Everything in the world seems designed to ensure we get mixed up about our unique purpose. Children are especially vulnerable to picking up the wrong message about themselves, but even into adulthood the human brain focuses more on negative input than positive. Did you know that it takes five positive messages to counteract a negative one? (Daniel Kahneman) Why are we humans so drawn to the negative?
On top of that, children are self-focused – they think everything in their environment is a reflection of them. Kids are the center of their own universe. So if you grew up in a household full of chaos and stress, or a house where your parents were just really busy, you might have picked up some ideas about yourself that they didn’t mean to transmit.
In a family where the parents are extremely busy or preoccupied with work, social activities, or religious duties, and there is not enough time to just sit and play with kids, the kids tend to feel insignificant from a young age. They grow up internalizing the message that pretty much everything is more important than they are. A child in a family like this feels small. Did you grow up in an environment like this? Depending on your temperament and birth order, you may have been frustrated or angry because you didn’t matter, or you may have quietly accepted your role of insignificance. You may have grown up not even realizing you felt this way until you began to experience obstacles later on in life that either held you back from accomplishing what you wanted to, or kept you from even realizing that you could do more with your life than just wake up, go to work, watch television, sleep, and repeat.
It’s not until you begin to look within – maybe you don’t even think about it until someone like me comes along and asks – do you feel insignificant? Or maybe you have a dream burning inside you – is it clearly defined or it is just that feeling deep inside your heart that you were meant for more than this. You wake up with this feeling, and by the end of the day, when life has again made you weary, you dismiss the feeling as foolish dreaming. Why is it that you cannot seem to reach a goal, sometimes cannot even figure out what it is that you would like to do?
Or maybe your life as a child was a bit more difficult. If one or more of your parents died, or if your parents were divorced, it is a form of abandonment. If you were young, you may have internalized a rejection message, whether it was intended that way or not. In my case, the rejection “letter” so to speak, was loud and clear. Even though I was already 16 when my mother went to court and had me declared an emancipated child, I had already lived my entire life unable to please my parents. I wrote notes to my mother as a young child explaining to her that I was “bad” and that I would try harder to be good. That I needed to be punished and yelled at. Thoughts like that do not come from a child whose parents have lavished her with love and acceptance. My father abandoned us, his family, to start a new family in a different city, and my mother dropped me off at the corner with a suitcase. She was so adamant about her rejection of me that she made it official with the signed paperwork and approval of the court.
Rejection is a stark, unmistakable way to obliterate significance. When you are discarded, you couldn’t be less important. Like a piece of paper with mistaken words written upon it, you are crumbled, tossed away, and covered with refuse. Only with God’s help can you overcome a wound like this. But your wound doesn’t have to cripple you forever. In fact, overcoming the hurt of rejection by realizing your amazing significance and purpose can help you to soar higher and accomplish more than you ever dreamed of.
No matter what the circumstances of your life that have made you believe you are insignificant, you can change that belief and find new freedom and purpose. Stop the fruitless search for significance that you have tried to earn by working harder and harder, by pleasing all the wrong people, by jumping through every hoop put before you by people who may or may not be well meaning but who certainly do not understand you and your struggles. Or, stop being stuck, your feet sunk in quicksand that pulls you down deeper every time you try to make a move so you end up just staying still and slowly sinking in the pit of your silent despair… why can’t I follow my dream… You can follow your dream, you can live your purpose and you can start now. You don’t have to believe yet that you are truly significant, you don’t even have to believe that God is a miracle worker who wants to make a miracle out of you. You just have to be open to the possibility.
Are you open?