I have been thinking about this idea of importance for a while now.
I began to think about this as I was reading the book "How to Win Friends and Influence People". This is a timeless book that millions of people have read. It's old. The title, in my opinion, is the worst part of the book. It doesn't do the book justice and almost feels like a gimmick, but thankfully the content inside is deep, deep wisdom.
There’s a part in the first fifty pages that briefly touches on the idea of importance. That essentially..
everything we do in life is driven by the need to feel important.
This is a big statement. Surely, I thought this couldn’t be true, but as I began to examine my life, I found it to be more true then false.
This does not necessarily mean it's bad. Wanting to feel important is normal.
Importance is constructed by the desire to feel needed, by the need to feel unique or special, it's the need to feel noticed and heard.
Everyone likes to feel needed. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with desiring a community of people that truly know who you are, who need you. There is nothing wrong with being unique or special. I believe that we all have certain things that make us unique and special that should be celebrated but not used to distinguish one human more important then the other.
The main issue with needing to feel important is that it often can become the thing that destroys relationships, families, and jobs. If you always have to feel important you will always be comparing and competing with those around you.
I have found when I let the desire to feel important lead my life, I often will exaggerate or tell a straight up lie in order to keep the ego and pride happy. I am sorry.
You may often find yourself fluffing up your skills or lifestyle to others if the need to feel important is driving your life.
We can see when needing to feel important is done in a healthy way when it is growing, healing, and helping the world become a better place. Maybe you volunteer somewhere, maybe you help out a friend on a regular basis. These sorts of things make us feel important, they make us feel needed, they make us have a sense that we are all in the same shared human experience and that taking care of each other and helping those in need is accepted as good.
We can also see when importance is done in an unhealthy manner. We can look at those that act out in violence, those that have conducted crimes, those that may compete at work in order to feel superior, those that post lavish lifestyle photos on Instagram and incessantly check to see who has liked or commented. These types of behavior are not healthy. They happen when we are not feeling seen or heard or viewed as important.
If we know importance is one of the main things at our core that we desire, then it always has the ability to manifest itself in a positive way or a negative way.
There is also a third way of thinking about importance.
This way is the way of giving up the need to be important. This approach to life is often hard as it requires us to give up one of our core desires. Some attain it and some do not. It requires the idea of giving up. To give up ones need to feel important can cause great distress as our ego and identity are so closely tied within it. I have started to give up the idea of needing to be important. I have started to navigate it and what I have found is glimpses of peace and depth.
When we give up the need to be important then we are able to tell the truth more often. We are able to not view other humans as competition. We begin to view the world as not scarce but abundant. We begin to see humans as equal. We begin to see that there is no hierarchy.
We are all humans, there is no super human and less than human.
If we know this, then we are all equal and equally important. If you disagree with that, then you may struggle your whole life trying to feel like you are enough.... which you are.
There is no human more important then another. Yes, there may be people who do good things or bad things but those things are often birthed out of the very desire we have been talking about, the need to feel important.
Most of us have been told a narrative that encourages us to strive after being viewed as important, to be better then the other person, to show that we are superior and have it all figured out, that some walk in the light and some do not, that some are woke and some are not. All of this is dividing and excluding and is at the core of 99% of all our problems.
The president should be viewed just as important as those in third world countries.
The pastor should be viewed just as important as the janitor who takes care of the building.
The award winner should be viewed just as important as the loser.
The one with the most followers and checkmark by their name should be viewed just as important as someone with no checkmark by their name.
The ________ should be viewed just as important as the _______. (You fill it in, you get the idea)
Until we begin to see that we are all equally important then we will continue to see people let importance drive their lives into a place of competition, exhaustion, racism, sexism, and bigotry.
If you begin to fight the need to be important you may find yourself lost for a bit. This is normal. You may feel like you don't really know who you are. Let me tell you who you are. You are a human, so valued, and you are loved, and your job and your money does not make you more or less important, you are already enough. Let that echo throughout this week.