The Weiler Psi

Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics

Fear of Receiving Attention


lolcat song of the can opener

One of the areas that I have always struggled with is getting attention.  On the one hand I crave it, and on the other hand, I get afraid of it.  This is a fear that I have faced, but it is multi-layered and I am noticing that it is a complicated thing.  It is not as simple as just being afraid of being noticed by people, it is a fear that is triggered by some events, but not by others.

Let me explain:  I have been in Toastmasters for a number of years.  This is a non profit organization that teaches public speaking and leadership.  I have given a lot of speeches over the years and I’m quite comfortable doing it.  I have also appeared in community theater and I’ve made some short films which I acted in.  I like doing that.  Not to mention of course, that I also write this blog where I routinely explore my own emotions.

Clearly, I’m not a wall flower.  Yet when I meditate I find that there is still a deep fear there of receiving attention.  I notice that I flinch a bit when I receive praise.  When I ask myself where this comes from, I’m fairly certain that this has to do with the high level of sensitivity that comes from being psychic.

We all have pictures in our minds of how wonderful it is to be the center of attention, but this is a far cry from how we normally act when this actually occurs.  For most people, this is an unusual occurrence and therefore tends to put their minds on overload.  I’ve seen people’s faces turn bright red, watched them get very stiff or go into an aw shucks routine and then retreat to someplace else without looking anyone in the eye.

The fact is that for highly sensitive people, becoming the center of attention often carries unwanted associations.  As children, most of us were rarely the center of attention except when we did something wrong, in which case, the attention was of the type we feared the most:  being yelled at and/or scolded.  Because we assumed guilt and shame so easily as kids, these incidents got hardwired into our brains.  In this case, attention becomes something to be actively feared.

Now the interesting part is that this doesn’t apply in all cases.  The belief systems behind getting attention aren’t consistent in all cases.  For example.  I can take a deep breath and give a speech to 200 people more easily than I can tell a story in front of five people and have them all stare at me with undivided attention.  These two situations don’t feel the same.  I can get up on stage and act out a part more easily than I can accept more than a couple of people giving me praise for something.

So this difficulty in receiving attention is not an all or nothing affair.  There are shades of gray.  I get the impression that it has to do with how personal the attention feels.  Acting and giving speeches allows a bit of distance and there is something else to concentrate on.  I know that personally I can diminish my fear simply by focusing entirely on the task at hand.  But it is triggered if it is too personal.  I think that when a few people are giving me their full attention and I have to give it back, that it is harder to switch off the fear-of-attention mode.  Immediacy makes  a difference.

The real challenge comes when highly creative people (that would be us psychic types) need to have attention upon ourselves in order to be successful in our creativity.

This puts us in the uncomfortable position of both needing and dreading attention at the same time.  This is a recipe for neurotic behavior, which can often be observed in psychic people.  I can’t help but wonder if this is somehow tied to our efficiency, (or lack thereof) in using psychic ability.  If we have an unconscious fear of attention, then dampening our psychic ability would certainly be part of this because when it is spot on it attracts a great deal of attention.

And this might have something to do with the depression that psychic people often experience.  Both needing and fearing attention can be very debilitating.  I just have to wonder how much this has to do with our psychological make up.

Examining this fear of attention brings up these issues and more.  I think that it is an area that deserves our attention.  What I’ve written here is only a start.  I’ve written this as much to try and give myself more perspective as to share it.  I promise to return to this subject if I can get some more perspective on it.  Right now, I feel as if it is too close.

10 comments on “Fear of Receiving Attention

  1. Lady Bitz
    February 17, 2019

    When I read this, first got ill then I bawled. You have just described the root of what I have been feeling and have been unable to communicate ever.

    Thank you for that!


  2. Lin
    July 9, 2018

    Totally agree, I’d like to keep people in a comfortable distance. And if they’ve crossed the line and get too personal with their attention I feel violated.

  3. Anonymous
    March 12, 2017

    I’m new to your blog, this is your only article I red and I’m highly related to that.
    Thank you for explaining it so in detail.

  4. jarrel karl
    October 3, 2016

    I feel the same. I’m 20 and I think its because of the pressure. I overestimate the pressure I feel to meet the expectations of those giving me attention and respect when i show a commanding presence. Now I’m trying to minimize this pressure and handle it.

  5. Zara Jones
    July 3, 2013

    I have been wrestling with this for weeks/months/years. I found your article upon trying to gain some insight into overcoming this fear in order to advance my career.

