April 27, 2012

"She needs an audience to feel complete"

As I was browsing through one of my favorite jewlerly stores in Oak Bay (Victoria), I stumbled across a necklace pendant that had "She needs an audience to feel complete" on it. It spoke to me. I had to have it. Needless to say, I really identified with this statement. Not too soon after I was speaking in front of 100 people proudly wearing my new necklace and reaping the emotional benefits of all eyes and attention on me.
I know my love of attention is borderline pathological. I know I am letting my ego drive my behaviour (and career). I also know, I took the wrong path in life and should have been a showgirl on stage somewhere...maybe next time.

Give me a stage, a mic., and a spotlight
and I'm all set.  Is this bad?
No wonder I became a fitness leader. I can't think of a better way to spend the time than jumping up and down, yelling at the top of my lungs while wearing spandex in front of a large group of exercisers.  I loved it so much I find myself missing it like one would miss their dominant arm if it fell off. I'm lucky that my job allows me to indulge myself and stand up in front of large crowds; talking about my favorite subject...health. I feed off the energy and find the larger the audience the better my performance. So does this make me a "drama queen"? God I hope not...but I'm sure those who know me would be nodding their heads in agreement. Is that bad? Did I not get enough attention as a child?

Lately, I have been interested in learning more about what drives my own behaviour. A very good friend suggested I check out Eckart Tolle's "A New Earth". Although I tried to get through this book years ago, I thought I would give it another try. I"m so glad I did. I have already become more aware of how much my ego drives my behaviour (I guess I just wasn't ready back then). With this new awareness, I am finding my relationship with others is more peaceful than before.

Although I feel like I'm the last one on this earth to read "The New Earth", I thought it was interesting enough to blog about. Our egos can certainly cause a lot of drama and stress in our lives through searching for external validation (not that I know anything about that) or paying for things that make us feel superior to others. If we were to shrug the ego and understand our true selves more, would we continue our search for praise, fortune, and even fame?

At least now I am able to share the spotlight (albeit I'm in the middle but I am making progress).

After reflecting on my own motivations behind public speaking, I understand my passion for sharing information overrides my desire for a big audience (although I don't see why I can't have both). I also understand that my frustrations with "snake oil salespeople" may be underlined with the desire to be right. As much as I hate to admit, my love for debate and critical analysis may be driven by my need to be right....God I hope not. Although I don't like watching people take advantage of those searching for the next weight loss cure...who am I to tell them otherwise?

The one thing that has truly made a difference in my perceptions of and reactions to others is the understanding that we all, as human beings, want to be validated for our thoughts, words, and deeds. We are all driven, in some way by our egos. We all need to feel accepted and respected. This really comes in handy when I'm talking to those who consistently interrupt or talk of nothing but themselves (and I have to say...I have met a lot of them). I am trying to be more forgiving while I remind myself of their underlying desires to look good for me and themselves.  In fact, those people who take over the conversation without interest in anyone else offer us the opportunities to practice these skills. Those that take the credit, hog the spotlight, or talk for hours straight about themselves, without thought for others, should be thanked (no...I'm not on crack).

Since I have been exposed to more and more of these people, I am now able to step outside the spotlight without feeling resentful or angry (so far so good). I can spend the entire dinner listening intently to story after story without wondering when I get my turn to speak. I can also (and this is a biggie) listen to someone with differing opinions without the urge to contradict or argue (I know I'm right and that's all the matters.....he he....kidding...sort of).  I have become more introspective and less in your face because of these people. I have worked on being present and humble; trying to find the lessons I'm learning through the people I meet. Above all, I have learned that I (along with everyone else) do not have the answers. No one has the answers. No one is an expert. We all do the best we can with the information we have.

...of course sometimes this all backfires and I revert to my old raves and rants because no one is paying attention to me (but those episodes are fewer and far between). I want to be more of a giving person, than someone who takes. I want to be a good listener. I want to be able to attend to people's underlying needs better without fighting for the limelight.  Could it be I'm growing up? Naaaaaaaaaah.

Seriously...I'm that good!

No matter what, I will always crave a room packed with people, a stage, and a microphone (and if you ever need a very funny and entertaining speaker on health and wellness...you got my number).