Attention: Why Do Some People Avoid Attention?

Dr. Purushothaman
October 2, 2013

There is wide spread exposure when it comes to people who are attention seekers and these people can be labelled as having certain unhealthy narcissistic traits. One can come into contact with people who are like this in their local area and as well as in the mainstream media.

It is only human to want attention and while there is nothing unhealthy or dysfunctional about this need, some people are operating from the other extreme. They constantly need it and are only happy when they are getting it.

However, while this is something that stands out and is easy to spot, there is another type of behaviour that is not as visible. And it is probably because this way of acting goes under the radar and doesn’t cause as many problems.

Here, one doesn’t seek attention from others, they actively avoid it. Each moment is then not a chance to be seen, it is a chance to remain unseen and to even hide. There is naturally going to be different degree to this type of behaviour and this means there will be different consequences as a result.

The Distraction

As attention seekers are usually the focus of people’s attention, people who are the opposite of this can easily be forgotten. Just because human beings have the need for attention, it doesn’t mean that one feels comfortable receiving attention.

There will be some people who are more comfortable than others. It might also be easy to assume that these people are that way because of how they look or because they are more skilled or competent than others.

The people who are attention seekers are not always defined as being worthy of the amount of attention they receive or that they have earned it. And the ones who avoid attention can be extremely competent, attractive and deserve to receive attention for what they do.

So the amount of attention that someone receives is not always in alignment with what they have contributed to the world; it is typically based on how comfortable they feel with attention.

Areas Of Life

To receive attention in ones primary relationships will be important for ones wellbeing. This can be from: family, friends and ones partner for instance. In many ways, this will be the foundation and where the main source of attention will come from.

And as an extension of this will be the attention that one gets in their career and through what they contribute to the people around them and to the world in general. This can go onto include what one does for their local community and charity work for instance.

The Block

Although this is essential to ones wellbeing, if one is uncomfortable with attention; they might not be able to accept and receive what they truly need. So while the need is there and won’t just go away, it will be denied and end up going unmet.

A Real Challenge

This is not to say that someone’s life will be completely void of attention; for some people this may only apply to certain areas of their life.

When it comes to one’s personal relationships with their family, friends and partner, they could feel comfortable with attention. And yet their career could be an area where they don’t feel comfortable with attention and therefore can’t accept the recognition that they deserve.

Or one could feel completely comfortable with experiencing recognition and praise in their career and not have the same experience when it comes to their personal relationships. In this example, one might not feel comfortable with receiving attention from the opposite sex.

And then there will be people who don’t feel comfortable with attention in general and there whole life will be a real challenge.


As attention is a natural need and something each one of us needs and wants, it can seem strange that someone would avoid it. For some, constant attention is not enough and for this person, attention in general can be too much.

And the reason this person avoids attention completely or in certain areas of their life, is due to the meaning they have. This is unlikely to be a meaning that is supportive or empowering.


So as their meaning is not positive, it can cause them to think of attention as something they don’t deserve and are unworthy of at an intellectual level. And at a deeper level, it could be due to feeling that they will be: overwhelmed, trapped, attacked, smothered, humiliated, rejected and abandoned if they do receive attention.

This is because intellectually one can come to the conclusion that they are a victim and that someone or something is against them, but at a deeper level there is often a benefit to what is taking place.

These deeper feelings that one has are what is causing one to sabotage attention in their life. One is therefore avoiding attention as a way to protect themselves and to stay safe.

Ego mind

At some point in this person’s life, their ego mind formed the association that receiving attention is unsafe. This is then what feels familiar and comfortable.

Although this association is causing one to suffer now, it was created for a reason. And when it was created, it would have kept one alive. It can be blamed now for causing problems, but it was a matter of survival at one point.

Possible Causes

This can be the result of what has happened to someone in their adult years and what took place when they were a child and a baby. Perhaps one had a caregiver that was emotionally unaware and abusive.

So when one did get attention, it was typically due to them being harmed in some way and not because they were being accepted and appreciated for who they were. Ones might have had a caregiver that wanted the attention to always be focused on them and so one had to go without.

It could be due to ones caregivers being highly critical and the only way to avoid this criticism was to remain unnoticed as much as one could. Attention then became something that feels intrusive and overwhelming and not something to be embraced.


When one lets go off their emotional past that remains trapped within them, they will be able to embrace a healthy level of attention. So they will not longer have to avoid it and they won’t need to constantly seek it either.

This can be done with the assistance of a therapist or a healer who will allow one to face their trapped feelings and emotions and gradually release them.


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