Don't be a Show-Off! ...But why?

There’s a show-off in me. He’s about the age of the child in this picture. And right about then, he was smushed by adults who didn’t like him doing that.

Show-off (n.) a person who acts pretentiously or who publicly parades themselves, their possessions, or their accomplishments.

Dang. Think about what matters to a kid or teen. Learning a new skill. Building something they like. Even earning something they value. If they choose to “parade” themselves, they are labelled and shamed.

I’m actually getting angry. (Tap tap tap)

Popular psychology reinforces this…

Why do people show off?
Insecurity. It’s the most common reason behind showiness. A person shows off only when they need to. Only when they think that others don’t consider them important will they try to prove that they’re important.

Do we have a NEED to be seen?
I do. Do you?

On the circle session we had recently, this came up. I said that when someone is being labelled a show-off (and shamed into not being), there are unmet needs.

What angers me is that we’re conflating healthy needs like the need to be seen and the need to matter (be important) with the strategies used to get those needs met.

To share openly… to celebrate… to be seen and delighted in… these are good and healthy human needs.

I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve tapped with who have intense resistance to “being proud” of an accomplishment… so many have carefully avoided accomplishments! Or kept them buried so deep they compost.

Emotional Freedom I assert means that we are aware of and accept our human needs – which for some include more of match for external attention (extroverts anyone?) than others. Rather than shame and suppress (old school!) I imagine a world where we help such beings know the when and where – the we-spaces – that are designed (or can be co-created) to meet those needs.

Most needs when suppressed ooze or squirt out in behaviors that cause issues. I’d like to hope that we’re exploring ways even with our most rambunctious children (and selves) to find ways to experience the nourishment of getting the attention and connection we crave.


P.S. But… Why? Why avoid showing off? There’s a lot of status-warning in the definition of show-off. If we “advertise” our status, there are places and spaces where that is dangerous and can be interpreted as a primal threat that you better be prepared to back up, Alpha Monkey! I get that.

We do need to know whether the We-Space is designed so we can safely and respectfully celebrate who we are and what we have that matters to us. If it isn’t – and many spaces (like every middle school?) are not like that. We have work to do.


I have a goofball who lives inside of me. She likes to dress up for Halloween and she put herself all in blue for the last call on zoom. That made me feel uncomfortable like she was showing off and she needed to stop. So I turned her blue self off. I feel there is a fine line here. As another member said during the discussion, there is a time to be silly and a time not to be. I get that.

Someone else said it was the way we were raised, not to put ourselves out there.

I would like to explore this further.


I’m hoping we’ll all explore this further. One of the reasons I like this community center is that something like this we can revisit just by replying fresh, when it comes up. Love the pic!

Not sure when I stopped wearing costumes happily. Might be worth me investigating. I got dressed up the year I moved to Asheville for an 80’s dance party and was seriously uncomfortable… but exuberant too. Weird memory. Mixed feelings.

On our circle Zoom calls, people are welcome to wear whatever they want (as long as they wear something :wink: if on video).

I think that is one of my questions, to the space-holders of different places. “What is the space for?” I want people to feel free to celebrate, to also be generous with sharing time on screen with others, to both give and get attention when we can and it feels like a YES.

And yet, I know I’ll go to a space and “assume” I have to “tone it down” more than I may have to. Isn’t that being “respectful” and “polite”?

Perhaps those are aspects to explore.

What does it mean to respect a we-space and those who we share it with?

How do we know… or ask… whether we can share some of focus of attention if that’s what we want (or not get attention if we don’t)?



Bingo!! Equating a category with a member of that category (Logical Levels) is a HUGE thinking/perception error problem that creates all kinds of worries and woes in the world. I first came across this distinction during my NLP education in the 1980’s and also in the writing of Gregory Bateson. I’m convinced it’s probably the single most important awareness that people can have in order to avoid unnecessary conflict with others and within ourselves.

Jean, I have an inner goofball as well. I also learned to make myself very small; it was safer not to draw any attention to myself. I even got reprimanded for …. laughing. How about you, if you are comfortable sharing that?

Before COVID, I had just started spending time with a friend and his two little girls (8 & 12, now) and they immediately invited me into their world of stuffies and princesses and games and I was SO happy to be able to play because I’d never been able to do that.


Yes I made myself small too for a number of reasons. My mother was very conscious of status and what would people think. My Grandmother had a lot of status in the little town I grew up in. So my mother kept reminding me I was to be a good girl and not embarrass my grandmother.

The other reason to keep small is to keep “hidden” so the kids at school wouldn’t make fun of my mouth. If I kept small / shut down I hoped I wouldn’t be seen.

What fun to be invited to play with the little girls. Will you still be able to do it after Covid do you think?


Thank you for sharing that, Jean.

Yes, I will definitely be able to do that again. We were just talking about it tonight. I can’t wait!