What It Means to “Matter”

What It Means to “Matter”

It’s been argued by some that all we really want … is to be seen.

Which is another way of saying, to matter; to be valued; to be, in some way, important.

I guess this can be defined in different ways, and it can mean different things to different people, but this article by Isaac Prilleltensky via Psychology Today is well worth a read …


  • When a person both feels valued and adds value to themselves and others, they become happier and healthier.
  • Wellness and worthiness depend on fairness in relationships, at work, and in the community.
  • A “me culture” focuses on one’s right to feel valued. A “we culture” balances one’s rights with a responsibility to feel valued and add value.

Following many trials and tribulations, including a lost love, a broken heart, and a dangerous journey, Jane Eyre arrived sick and penniless in a new town. There, as a teacher, she eventually found respect and appreciation from the community: “I felt I became a favourite in the neighbourhood. Whenever I went out, I heard on all sides cordial salutations, and was welcomed with friendly smiles. To live amidst general regard … is like “sitting in sunshine, calm and sweet.” This is how Charlotte Bronte described her protagonist’s sense of mattering.

A few decades later, William James, the American psychologist, described the opposite experience: “If no one turned around when we entered, answered when we spoke, or minded what we did, but if every person we met ‘cut us dead,’ and acted as if we were nonexisting things, a kind of rage and impotent despair would ere long well up in us.” The pain of being ignored, unworthy of attention at all, he wrote, was sufficient to generate misery.

The Meaning of Mattering

Mattering consists of feeling valued and adding value, to ourselves and others. By feeling valued, we mean being appreciated, respected, and recognized. By adding value, we mean making a contribution and making a difference in the world.

The mattering effect refers to the positive or negative consequences of feeling like we matter or not. Feeling valued is a precondition for personal health and well-being. Adding value, or making a contribution, is a prerequisite for a meaningful life. The negative effects of not mattering, however, can be devastating.

Ostracism, exclusion, and rejection are not only painful, but they can also lead to violence and depression.

Feeling like we matter is one of the most defining features of humanity. When that feeling is present, we thrive. When it is absent, we feel ignored and helpless. Threats to mattering diminish our dignity…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE