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Wanting to feel significant

Old 04-09-2015, 07:42 AM
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Wanting to feel significant

Almost all psychological theories posit that people need to feel significant and that they matter. Theology does the same thing. Yet it seems like so many are struggling with feelings of loneliness, inferiority and directionlessness. So to fill the void many abuse drugs and alcohol, or turn to sex or food or exercise or.... Anything to alter the mood and lessen the feelings of despair.

I have struggled with this a majority of my life and it stems from my childhood of abuse. I have filled my void in various ways at various points in my life. Education was a biggie early on. I lived and breathed academia. Then I threw myself into work. A workaholic. And relationships... and most recently alcohol. None of that improved my innate feelings of "not being good enough". In fact, most of it reinforced those feelings.

So, now I am trying to find a balance and not run to the "next thing" to fill that void. It's tough to break a lifelong pattern.

Any thoughts about this? How did you cope?
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Old 04-09-2015, 07:52 AM
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How about volunteering? Could be anything - food pantry, animal shelter, soup kitchen, coaching, refereeing, the list is very long. Sometimes helping others is the best medicine to help yourself, right?
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Old 04-09-2015, 07:55 AM
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Thanks Scott... that is a good point. I have been trying to find something in myself by introspecting (to a fault) and perhaps it is simply that I need to look outward.
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Old 04-09-2015, 08:51 AM
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AF - I began to focus on the solution and take action. Simply for me, that is making a daily attempt towards discovering the Great Reality within each of us as human beings.

I do this thru(passage) meditation - readings of spiritual truth from the likes of The Buddah, Christ, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, Francis of Assisi to name just a few.


For me the balance falls into one of self truth - who am I? It takes me many different places, but always with the same "map light".

This is the pursuit of my days now that alcohol is removed. I am chipping away at the block of stone slowly with the chisel to find what has always been there. My truth......
And yes, cannot agree more it is difficult to change life long habits. But, NOT impossible as I thought a mere 10 months back today.

This works for me today The story of the elephant sculptor : The Timeless Wisdom of Eknath Easwaran
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Old 04-09-2015, 09:13 AM
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I found it in helping others in AA and SR
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Old 04-09-2015, 03:31 PM
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Volunteering certainly helped me feel productive and worthwhile again.
It didn't do the whole job of making me feel 'significant' but it was a good kick start

D
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Old 04-09-2015, 03:42 PM
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I've accepted my insignificance.
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Old 04-09-2015, 03:47 PM
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I'm jumping on the pro volunteering band wagon. When my kids were younger I was a very active participant as an officer in their school's PTA's, volunteered in the classroom teaching kids how to write, and coached their in town sports teams. Now that they're in college I volunteer at a local soup kitchen when I can. All very rewarding except for some of the lunatic parents I had to deal with when coaching.
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Old 04-09-2015, 03:49 PM
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Spirituality and acceptance!
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Old 04-09-2015, 03:54 PM
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Sounds like you have an addictive personality what you do you do it hard. Find something that really makes you happy. Maybe something you always wanted to do but never made that first step. Good luck to you and keep going
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Old 04-09-2015, 03:55 PM
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Hi Art.

I really relate to this post, both on the origin of the feelings (childhood abuse) and the coping strategies and "resolution" in response to it in the long run. In my experience, this issue did not go away at all and repeated itself in a variety of forms until I truly faced and processed it. I actually think some of the effects and consequences probably never go away, but once we deal with it appropriately, it gets placed in a "past compartment" and does not influence our choices and behavior in the present in the same way. I would really recommend to you to find some safe way to process your feelings, which probably best to include talking about them to someone. And of course a lot of honest introspection and exercise in self-acceptance.

The volunteering is a great idea if you are inclined to do it. I think what you mentioned about finding an area where you can "project" your need for feeling significant, useful, and accomplished is a great way, too. I personally found this in my profession, but I did have a problem in the past over-identifying with it (with my professional role). It was hard to drop the maladaptive part without harming the constructive part, but I will say it's feasible. I also recently found a good source of this from participating here on SR, which has been quite a discovery for me because I did not see myself as a helper kind of person before, and I feel it's very rewarding.

I think finding and doing something you are genuinely passionate about and which suits your personality is the way to go in terms of getting this feeling of significance. I did not have problems finding such a "niche" early in my life, but I then had problems due to my perfectionism and fear of failure related to it, which I only addressed quite recently. I will also say that carving out a unique way of contribution to something I feel passionate about amplifies the feeling of accomplishment.

As for the original events that triggered the emotional pattern, again, I definitely suggest that you talk to someone about it.
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Old 04-09-2015, 04:02 PM
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Artfriend,

that thing about being worthy. can we ever be worthy? can we ever do enough? can we ever be totally not worthy? I think of some jerk sitting on death row. Can anyone tell him he can't take a course and learn a new language or something? sure, he's worthy of learning a new language. I mean, why not? and if worthy of one thing, then why not another thing?

and you and I certainly are not sitting on death row.

