Nearly all of us human beings desire to feel important to others, to have our importance reflected back to us, especially by those who are close to us. “I matter to them.” “You matter to us!”
Yet so many of us lack this sense of being important. When we do receive this from others, frustratingly the feeling often does not last long. Then, when we try to regain this elusive inner confidence (that is brought alive so often by others), we are unsuccessful. That’s when the real problems start.
We can feel depressed, disconnected, powerless to do anything well or right. Or, we can try to boost our sense of importance by making others less important. The latter in particular is where so many of us are stuck on one or the other side, often on both in different situations.
The reading I’ve done recently has convinced me that this sense of feeling important to others (and knowing their importance to us) begins prior to birth in an implicit fashion. In the womb, while there is sound, there is but one creature without any contrast created by another.
That sense of the world ends at birth. Now there are gaps that did not exist before. How well things will turn out for the child depends upon how quickly and how well the gaps are bridged. But even a small gap (hunger, physical discomfort) can seem endless for a newborn, and in those endless moment, it would be easy to have an immediate, strong sense (not put into words) that there is no end to this, and if there is no end, I will die. Shame, terror, rage.
Therefore, if we do not feel important as adults, or others attempt to make us to feel and believe we do not matter, the deepest, oldest part of us instinctively fears death, which is why the drive to be seen as important is so intense.