. I'm the head and not the tail. Never again will I not believe in myself.

    • Decrescendo profile image

      Decrescendo 9 years ago

      Thanks for the tip about this health issue. Really Appreciate it.

    • profile image

      regicho 9 years ago

      Thanks so much Nancy B for the insightful and wise advice. You have another 'Thumbs up' from me . Thanks also for your personal sharing.

    • Nancy B. profile image

      Nancy B. 9 years ago from Kansas City, MO

      Thanks for the 'Thumbs up' gals.

      It's definitely in big business interests to breed people insecure...that gives them a willing workforce that will take a lot of nonsense for little recognition or reward. Once people start demanding respect and to be treated decently the whole system starts to fail.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 9 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Great instructions for setting appropriate boundaries--clearly and simply explained. Good job and congratulations--you really make good sense. Another thumbs up from me.

    • Inspirepub profile image

      Inspirepub 9 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      *thumbs up*

      And people like this are everywhere! We breed 'em insecure in our culture.

      Well done, great Hub.