The feeling of “I matter” is one of the most important and prevalent issues I address with my clients.
To say it another way, the feeling of “I don’t matter” is at the heart of a great majority of our negative issues as human beings. It’s the generating force behind nearly every relationship conflict, personal or professional.
It’s also often a major factor in difficulties with achieving goals. When we feel that we don’t matter, then whatever goals we might want to reach don’t take precedent when our moments and situations are generated.
“I don’t matter” is a tricky thing to address. We gauge the level at which we matter mainly by how others respond to us and treat us.
So, when I start working with someone on their feeling that they don’t matter, they almost always want to work on mattering to someone else or to other people, in general.
But, as with everything in life, our moments and situations are generated from within. So, any moment in which we feel like we don’t matter is initiated from within our own sense of self, even if it seems like it is being caused by someone else. We feel like we don’t matter, so our brains generate moments in which we get to feel that, over and over and over again. This never excuses someone else’s bad behavior, but we can only work on our own stuff, and you would be surprised by how much someone else’s behavior towards us can change when we change.
You might think that someone else telling us we matter could somehow overcome our feeling that we don’t matter. But, our sense of self—the part of us that stores how we feel about being ourselves—is a closed system. It doesn’t interact with the outside world. It just stores how we feel and generates moments and situations based on those feelings. It’s a one-way street.
No matter how much someone else contradicts our own negative feelings, no matter how strongly or often they do it, their sentiment never makes it into our sense of self. We may feel better momentarily, but the feeling that we don’t matter always floods back in.
So, because this mattering issue has to come from within, I’ve had to help my clients carefully phrase how they tell their brain that they want to feel that they matter. Using the phrase “I matter” by itself usually causes the brain to fill in “to ________.” So, we use phrases like “have what really matters to me,” “express what really matters to me,” and “achieve what really matters to me” to trigger natural well-being to be uncovered and come to the surface.
What’s so great about the changes that come about internally through the personal transformation work I guide people through is that the brain starts generating moments based on this feeling of “I matter.” So, just as someone never worked hard to live out a situation in which they felt like they didn’t matter, the “I matter” situations begin to happen effortlessly.
One client last week had a really dramatic change in this way. She said that for the first time in her life, a man had listened to what she had to say and said that he really cared about doing things in a way that felt good to her.
Have you ever had other people tell you that you matter over and over again, but you just can’t take it in or really believe it? Or, are you someone who continually gets the feedback that you don’t matter from every direction? (Or, maybe you feel like you’re a bit—or a lot—of both.)
I hope you can understand that feeling that you matter is an inside job, and that shifting that feeling for yourself really can make monumental differences in how your life works.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise