Feeling significant and worthy is a common human need. Religion, consumerism, and achievement all speak to the hole in humanity that everyone knows exists, but most keep hidden. Shh, that hole is a secret. I don’t want it exposed. It might make me look weak, and God knows it’ll make me feel vulnerable.
But Come, this needs says, be filled! Buy more! Achieve more! Use more grit! Be recognized! Be loved by a God who knows the very number of hairs on your head!
I’ll be the first to tell you, I want to feel like my life matters. To someone. To anyone! But this need to feel special, like there is noone in the world like me, is also a mindset that keeps many from fully living.
For several months I had a professional coach who gave me insight into holding a “special” place in my work. “Listen,” she said, “You CAN be replaced.”
Oh shit. Talk about a hit to my ego.
There are others who can do your job well. There are many loving mothers and fathers who can raise your kids well. And – take a deep breath – there are other men or women who would make a phenomenal partner to your spouse.
I’m grateful to my mom who once told me, “There isn’t just one person you’re compatible with. There are many – you just get to choose which one you want to live with for the rest of your life.”
Searching for a soul mate keeps people searching and searching…or trying to maintain idealizing expectations of what being “made for each other” should feel like…or expecting someone else to fill our “special tank” to remind us that there is NOONE like us!
But I’m here to lovingly break the news to you: you are not special.
This is not a cynical blog. I’m in the business of empowering people so if this squashes you like it did me at first, hang on. This is a freeing mindset that will help you if you’re ready for it.
Let me pull one more punch with a quote by Ghandi before I put this back together:
Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it’s very important that you do it.
Insert cricket chirp.
Okay, in case I’ve unleashed some fury, let me get to the insight.
You are unique, an expression of something much bigger – an energy, a deity, a higher power and purpose…JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE.
You and me? We’re just alike. Nothing especially different except for the way we express our uniqueness.
I mean, externally do we differ? Sure. Are there people who have a higher IQ? An obvious “gift”? A knack for creativity or expression or talent? Yes.
Our DNA is unlike anyone else, but we do all have DNA…built from the same microscopic pieces. However, each of us IS unique in our DNA’s expression. So let me make the point: This is a thing to be celebrated, not compared, compartmentalized, and competed with until we come to the conclusion we are special and set apart from everyone else!
You are probably not the most beautiful woman alive. Chances are you’re not the most accomplished man in the world.
I marvel at something my father-in-law told my husband when he was a kid, “There will always be someone better than you.”
Encouraging the belief of specialness perpetuates the search for external things and people to pat your ego on the back with the assurance you ARE special. This mindset comes at the expense of others or ourselves: “I’m just not enough…until I’m special!”
The reason validation and affirmation feel so good to so many of us is because it’s a reminder of our unspecialness. I’m just like you. I feel that way sometimes, too.
So, according to Ghandi, how you express your uniqueness is for your enjoyment.
You don’t have to earn or prove your significance. You don’t have to be better than your neighbor. You don’t have to buy, achieve, or believe anything specific to fill that humanity hole everyone inherently knows exists.
So what will? Well, I wish I was the expert (now that would make me pretty special), but I’m still discovering it myself.
One observation: be you.
Privately, publicaly, and professionally, express your aliveness just like you want to. THAT’s what’ll fill your significance tank. Be you. At all times. Just because it’s what’s inside you. Who knows, you might make a huge wordly difference…but guess what? You’re going to be gone in a few decades and the world will go on and a new generation of people will start over from scratch again.
Any exterior source of attachment to provide your worth will only create a bigger gap, a wider hole, and a greater need to have something outside of you validate your existence and tell you that NOONE can take your place.
But the bottom line? Someone CAN take your place.
What to do about it? Be free. Have a good time, and get the most out of life by creating joy…without attachments and expectations to feel special.
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