Why Mattering Is So Important to Your Mental Health

Why Mattering Is So Important to Your Mental Health

Although we’re all different and different things will work for different people when it comes to mental health and happiness, there are a few fundamental principals that will be essential for pretty much everyone.

And one of these is feeling as though we matter; as though others care about us.

This basic foundation of being is not often talked about but it’s one that’s summarised nicely by Susan Krauss Whitbourne in this Psychology Today article …


  • Mattering is the general belief that you are important to others. “Anti-mattering” means that you feel you just don’t matter at all.
  • New research developing the 5-item Anti-Mattering Scale shows how people high in this quality can be vulnerable to mental health disorders.
  • Learning to recognize anti-mattering in yourself can be an important first step to overcoming loneliness.

There may be times that you’d like to feel invisible, but for the most part, people like to feel that other people notice and care about them. If you’ve ever walked into a social gathering and waited five minutes for someone to greet you, then you know how painful it is to feel like you’re blending into the background. Alternatively, consider the agony you can suffer when you’ve sent a text to a friend, only to have it sit there “delivered,” but unanswered.

When you stop and think about it, though, why should you care so much about whether people notice you or not? After all, the people who know you might be busy and preoccupied with other things. It shouldn’t make a difference, either, whether people who don’t know you acknowledge your presence. And, in reality, aren’t there those times when you’d be just as happy to get in and out of someplace without having to stop and talk to anyone?

In positive psychology, the quality of “mattering” is considered, in the words of York University’s Gordon Flett and colleagues (2022) to be “a key psychological resource.” Although you might occasionally enjoy the cloak of invisibility, Flett et al. propose that feeling chronically insignificant can become a “meta-pathology” that can interfere with the ability to obtain “optimal health and well-being.”

Why Does it Matter to Matter?

According to the Canadian researchers, rather than simply feeling invisible, when you suffer from what they call “anti-mattering,” you define yourself as someone whose “personal identity is dominated by the sense of not mattering to others.” You adopt this identity as a shield for the specific reason of protecting yourself from the stress of being ignored or regarded as irrelevant by others. The “anti” here, literally means “against” mattering, not simply being low in the feeling that you matter.

In the words of the authors, anti-mattering “should be regarded as a unique and specific vulnerability unlike any other risk factor…. [it] can become a cognitive preoccupation that is internalized and results in self-harm tendencies and an inability or unwillingness to engage in self-care.”

The anti-mattering stance can come from many sources, such as facing constant rejection from potential romantic partners, employers, or even those rude people who never reply to your texts. However, the Canadian researchers propose that its most likely source can be traced to early childhood experiences of neglect by distracted and unresponsive parents. The hard shell around your need to matter eventually forms so that even the worst experiences of rejection will fail to penetrate.

Unfortunately, the more resistant the shell becomes to rejection or dismissive treatment, the harder it is for others to get through to you. Rewarding relationships become that much more difficult to attain as others learn that it’s easier just to stay away from you.

5 Ways to Test Your Anti-Mattering Tendencies

To tap into the unique qualities of anti-mattering…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE