I Don't Matter!
Updated: Oct 15
Last week I received an email from a work colleague that set me off. It was rude and condescending. I found it totally offensive.
And I was angry. I was indignant. I was outraged! There had been a series of escalating unpleasant communication between the two of us. This was the latest. This time they had gone too far.
I was so tempted to fire back a scathing, self-justifying response, and at the same time, I knew this would only make things worse. Sure, it would give me a passing moment of satisfaction however in the long run this would only create more discord. I work with this person. We need to maintain a working relationship. Still, I couldn’t just leave it be.
I decided to sleep on it. I recognised I needed to follow one of my ‘rules for life’: when I someone upsets me (that should read when I am triggered by someone’s actions) deal with the emotion first, then negotiate the practical matters.
Next morning, as I sat for meditation, I focused on the anger that had been stirred up by that email. I gave it space. I observed the anger and the energy underlying it. Why did this person trigger me in ways that others didn’t? What was the message that I was taking on board here? My attitude was curious, accepting, and kindly.
These words emerged from beneath the anger: ‘I feel like I don’t matter.’
Ah! Now it all made sense. I could trace this feeling back to my childhood, to a time when I had been deeply wounded. And then received the message from my carers that whatever was going on with me didn’t matter. In hindsight I can understand that my reading of the situation was skewed. The adults, the people who were supposed to be caring for me were distracted by an agenda that was important to them and missed the importance of what I was undergoing.
I had no choice at the time but to conform to the dominant narrative; bury my distress and show up in a way that was expected of me. I am pretty sure that the distress, though buried, would have sabotaged my experience in an ongoing way, so identifying the feeling ‘I don’t matter’ was a marvellously liberating experience.
I needed to sit with the feeling, to witness it, to hold it in my awareness the way a caring mother might tenderly hold a wounded child. Gradually the distress subsided. I sat comfortably in myself, secure in the knowledge that I DO matter.
I was also able to respond to the ‘offending’ email with clarity and dispassion. The hostility between the sender and myself has subsided. I can truly feel grateful to this person for providing me with an opportunity to heal some more of my childhood wounds.
To quote Peter Levine, psychologist and founder of Somatic Experiencing: ‘Every trigger is an opportunity to deeply heal our wounds.’ And I relish the child within me screaming: