GOOD SAMARITAN: We all matter

By Brian Wingfield, LMFT

The phrase “You matter” is used as a tagline for the National Suicide Prevention hotline. During the past few decades, it has been demonstrated that the concept of “mattering” can often predict such things as depression and suicidal thoughts.

The concept is about people’s needs to feel valued and to be viewed by others as important. It also overlaps with self-esteem and social support. The key difference is that “mattering” has been proven that it can be changed by learning to engage with others. It is typically defined as consisting of three components.

The first is awareness. This can be described as: Do people pay attention to you or walk by you?

The second is importance. Do you have people who take a real interest in your well-being?

Third is reliance. Are there people who would come to you for help, support or advice?

Studies has shown that women often report higher levels of “mattering” in their relationships than men. Men, on the other hand, are more likely to have a sense of significance from their perceived status within social groups.

An individual feeling like they do not matter to another person has been linked to suicidal and homicidal thoughts. One recent study found that 49% of high school students and 45% of middle school students feel they do not matter in the social communities in which they live.

Research has shown that simply noticing the youth in those age groups can make a big difference, along with helping them get more involved within their local community. With this in mind, it is important to show others that they matter to you. Focus on something about them or something they have done; show appreciation.

Another key factor is to be present and focused and not be distracted by your own thoughts or electronic devices. Reflective listening can make the other person feel heard and understood. When a person feels valued, they often become happier and emotionally healthier. Valued in this context is defined as being appreciated, respected and recognized.

Feeling like we matter is one of the most important features of emotional well-being. When we feel valued, we can thrive. When we have no value, we feel hopeless and ignored.

Personal devaluation, relationship disconnection, disengagement from work, disintegration of social relationships and connections can contribute to people feeling like they do not matter to others. “Mattering” can be changed by learning to engage with others.

If this is an issue you are currently struggling with, please contact Samaritan at 432-563-4144 for professional help.