I too was abused early and yes, it's a life sentence in many ways. and then there's the thing about trying to fill that worthiness void. So I have searched the thing out until I could come to a conclusion.

I just read some self-help books and pondered things and just decided, as a matter of policy, that yes, I was worthy. I am better than some, worse than others. It doesn't matter. i am worthy because i say i am worthy. who on this earth can judge the thing beyond that? we are worthy my friend. we are all worthy if we just go ahead and conclude that we are. and that's good enough. we need to feel worthy to ever have mental health and everyone is worthy of mental health so we are worthy. there you go.
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Old 04-09-2015, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by StayStrong33 View Post
Spirituality and acceptance!
This. Look within to find serenity and well being. Its not easy but very worthwhile.
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Old 04-09-2015, 04:19 PM
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I think that if you continually look outside of yourself to solve the problem of the feelings of insignificance or inadequacy that you have harbored for many years, you are distracting yourself from changing that internal belief. Helping others or finding an equally satisfying purpose is a great way to reinforce and build upon the already held belief that you are indeed significant. However, I am not sure how good external strivings are when it comes to changing those feelings to begin with.

As you stated, these feelings began at a young age and were then reinforced as you grew older until they became a staple in your own self perception. The trick now is to reprogram those untrue beliefs. I am quite certain it is not the design of the Universe for you to have these beliefs. Actually, quite the contrary.

I would recommend a therapist you trust as well as spiritual books that deal with changing your understanding of yourself. Changing faulty beliefs is a process. A couple of Wayne Dyer's earlier books address the issue in very easy to understand terms. They are "Your Erroneous Zones" and "Pulling Your Own Strings". I got alot out of both of them.
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Old 04-09-2015, 04:24 PM
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I started a volunteer job the same week I began recovery (and moved to a place where English was not the first language). I thought I had something to offer to a drop-in center for women who lived on the street. Little did I know that those amazing women and the other volunteers saved me. Through them, I began to discover my self-worth. I could never have given as much to them as they gave to me. I spent eight years there and cried when I had to move away.
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Old 04-09-2015, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by ArtFriend View Post
Thanks Scott... that is a good point. I have been trying to find something in myself by introspecting (to a fault) and perhaps it is simply that I need to look outward.
AF I support volunteering, I do it myself, I also suggest you look outward a lot more. Significance isn't something you reach inside yourself and find, it comes from what we do and how that action makes us feel.

Look at your day -- what minor actions could you take that would make the day better for someone else?
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Old 04-09-2015, 04:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Bmac View Post
I think that if you continually look outside of yourself to solve the problem of the feelings of insignificance or inadequacy that you have harbored for many years, you are distracting yourself from changing that internal belief. Helping others or finding an equally satisfying purpose is a great way to reinforce and build upon the already held belief that you are indeed significant. However, I am not sure how good external strivings are when it comes to changing those feelings to begin with.

As you stated, these feelings began at a young age and were then reinforced as you grew older until they became a staple in your own self perception. The trick now is to reprogram those untrue beliefs. I am quite certain it is not the design of the Universe for you to have these beliefs. Actually, quite the contrary.

I would recommend a therapist you trust as well as spiritual books that deal with changing your understanding of yourself. Changing faulty beliefs is a process. A couple of Wayne Dyer's earlier books address the issue in very easy to understand terms. They are "Your Erroneous Zones" and "Pulling Your Own Strings". I got alot out of both of them.
Well said. Show love and compassion to others with all your heart, and strive to learn about and appreciate all life has to offer, and there is no doubt in my mind that you will be significant to most of the people you come in contact with.
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Old 04-09-2015, 05:12 PM
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For me it was turning off the negative-self-hating loop playing over and over in my mind. It was so much a part of my thought process is was like Muzak in an elevator but only instead of Girl from Ipanema it was Your a loser and everyone knows it. As long as I kept doing that no accomplishment or compliment was going to matter anyway.
How I did it was I decided to forgive everyone who had treated me unfairly and in exchange I would get forgiveness for my stupidity. Then I decided to raise my freak flag and refuse to defend myself. When those thoughts creep back in I tell myself "hey, we have a deal."
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Old 04-09-2015, 05:37 PM
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Animal shelter volunteer here. Did you know they need people to come play with the dogs and cats? PLAY!?!

Only issue is I want to take too many of them home with me, but it is a great distraction that is social for me, and also rewarding.

I tried volunteering at the homeless shelter, but it hurt me too much that I couldn't help them, and they don't get play time

The main point I see, is I am out doing something that makes me feel normal which is what I gave up when I became a solitary drunk.
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Old 04-09-2015, 05:39 PM
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I could never have given as much to them as they gave to me.
so so true.

Thanks Anna

D
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