You embrace some form saying, “I am this.”
By God, you are not this or that or the other.
You are “Unique One,” “Heart-ravishing.”
I have the privilege of helping people discover this about themselves every day.
It can be a challenge—so often, our uniqueness is hidden from us. Your wants, your needs, what really matters to you—these things are the key to uncovering your uniqueness. When I ask my clients what it would feel like to have what matters to them, here are the typical responses that I get:
- 1. That sounds very selfish, Sara!
- 2. I don’t even know what matters to me.
- 3. If I have what I want, it will take something away from someone else.
- 4. I usually get what I want, but others are always telling me it’s at their expense, so it rarely feels good.
Here’s my response to all of those objections: You have a unique place and voice in the world. You could think of it as an electrical outlet and you are a lamp. When you are plugged in, there is more light for everyone.
How could you be taking something away from anyone else when this place and voice is yours alone? And how could it be selfish to shed more light in the world?
If you don’t know what matters to you or feel unsafe in having it, there’s a good reason—it all comes back to survival. Early in life, we all take on the feeling of “I don’t matter” in some form and store it in our sense of self, which is the generating force behind every moment of our lives. Then, of course, as we get older, we keep having situations where we feel like “I don’t matter.”
To survive with this awful feeling, we either bury it as deeply as we can so we don’t feel it, or we “take over” in situations with others to get what we need, even if we feel that it is at the expense of others (and they tell us that it is!). Either way, it feels less safe all the time to have what matters to us—and therefore, express our uniqueness.
Here’s how things typically unfold when I start to work on this very common issue with my clients.
First, I start helping them feel safe to first know what they want or what matters to them, and then feel safe in having it.
They work on feeling safe expressing their uniqueness.
Then, we branch that out to knowing that everyone benefits when they express their unique voice. As this shift takes place, amazing things start to happen.
People around them start to inquire about my clients’ opinions, what they would like to do in some situation—or even sometimes, people around them just start doing something that shows clients that they really do matter.
I was just talking with someone today who has been working a lot on “I don’t matter.” He just got a raise out of the blue and was told that he was the only person who got one, and that he was doing really good work. Just two weeks ago, this client told me that he was thinking about leaving his job, because he felt so undervalued by this same boss who has now given him a raise. (He had not said or done anything at work to elicit this change.) That is the real magic that I get to witness a lot—namely, that it is how we feel that generates our situations, not what we do.
Do you know what really matters to you? Do you feel safe having it and expressing it in the world?
Or does it feel safer to, as Rumi says, “Embrace some form and say, ‘I am this'”? I’d love to hear about your experience—please comment below.
Editor: Hayley Samuelson.