We all have an innate need to feel heard. Every person, big or small, young or old, smart or not-so-smart wants, needs even, to be heard. And we all go through great lengths to make this happen. Babies (and sometimes adults) scream. Children (and sometimes adults) throw tantrums. Teenagers (and sometimes adults) name call and then pout and ignore, also known as the silent treatment. Although seemingly very different, these are all just attempts to be noticed, to be listened to, and to feel heard.
Clearly we are born with some of these coping strategies (e.g. screaming) and some of the coping strategies (e.g. silent treatment) are behaviors we develop over time in an attempt to get our needs met. When these strategies are first used, they tend to work and to be effective. So we keep using them, over and over and over. And when these are things we do from the time we are little, they are a very easy go-to in times of stress and/or anxiety. However, there comes a point when we are adults and we have the ability to pick and choose what strategies actually work for us and honor us. The problem is that many people don’t realize that a) they have a choice and b) that making a different choice might not only make them feel better but might also work better. Sure, a tantrum at 25-years-old will likely look different than one at 5-years old, but the mechanics are the same…”I’m going to kick and scream until I get my way.” When we are little, this often works because parents are tired, stressed, embarrassed, etc. When we are big, this often works because people are tired, stressed, embarrassed, etc. However, is using a tantrum as a means to an end the most efficient way to get the most effective result? Does it honor the idea of the “common good?” Or is it just a selfish form of manipulation to get what you want?
Now, I’m a believer that everyone’s voice has a right to be heard. I’m also a believer that sometimes people feel like they need to roar (or act) like a lion to get the attention they want and/or need. But I also believe that as we continue to learn and grow, hopefully our methods of attention-seeking change and the tantrum is no longer the tactic used. My hope is that people learn enough about themselves and who they are that they will then be able to surround themselves with people (aka their tribe) that will not only honor and embrace this but will also help this fellow tribe-member actualize the person the strive to be. Because when that happens, hopefully you won’t need to roar like a lion to be heard and to feel loved. The tribe will hear you loud and clear even in moments of silence.