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You Can't Not Matter

You is Kind, You is Smart, You is Important - Abilene to Mae Mobley from the movie "The Help"

I matter. How can I not matter?

I am part of nature.

Every moment of every day, my lungs breathe just as trees function as the lungs of the earth.

My heart pumps and circulates, just as the ocean is always moving.

The weather of my emotions are akin to the weather on our planet, sometimes sunny, sometimes no sun in sight.

I am aging, and there is a part of me forever renewing as well as a part that has been watching the whole human show.

All the while, when I was about five years old my brain came up with the idea that I didn’t matter. When dad and mom were so irritated with each other, an enthusiastic and inquisitive kid was more of an annoyance than a pleasure. In an attempt to cope with the pain of disconnection, my brain offered up, “you don’t matter”. You’re not important. Everyone matters more than you.”

Somehow not mattering made a scary and painful homelife more manageable. I knew my place.

“You don’t matter!” became a rallying call to try to matter. The pain from the constant self-dismissiveness was the spur to achieve recognition, attractiveness, and security. The attempt to soothe the ache was more attractive than the satisfaction of actually achieving something. I wanted how I thought it would make me feel.

My sweet brain thought that married, skinny, college-educated, managerial people didn’t feel pain the way I did. So this same sweet brain offered one get-out-of-pain scheme after another. My brain didn’t see herself as part of nature, she saw herself as separate and unique.

When that didn’t prove to be a sustainable answer, the same sweet brain suggested I eat a lot of sugar, drink a lot of alcohol, spend a lot of money. You know, anything external that would get in there and obliterate the pain quickly.

After the indulgences, my brain turned into a judgmental tyrant, horrified by the behavior it suggested when the pain felt too much.

This deepened the “You don’t matter” mantra for sure. All these innocent attempts to manage the pain from the trance of insignificance.

All the while, I was ok. I was alive. Just like our precious planet, lungs breathing, heart pumping, and innocently misidentifying the clouds of my “I don’t matter” thoughts as me.

With a willingness to be curious about my experience and a desire to be free from years of habitual self-dismissiveness, I’ve come to see is that I can’t not matter. We can’t not matter.

We come from the same creator that designed this beautiful planet, that created slithering snakes and flying birds. Beautiful sunsets and torrential hurricanes. How could I be the one unique thing, the one piece of the puzzle that doesn’t fit? Other than my brain offering this conclusion, there is no evidence. Everyone of us matters. There is nothing that we can achieve or lose that will change this. There is nothing we can accomplish that will make us matter more than we do right this moment.

Rather than getting lost in the maze of my I don’t matter habit, I learned to recognize it for what it is: an old coping mechanism that is no longer helpful or needed. And of course my brain still offers a myriad of ways to matter. It is still doing it’s job as nature intended.

When we are participating in things for the joy of the journey and our expansion, rather than the prestige we think it will provide, we get to deeply be in the moment and immerse ourselves in life. Relationships are a source of deep connection rather than proof that I matter enough to have friends and/or a spouse. Learning new things can feel adventurous without the pressure of how you will be of more importance after you accomplish them.

We can lighten up a bit because we’re not trying to prove to our never satisfied brains that we are a person of value.

I believe this is the freedom many of us are seeking. The freedom to be who we already are.

What does self-dismissiveness mean to you?

Does your brain have a mantra?

How do you see yourself in relations to nature?

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