It’s just two words, but they are full of such power and cause such a strong reaction within each of us. When we hear or see these two words directed at us we essentially have one of two reactions.
1. We gratefully accept these words.
2. We instinctively fight these words.
However, whether you accept them or fight them, the process within yourself is essentially the same. You process the words and apply them or compare them to your circumstances, your relationships, your life. I asked people from different backgrounds, upbringings, and life circumstances what these words made them feel. What I found is that these two words can take on a life of their own and begin to imply other statements. Allow these words to wash over you and even if you don’t believe they are true I implore you to reconsider.
You Matter means…
You Are Special
I know, I know... this is something ‘moms’ on TV say, but it’s true. Your thoughts, your experiences, your talents, everything about you is uniquely YOU! We aren’t here to compare ourselves to others, although we are often experts at that. Take a moment to appreciate what makes you…you. Perhaps it’s your snarky humor, your work ethic, your music tastes, etc.
You Have Purpose
Maybe you just binge watched an entire TV series on Netflix and are feeling a little directionless. That’s okay. We all feel that way at times, but finding your purpose in life is half the hassle… I mean fun! Perhaps you think everything we do has meaning and perhaps you think it's all meaningless. Perhaps you have belief in something bigger than yourself or perhaps you don’t. No matter what, it is healthy to think and talk about these things and see what your life has been about. What are some of the big things that have happened in your life (good and bad)? What are the roles you play in life (worker, friend, child, parent)? If you could do anything in life what would it be? Is it possible that your whole life is leading you, refining you, and driving you towards a purpose? It’s worth thinking about and even worth discussing further with someone who you trust and knows you well.
You Are Worthy of Respect
“R.E.S.P.E.C.T., find out what it means to me!” In truth it often means very little to us. We allow people into our lives that don’t respect us and even if they don’t play a huge role in our life their hurtful words stick to us like glue. However, it’s time to get some respect. Firstly, respect yourself. Take care of yourself. Take it easy on yourself. Don’t overfill your schedule or even your social calendar. Take time for active rest. This doesn't mean a 4 hour nap. Active rest may be taking a relaxing walk, meditating or praying, eating some healthy snacks, or just reading a book. Make sure you make time to connect with others and seek joy with them. Choose to hang with people who respect you. Seek out people who you can share your triumphs and defeats with. Seek out people that you can ask for help or advice from. Then show them that same respect.
You Are Loved
At times we can feel so alone and that loneliness can lead us to believe we are not loved. However, it’s simply not true. You are loved by others. I am not talking about that mushy mushy romantic love. That stuff is great too, but you need to know you are loved and cared about by others. It might be family or friends or co-workers or neighbors or that person you always see on your jog or the barista at your favorite coffee shop. The point is they love you. They really do. They see something in you that they like or find comfort in or relatability. They care about your well being. And if you don’t believe they do… then I love you and want to be your friend. For reals. Here is my Facebook link, my personal Twitter, or you could e-mail me at email@example.com. In truth, it may take a bit and I over commit myself (it's part of my charm), but I’ll get back to you as soon as possible and let’s talk about life. Also, please know there are some great resources at this link if you need help right now.
You HAVE Mattered
What have you accomplished in life? Some of you might immediately think of something important you’ve done. Right on! I am so excited that you have that memory. Hold it dear. However, many of us run into a wall of doubt in response to such a question. What have we done that has really mattered? Well I am here to tell you with all confidence, you have done a whole heck of a lot that has mattered. It might have just been that simple Facebook message of encouragement you sent or when you asked your grocery clerk how their night was going or teaching someone to drive a car or how to upload a file or how to use their new phone. We have all done things for others in our lives and no matter how small they might seem, they matter. They matter to that person. You have made meaningful connections to people just by being you. In the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” the lead character, George, decides the world would be better off if he’d never been born. He gets his wish and sees the world void of George. He sees a world of pain, hurt, and even death that he never expected. It becomes quickly evident that those small acts of his really mattered. His guardian angel then reminds him, “Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?”
You CURRENTLY Matter
Today matters. What can you do today that matters. It might be taking care of yourself by going out to coffee with a friend or treating yourself to a movie or taking a bath or skipping down the street or playing your favorite record. It also might mean making a positive impact in someone else's life. Who could you send an encouraging text to? Who could you take out for lunch? Who could you bring a care package to?
You CAN Matter
If today has been a struggle remember tomorrow is ANOTHER day. It really is. It is a day that carries its own hope. Life doesn’t change in a day, but change has to START somewhere. What can you do, starting tomorrow? Think about it. Maybe make a list. However, just start with one.
Soooo…What’s the Point of This Whole Thing?
Listen, here is the thing. 1 in 4 adults will suffer a mental health struggle in any given year. A mental health issue might show up in the form of depression, isolation, anxiety, panic, constant worrying, feelings of worthlessness, or thoughts of suicide. It may be brought on by major changes in life (loss of relationship or loved one, giving birth, changing environments, etc.). When these issues hit us we often feel out of control and this lack of control can make someone feel like they don’t matter. I don’t say this to scare you. I say this to make you aware. These are things you might be dealing with now or in the future. If not you, then someone you care for. I have personally been there: felt like I didn't matter, felt like the world would be better off without me. I am so grateful that I made it through those times thanks to people, songs, conversations, and a renewed hope. So listen to me when I say, It is time to start caring for yourself and caring for others. This means being proactively. Don’t wait until crisis strikes. Make a plan for your self care. Set up a time to talk with someone you are concerned about. Start living in a way that helps you remember that you matter, because… you do.
More Resources and Info on #YouMatterValentine Here
More on Live Again:
Live Again is a 501(c)(3) non-profit all about starting healthy conversations that strengthen communities, increase wellness, and reduce suicides. Someone in America dies by suicide every 13 minutes. For each suicide at least 6 people are intimately affected by the loss. Live Again wants to flip that statistic. What if for every person struggling there were 6 people in their lives ready and willing to start a healthy conversation that leads to healing and ongoing support. Through workshops, resources, and events we will be able to reach communities (ex. workplaces, schools, churches). It starts with you and your community!