  6. amandatietavainen
    September 25, 2012

    I very much relate to what you say here. As a child I’d run from the eyes of strange people and hide behind my parent’s legs because I’d feel ‘intruded’ by their gaze. As a teen, I hated having to speak up in class and would blush horribly; not from the feeling of being shy, but from the feeling of having so much attention focused upon me, which would often feel like a laser-beam swiping into my solar plexus. I forced myself to study drama to get over these feelings, and while being on stage was definitely more manageable, I could never quite understand why anyone would really want that spotlight, so decided it wasn’t for me. (Even though I excelled at it and received a lot of praise, which also made me uncomfortable in the way that you describe, Craig.) As an adult, I’ve noticed that I can feel the intention behind a gaze and would sometimes react badly to being looked at by people in the street; which led me to read the book by Rupert Shedrake, called “The Sense of Being Stared At.” If you havent read it, I would highly recommend it. He has investigated these feelings we have experienced with research from all over the globe, and has deduced that (as we know) consciousness is non-local, and that vision extends from the eyes in a two-way beam of energy – which sensitives can, of course, sense and feel – and which is the reason why other cultures use amulets against ‘mal ojo’ or the evil eye – because the energy reaching out to us, can really affect us, and in some cases, can make a person sick.

    Wonderful blog, Craig! This is my first post but I’ve been lurking here for a while, and am very much enjoying your writing, and the fact that there is a resource like this, to discuss these matters without people thinking I’m potty..

    Like you, I’m an advocate of the ‘feeling-seers’ (as one of my teachers once called me) and I’m very grateful to the power of the internet for bringing us into contact with each other; as the sense of isolation can be quite fierce! (And I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a family where psychic ability is openly accepted, in a liberal town.)

    Thanks for all you do!


  7. Evalyn
    August 16, 2012

    I’m struggling with the exact same thing! I do a lot of plays, and I fond it really easy, mostly cause the bright spotlights block everyone out (I still do get a liiiiiiittle tense…) but if I’m at school reading off a paper or answering something, and everyone stares at me, I get really anxious, not the usual symptoms of panic disorder or anything just a feeling of being really uncomfortable, you know? I guess it just stems from a fear that ill do something horribly wrong and everyone will taunt me for it. It’s happened before, and even just typing it, I get kind of uncomfortable. I’m not good with giant crowds, I’m introverted, so I don’t like being in public for long, especially in crowds. I can talk to people, but when it gets all quiet and everyone gives me their full attention, that’s when I start saying “nevermind” and “nothing” or something like that. Like I said though, its not symptoms of panic disorder, and I highly doubt it is.

  8. Lessa
    January 8, 2010

    I think I am experiencing the same thing. When I get excited or feel put on the spot I sometimes get these blotches of redness on my chest and face. Perhaps I am learning to aaccept it because it very rarely stops me from interaacting with people anymore but at times I feel embarassed which just makes the redness worse. It is kind of like you said I want to get the attention but I dont at the same time. I am trying to open my own business of holistic healing where I will constantly be on the spot and feel this is my calling so to speak but what a strange contridiction to feel akward and embarassed when speaking to people on the spot. It feels like there is energy that does not have a smooth way of being released and is all constricted by my body and it just wants to burst out of me from every pore. Do you have any advice?

    • craigweiler
      January 8, 2010

      Congratulations on starting a holistic healing business! I hope you do extremely well. Healing is a subject very near and dear to my heart. And yes, I do have advice. First though, let me point out that you are already doing part of what I would advise you to do. You are putting yourself out there and giving it a shot and not letting your fear stop you. You have half the battle won right there; you know what you’re afraid of.

      I have yet to find a smooth way to release fear and I’ve been focused on this for about 30 years. My experience is that first I discover that I have a fear, then I meditate and bring the fear up when I’m in a quiet space, usually sitting on my bed in the early morning and hang with it for awhile so that I can get a feel for how I’m reacting to it. Then I have a variety of things that I do depending on what seems to be working that day. One method is to feel the fear while holding your index finger in front of your face about a foot away and move it from side to side tracking it with your eyes. This is a method psychologists use and it short circuits the fear somehow. it’s also pretty uncomfortable, but it works.

      I also make it a point to tell myself a positive message about the fear while I am feeling it. My favorite method of late is to transfer my fear to a couple of rocks I hold in my hands. If you are not connected to your fear while you are doing these things, nothing will happen.

      What these things do is make the fear pass a little faster than it otherwise would. It’s not a magic bullet. If you did none of these things you would get through these fears anyway just by what you’re doing.

      You can also join the non profit organization Toastmasters and learn public speaking.

  9. Mari
    November 16, 2009

    Holy Cow!! You nailed it. I’ve been struggling with this exact same thought in recent weeks. I feel compelled to let go and immerse myself in my psi abilities and when I wonder why I hold back inevitably it comes back to my ambivalence about receiving attention. ” I want, I want, wait..NO I don’t want, I don’t want…wait…..I don’t know, I don’t know!….”

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