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My life doesn’t matter. I am not important. My actions are of no consequence. No one cares about my feelings or opinions.
These kinds of thoughts and feelings can creep into anyone’s mind for so many different reasons.
Sometimes, that reason is so severe that it needs the attention of a mental health professional. Neglect, abuse, and abandonment in childhood can foster low self-esteem and feed these feelings. Domestic abuse survivors may need to piece their own sense of self-worth back together that someone unkind harmed.
Even mental illness can provide fuel for those thoughts and feelings. Depression and anxiety affect the way we relate to other people and our place in the world.
And we live in a society continually telling us that we need to strive for more, reach for greater, do big things, accomplish, and show how much we mean to the rest of the world! Live a big life! Even if that’s not what you want out of life! Otherwise, other people might judge you as not living life correctly!
Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
Still, sometimes life just changes, and we drift further away from the people or situations that make us feel as though we matter.
Maybe the kids have moved out and are busy with their own lives. Maybe you lost a job or had a career change that was a big part of your identity. Maybe you’re in the latter stages of your life and don’t feel like you contribute as much to the world as you once did.
The good news is that these feelings can be redirected or shaped into a healthier perspective about your place in the world.
How do you do that?
1. Examine the feelings of “I don’t matter.”
Feelings can be a questionable source of information at times. So the first thing to do is examine those feelings of not mattering to determine where they are coming from. That way, you can tell whether or not they represent your reality accurately.
Consider a parent who is watching their child head off to college. They are shifting to a life where their child is starting to build their own independence. They will be busy with classes, studying, trying to make friends, dealing with the stress of school, and they may not have lots of time to regularly call or come home.
It’s not that the parent doesn’t matter to them. Their young adult may be looking forward to the next holiday or when they can sit down and have a chat with mom and dad. But to the parent, they may see the person who once depended on them for everything as no longer needing them.
In that scenario, things in life are changing. The child is growing into a young adult, and the parent will need to grow themselves to fill those gaps that are left behind.
They might be able to remedy those feelings by joining a social group, getting a part-time job, taking up a new hobby, or looking for people to talk to.
Look for the reasons why you feel like you don’t matter to see if they are coming from an authentic place. That will also help you find solutions to the problem.
2. Realize that you don’t have to do big things to matter.
Are you out living your best life!? Why not! You should be! You only get one life! Life is short! Make the most of it! Do the things! Do all of the things!
Do big things that other people will pat you on the back and tell you that you’re so brave and amazing for doing! Jump through this hoop! Run fast on this treadmill, so you can go nowhere! You’ll get there eventually, and then you’ll matter!
Want to know a secret? A little secret won through some hard-earned personal experience?
The people who live that life and chase after the approval and praise of others are setting themselves up for a devastating failure.
You have so many cheerleaders. So many people telling you that you’re doing great things, that you matter, that you’re important!
But then something happens. Maybe you fall on hard times, and you can’t live up to the romantic image they’ve created in their head. Maybe you show yourself to be a flawed, fallible human being, and you no longer have the appropriate use for their mental narrative.
So they discard you and move on to someone else who can play out that fantasy for them.
Never base your sense of self-worth on the approval of other people. Avoid doing things for the approval of others to make yourself feel good or like you matter. It will provide you the illusion of mattering, but that will all go away when you’re no longer useful.
Your worth is not tied up on what you can contribute. Your worth is because you are a human being deserving of basic respect and consideration.
3. Remind yourself that you are not alone in these feelings.
Life ebbs and flows. Sometimes everything is excellent, and you’re on top of the world. Other times you need to struggle through the mud to get to where you want to be.
Though you may feel like you don’t matter right now, you’re not alone. Many people struggle to find people to be around and a place to fit into the world.
Part of this is the evolution of our society. Church used to be a common social denominator where people would regularly gather and socialize. That would help fill that hole of loneliness and community that is tied to feeling like you matter.
Oh, but we just said to not tie your feelings to earning the approval of others. Didn’t we?
There’s a subtle difference here. In the previous scenario, you are a singular performer trying to attract attention to fulfill that need. In a community, you aren’t the star of the show. You are a participant. A community member. One of many people who are socializing and coming together to some end. You’re not trying to curry their favor and earn their approval.
Church, social groups, a people-oriented hobby, and volunteer work are all excellent options to find a sense of belonging in this world.
4. Acknowledge and appreciate the small acts of kindness.
Listen, we’re going to make a little assumption about you right here. Chances are pretty good that you aren’t in the greatest headspace if you are reading an article about feeling like you don’t matter.
And for a lot of people, that may not be a small thing. Maybe it’s that you feel like you don’t have friends, or your long-term relationship isn’t working out, or all you do is work to exist and pay bills.
These are significant problems with big feelings that can feel really heavy, so it may seem a little ridiculous, even insulting, to say something like, “Acknowledge and appreciate the small acts of kindness.”
It probably sounds condescending and like a non-solution to reinforce that you matter because of what you put into the world.
Honestly, though, the small things are what move the world. The big flashy things are great for marketing and inspiring people, but it’s small, everyday actions that help keep this world turning.
Things like taking the time to hold a door open, smile at a stranger, or make a difference in only a way that you can all matter.
The big things are lovely when they come around! But they don’t always come around. Sometimes we have to fill our time with smaller things before finding a new love, making new friends, or finding something new to be a part of.
This is also in the neighborhood of “practicing gratitude.” It may help if you make it a regular part of your life.
5. Don’t assume responsibility for the world’s problems.
Humanity faces a lot of issues right now – big issues, massive issues that affect all 7 billion of the world’s human inhabitants.
It can all feel so overwhelming at times because you want to help, to do your bit, to make the world a better place and solve these major problems of our time.
But you’re just one person, right? Your actions don’t really make a difference, do they? They don’t matter in the grand scheme of things.
Just hang on a second there. Sure, you’re no superhero and you may not be some titan of industry, scientific genius, or political pioneer, but you are responsible for your small piece of society.
This goes back to the idea that small things make a difference. Okay, maybe not on the whole world by themselves, but certainly on the people who are positively impacted by your actions, and definitely if your action is one of millions that address an issue.
So just remember that while the world’s problems are not yours to fix by themselves, you can, in your own small way, contribute to the gradual improvement of life on this planet.
6. Seek out appropriate professional help.
Those feelings of not mattering may not be so simple. Many things can contribute to them, things that you can’t get appropriate help from an article for. Childhood trauma, mental illness, abuse, and substance abuse can all cause isolating feelings like these.
It may be worthwhile to talk to a certified mental health professional to discuss those feelings and address any underlying issues that might be fueling them. If you don’t, then all of the world’s strategies and tips aren’t going to help because they aren’t addressing the actual problem.
You matter. It may feel like you don’t right now, life may be hard, and people may suck, but it won’t stay that way forever.
Things will change, sooner or later. Don’t give up. Build your personal health and well-being so you can enjoy those things when you find them.
Still not sure how to feel like you matter in life? Speak to a counselor today who can walk you through the process. Simply click here to connect with one.
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