Halloween tends to bring out the goofy and funny in us. But it also could bring out the worst in us. If you are not sure what I mean, go no further than the recent news about folks dressing up and reenacting recent highly publicized and controversial crimes. I won’t mention the specifics so that I don’t add to the visibility and attention that they are desperately craving.
But the point remains. Halloween is here and somehow our own skeletons (in this case, our need for attention) tend to come out and demand — I mean, command — the spotlight. It is around this time of the year when we consciously or unconsciously become “hustlers” for attention.
How does this need manifest during Halloween? Using some of Brené Brown’s work from The Gifts of Imperfection, here are four ways our inner skeletons tend to appear during Halloween.
Perform — By wearing the coolest (and by coolest I mean, most outrageous, sexiest, you fill in the blank here) costume you can think of. Or buying the (insert a superlative here) costume for your children. It is the same thing.
Perfect — By acting the part of the super-organized adult, who ordered candy, costumes and everything else ahead of time. Every room in the house is as scary as it needs to be right out of the Stepford family playbook. This was I several years ago. I had to have the right candy and the right lighting outside the house. No longer.
Please — By wearing a costume that is popular, that you know will be wildly well received. For example, I was toying with the idea of dressing up as a bearded Red Sox fan. It would be sure hit since I live in Boston. I am still considering it. What the heck. I am a recovering people pleaser. Cut me some slack!
Prove — By coming up with an elaborate disguise or decoration we have tangible proof that we, in fact, are worth of attention and validation.
Each one of these examples, could go through each one of the four P’s mentioned. So people pleasers could behave (or perform) in a certain way to the point of perfection just to prove they can please everyone.
There is nothing wrong with seeking attention and approval. After all, we are conditioned to be attention seekers since infancy. And we are communal beings who thrive through connectedness on rely on others, right?
As tech-savvy and ingenious adults we have found many ways to extend this need for attention — and ultimately validation — through social media. How many of our posts in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest are sending this subliminal message saying, “Hey, look at me, aren’t I cool, smart, lucky, etc.? Like it if you agree and so that I feel validated.” How many times do we stop what we are doing to look at our latest Facebook status?
So, how do we tame these skeletons? It is all about the beliefs that drive intention behind the action.
In the example of the bearded Red Sox fan, do I want the costume because it will elicit compliments and positive, approving remarks or am I doing it for my own fun to join in the spirit of the moment? Am I soliciting nods of approval because I am feeling unappreciated or am I looking to wear the costume for the sheer joy of the experience?
Hope this helps you tame your skeletons this Halloween. I have to run, though. I just thought of an even cooler Halloween costume: Big Papi, David Ortíz. Need to go buy a No. 34 Red Sox shirt.
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