A Sense of Mattering
Written by: Jessie Nolasco-Sandino, LMSW
Happy November! May the Holiday season treat us well and make space for an opportunity to connect with others and ourselves. Today I’d like to take the opportunity to speak about mattering, a concept I recently came across in one of my readings, and circles back to the concept of loneliness I spoke about last month. Mattering may even help reduce mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and overall stress of being a human during uncertain times.
A quote that resonates well for this concept is “Nothing exists by itself alone. We all belong to each other; we cannot cut reality into pieces” by Thich Nhat Hanh. What I think this quote refers to is that we are all intertwined and interconnected to one another and each of us plays a part in the greater whole.
In the intricate web of existence, amid the challenges and uncertainties, the concept of mattering shines brightly. Mattering is the profound recognition that our lives are intertwined with each other and more connected than we think. To matter signifies that our thoughts, actions, feelings and choices have a lasting impact, leaving a trace and/or legacy behind us, in the next generation passed down through our children. Embracing the idea of mattering means acknowledging our life force within us in the grand scheme of things. It is the understanding that our existence is not arbitrary; rather, we are essential strands intricately woven together as we are interconnected.
In an article written by Gordon L. Flett, he identifies eight important aspects about Mattering:
1. MATTERING IS POWERFUL
The power of mattering is evident in its ability to change the lives of individuals who experience that they matter from their peers/family.
2. MATTERING IS A VITAL SOURCE OF RESILIENCE & ADAPTABILITY
When an individual feels that they matter, they are more resilient to adversities like stress or anxiety. Alternatively, those who do not experience a sense of mattering when they are exposed to adversity, are at risk and vulnerable.
3. MATTERING IS MODIFIABLE
How one obtains a sense of mattering can be changed based on different circumstances and individuals. It is not set to specific parameters, rather individuals can learn to cultivate it flexibly.
4. MATTERING IS CENTRAL TO HOW PEOPLE DEFINE THEMSELVES
Mattering is strongly linked to the self. Positive reactions occur in the self when one feels like they matter, while negative reactions occur when the self feels like they don’t.
5. MATTERING IS PERTINENT ACROSS LIFESPAN
Some research that has been conducted among adults suggest that mattering is closely linked to well-being throughout their lives. Feelings of not mattering are more closely linked to depression.
6, MATTERING IS RELEVANT TO OUR CURRENT TIMES
Mattering can help the challenges of uncertain times such as war and sickness. It is even seen as a core element in enduring such events.
7. MATTERING IS UNIVERSAL
The differences in mattering have been studied across the world in many different countries, all of which show that there are similarities in the need to matter. It should be noted though that comparative cross-cultural research has not yet been conducted.
8. MATTERING HAS GREAT KNOWLEDGE MOBILIZATION POTENTIAL
Because mattering resonates with so many and is simple to understand, it is easier to spread awareness and knowledge on the subject that seems to be intuitive to human beings.
Identifying these eight pillars of mattering creates an opportunity to create space to grow, expand and stretch in new ways of being. It adds purpose and meaning to our everyday tasks and daily responsibilities. It gives us a sense that we are connected and that how we choose to live our lives and carry ourselves in the world impacts others around us. For example, every smile shared, every act of kindness, and every moment of compassion spreads far beyond ourselves, impacting the collective human experience. How we show up matters. How we choose to act or not act towards others matters. What we think, behave and feel matters.
Mattering is recognizing the truth that being connected, belonging in a community, reminds us that we are not isolated beings but integral contributors to the ever-evolving story of humanity. May we learn from history. May we wake up and do things differently. In recognizing our inherent worth, we find the strength to navigate challenges and foster a world where every individual is valued, and every life truly matters.