I’m of the bias that a lot, if not most of what comes out of people’s mouths is part of a nearly all-encompassing attention seeking strategy. I think most of humanity are attention junkies. Personally, I am actively on guard against this habit. Some of us can’t get enough attention, and we’ll take it almost anyway we can get. I see this often when people are quick to jump into any conversation and offer their story of some seemingly relevant experience without taking the time to really give attention. That’s the side of the coin that seems to have been forgotten–that our attention is a gift to others, that it’s valuable, and that we can give it. Of course, sharing stories is part of getting to know each other, but I often see people showing off more than they trying to get to know someone.
I see it often when people give bad news. It really seems that some people often rush to tell someone why they can’t do something, or what bad (or terrible) thing has happened. Drama junkies. It’s as if they gain some sort of social currency for being the bearer of bad news.
Now how does this relate to thinking? Well, I think it starts with the self’s place in the world. I used to read a lot of Carlos Castaneda and he would go on and on (and on and on) about losing self-importance. And while I have my ‘problems’ with Carlos Castaneda, I think this is sound advice and very similar things were said by lots of very effective, influential, successful people.
Now what does this have to do with thinking? Try asking yourself this question before speaking: Is what I have to say relevant to the conversation outside of my own attention seeking?
If yes, then speak.
If no, then remain silent.