I grew up in a German-Catholic family and neighborhood and went to a Catholic school from first grade to eighth grade. It was a tight-knit community and a very small school. I remember one key message I learned at home, in school, and at church – “It’s a sin to think highly of yourself.” I remember thinking, from a very young age, that shrinking myself was the key to heaven and to gaining favor in the world. It was the key alright – the key to feeling pain and insignificance.
I went through life thinking and feeling like I couldn’t try to feel important, significant, or like I mattered. When I was a child, I remember needing to put a governor on myself – like I needed to shrink myself and make myself unseen, unheard, and non-existent – to gain favor. I really bought into my religious upbringing like it was the only truth, and I tried hard to punish myself enough to be accepted by a God who loved me, but somehow needed me to feel insignificant for that to happen. Even as I write this it seems unbelievable, but that’s how I rolled.
I behaved like this and adopted these beliefs until my collapse in 2016. After that, I was forced to either pull the trigger and end my life or figure out a new way of thinking and feeling, and a new way to live. Fortunately for myself, my family, and the hundreds of people I’ve coached and the thousands I’ve inspired, I didn’t pull the trigger that day. In deciding to figure out where I went wrong, I discovered some magical truths – we’re all equal, there’s no one more important than me, no one less important than me, and I am the most important person in my life.
I am significant, just like everyone else.
Since we are all equals, people who feel less significant than others must have a disconnect somewhere. Our ability to feel significant is impacted by four distinct areas of the human experience: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
In 1943 Abraham Maslow published his famous work, “A Theory of Human Motivation,” which discussed the steps a human being takes to realize a self-actualized life. Maslow determined what needs must be met and fulfilled to feel significant and fulfilled in life. The bottom rung of the hierarchy was physiological needs, and when these needs aren’t met – oxygen, water, nutrition, exercise, and rest – there’s no way for a person to advance on the hierarchy. In other words, if the physiological needs aren’t being met, there’s no way for a human being to feel significant.
If you’re reading this article, you don’t experience scarcity of these basic needs, but in the western world we don’t pay attention to our breath, and we undernourish, underhydrate, live a sedentary life, and starve ourselves of sleep. Simply put, without taking care of yourself physically, you’re setting yourself up to experience insecurity and inadequacy at heightened levels because your body is inadequately fueled and energized. You’re playing from behind from the start.
The mind creates threats even when there are none. The mind is an amazing problem-solving tool, but an awful tool for helping us recognize our importance, significance, and how easy it is for us to play a meaningful role in society. Basically our mind does it’s best to prevent growth and keeps us from stepping up and out of the pack because the brain’s primary role is to keep us safe, not to help us become socially significant. If not disciplined and properly used, the mind is the biggest enemy we face if we are unconscious of how it tricks us into playing small. The brain points out dangers that don’t exist, and this is why so many people are in survivorship instead of leadership.
Everyone is suffering from some kind of emotional trauma – whether they care to acknowledge it or not. Fear is part of our human DNA, and fear is triggered by subconscious beliefs and programming. The subconscious mind is responsible for 95 percent of our decisions, behaviors, and patterns. We are mostly oblivious to these subconscious conditions. The struggle we face is that our subconscious mind triggers fear responses, and fear triggers cortisol, which creates anxiety, panic, and lack of progress.
People who step out in society, create impact, and gain social significance have the same fears as everyone else, they just have a healthier awareness and relationship with their emotions and emotional states. People who get stuck, get paralyzed by fear at a different level because they have not established a healthy awareness of emotion (or energy in motion) in their body. When past trauma is healed and resolved, emotional signatures shift as well. But this takes commitment to feeling and moving through the emotion – not being stuck. This is not a commitment that everyone cares to make.
I was afraid of spirituality for almost my entire life. All I could think about was my religious upbringing and how it triggered pain in me. I felt that religion was supposed to help you discover freedom, and if it was creating suffering, then what was the value? But I later learned that there is a huge distinction between religion and spirituality – religion is trying to believe in someone else’s interpretation of a relationship with God, source, the universe, or whatever you want to call the creator, and spirituality is forming your own relationship based on your own internal divinity and significance.
Read that last sentence again – based on your own internal divinity and significance. When I felt insignificant, I struggled to realize that God is everything in the grand design of the universe, and we are one of the cells of everything. We are part of the whole. We contain all of the same universal stuff as the entire universe. We are the same stardust as everything else. We are part of the whole, and we are the whole at the same time. We are divine and divinely inspired. We are on purpose. Each of us is uniquely gifted to carry out a specific mission in this lifetime, and no one is more suited for your mission than you. If that’s not significant, I’m not sure what is. You are the most significant person in the universe – just like everyone else.
My journey from being suicidal to internally powerful wasn’t about convincing the same person I used to be that I was significant but developing a healthier relationship with my body, mind, emotions, and spiritualty in order to move the internal needle. When someone doesn’t feel significant, it requires healing and development. It takes reconnecting to who you really are and dropping the identification with who you’re not. It takes a commitment to honoring every aspect of your existence and treating yourself with the utmost respect. No amount of money or possessions will increase your internal significance. In fact, trying to fill or cover up a lack of internal significance with money or materials never works.
The only thing that will work to increase your internal significance is reestablishing your internal connection with yourself. The power inside has always been there, you just need to look inside and find it. This will take some compassion, courage, and a healthier connection with yourself. Your significance is there – trust me. You just need to stop looking where it’s not. There’s a goldmine inside, and I can’t wait for you to feel it.
I’ve learned how to reestablish my internal significance. Long gone are the days of my insignificance and my Catholic school guilt. Now I help people find their internal power. It’s my purpose in life – and there’s no one better suited for my mission than me. There’s a purpose and mission for you, too. You just need to be willing to look inside.
It’s time to find your significance, purpose, and mission. Join our online membership community of leaders who are gathered to learn together, and who are committed to supporting each other and holding each other accountable for significance and leadership. Join now. I commit to you that it will be the best decision you’ve ever made.