Posts Tagged: self-respect

Why Do I Feel Insignificant?

Have you ever had the feeling that you just didn’t matter? Maybe a time you expressed your opinion and felt dismissed or un-important? How about volunteering your time for an event and not receiving a thank you for your time? Or how about when you were at that party and saw the guy you liked, and how he looked passed you at your taller, prettier best friend? Oh, that’s the worst!

All of us have had the feeling of being unseen before. It’s like, “I swear I’m here in living form, but no one seems to notice or care.”

I was once a part of a church group in which I was un-seen. Looking back, I’m rather embarrassed I stayed  as long as I did, but learning the hard way is my MO. Year after year, I volunteered my time, I hosted events, and started prayer meetings for the group’s members. Damn, I was a good Christian! But I always had this sinking feeling that I was just being tolerated- like a bizarre circus side show act that garnered curiosity and queer glances.

I never truly belonged to the group because I was not truly seen as valuable. True belonging is impossible without being truly seen.

To be seen is to be valued, recognized as a worthwhile individual; to be identified as uniquely separate with personal rights, needs and interests equal to others; to be noticed, counted, and taken interest in. Significance has less to do with performance and behavior, and more to do with inherent human value. It is being seen as human only- not more or less than.

Are you truly seen in your relationships? Do you feel valuable and equal? Do you respect yourself in your relationships by speaking up for your needs, following through with boundaries, and believing yourself to be equal? Let’s explore some examples. 

A young couple marry. The husband’s job takes them across country to start their life together. The wife is unable to find work in her field and becomes depressed. The husband sees the professional sacrifice she has made to be with him, and offers to quit his job and move to another area where she can find acceptable work. She, in turn feels that her needs are seen as important. She appreciates his gesture so much that she determines to stick it out where she is, so that he can continue his career path. Because she feels seen, valued and cared for, she has the strength to continue her sacrifice with contentment. She reinvents herself professionally, and they decide together to heavily invest in her new business start up. Her unique needs are seen, prioritized and resourced. She feels seen as a valuable person.

Way back when I was breaking my neck trying to be seen in the group who just didn’t see me, I didn’t know that I was guilty of not seeing myself. How could they see me as valuable when I didn’t see myself that way? How could I matter to them if I was acting as if I didn’t matter to myself?

Another example of being seen is when a mother sees her child as a valuable person, separate from herself, she is able to see and meet her child’s specific needs. If the child is struggling with her parents’ divorce, and acting out at school, the mother sees her child’s pain as separate from her own, and is able to address it by asking for help from the school counselor, meeting with the teacher, or talking it through with the child. The mother communicates to her child, “I see you. You are important to me, I care that you are hurting. I’m here for you.” Instead of drowning in her own pain, the mother sees her child as important enough to temporarily set her own needs aside, and meet the needs of her child. How many times have divorced mothers dried their eyes before the afternoon school bus arrives so they can give their happiest and healthiest selves to their children?

Sometimes this happens, and sometimes it doesn’t. You may remember growing up with such mental illness, dysfunction, or chemical abuse in your family, that you and your needs were largely ignored. 

Don’t ignore yourself anymore. Don’t treat yourself and your needs un-important anymore. If you start treating yourself as important, one of two things will happen: 1) the people around you will learn how too, or 2)the people around you will drop off and you will begin to attract new, healthier people. Either way, you win.

What ways have you learned to make yourself important? What advice could you give others?


How to be Good Enough: the Perfectionist’s Guide to Happiness

Do you know an overworked, under-appreciated, bitter employee- one that may get paid well, but is never happy? I’d like to suggest that overworked, under-appreciated, bitter employee is the Inner Critic taking up residence in your head. If you’re a perfectionist, you know this to be true. Your Inner Critic, let’s call her Madge, is never satisfied and continually believes you should do more, produce more, be respected more, be paid more, and above all be more perfect. She sits in the passenger seat of your car and tells you how others should know better, and do better. She yammers away at the side of your bed reminding you of the blunders you made earlier that day. She whispers in your ear at social functions that the people in the corner are avoiding you and can’t wait for you to leave. She sulks and stamps, whining, “it will never be good enough! No matter how hard you try, it will. Never. Be. Good. Enough!” When she’s at her worst, she’ll substitute “You” for “it,” and then her attacks become personal. Madge is duplicitous, suffering with black and white thinking. If you’re not the most successful, then you’re nothing. If you’re not the highest paid, then you’re a failure. If you’re not the most sought after, then you’re a loser. If you’re not the perfect mother, then you’re mommy dearest. If you’re not the most beautiful, then you’re ugly. If you aren’t the best, then you’re the worst. How could you? What were you thinking? Why are always so impossible?

Madge procrastinates. She convinces you to put things off until they become overwhelming and overdue- mostly because the prospect of getting it up to perfectionist standards seems impossible. And if you do it imperfectly, it will be a complete flop. And you’ll be the flop too.

Madge is a split personality- either Pollyanna with childish wishful thinking, or doomsday Drazilla pessimistic to the core.  Ne’er the two shall meet!

Madge is judgmental. She judges others and their motives harshly because she judges you harshly too.

Madge is stuck in the emotionally immature valley of duplicity, unable to integrate the good sides of self and the bad sides of self.

Madge is a victim, mad at people and society and authority who keep her down, but powerless to do anything about them.

Madge is sad. And afraid. And hiding.

How to Reform Madge into Magic

  • Madge needs a new role. Instead of being bitter and disapproving, Madge’s new assignment is to be a realist.  She needs to see the reality that you are human and humans aren’t perfect. To expect perfection is delusional and very un-clever. Madge doesn’t want to be un-clever. She just wants to be loved. So be careful not to fire Madge all together. Just put her on probation until she can grow up a bit, have a more realistic view of herself and the world.
  • Offer yourself plenty of UPR- Unconditional Positive Regard. Don’t love yourself in spite of the mistakes, love yourself inside of the mistakes. When you’re at your lowest, your worst, your least presentable, give yourself an emotional hug and say, “You’re alright, you’re just being human.” Madge will protest this way of thinking because she’s afraid of rejection and shame. She’ll freak out and threaten doom, “Something terrible will happen if you fail!” Tell her, “thank you for your concern, I’ve noted it. Now please calm yourself down and tend to your new job- reality.”
  • Integrate your Yin and your Yang, your good and your bad, your head and your hiney. As long as you’re human, you’re going to make choices that lead to amazing results, and choices that lack the results for which you were hoping. Then, there are times you’ll just make a hiney of yourself. Welcome to the world of being human. Accept it, integrate it and move on. Madge wants you to stay split in the “all or nothing,” but you know now that only emotional children believe in the “all or nothing.” And you’re not an emotional child anymore, are you?
  • Accept yourself as GOOD ENOUGH. Here’s the memo you want to send Madge, “I’m a good enough _______________ to get the job done God has asked me to do.”

Perfectionism can stop innovation, creativity and the ability to take risks. The essence of faith is found in dreaming, in hoping, in trying- not in results. Achievement and results are great, but it is in the faith effort of the actions that lend personal growth. Reassigning perfection to God alone, letting Madge off the perfectionism hook, and accepting yourself with heavy doses of UPR will make you a much happier person.

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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