Balancing Self Importance
During the recent collapse of a friendship, I was accused of being a “bridge burner” in the relationship. It was further posited that I had burned bridges with my former husband: “Whether it was in one dramatic blow (as you seem to prefer with me) or a death of 1,000 cuts… you have killed that relationship.” Putting aside that this former friend actually has no basis for his conclusion about my relationship with my ex-husband outside of anything I might have told him, or reading my books, (since he doesn’t actually know my former husband) there is truth to the accusation that I have been a bridge burner in many relationships…with men. This doesn’t seem to happen with women.
Why do I burn bridges in my male relationships? I decided to drop into walking meditation on this subject, and for several hours let the questions pour out to Spirit, going deeper and deeper into it. At the surface, the answer is simple: They’re not doing what I want them to do, and they have stopped communicating with me. But why do I need them to do what I want them to do? And why does it bother me when they go silent? As I dropped into the feeling in my body whenever I am not getting what I need from a man, and the communication has stopped, I noticed pain in my heart and will center. I dropped deeper and heard “I am not important.”
I said it again with feeling: “I am not important.” My heart and will center cramped and ached like it does when I have the flu.
I opened to wisdom about “not being important.” The message that came made sense. The body aches whenever the consciousness within it (ego/mind/spirit) decides it is not important because without the consciousness, the body will die. The body needs the consciousness to live.
Now I understood the positive pole of self-importance: I am important within my own body. Without my consciousness, my body will perish. Therefore, it is a matter of survival that I believe I am important within my own body.
The polarity is also true: I am not important. With approximately 7.3 billion people on the planet, I am not important. I am relatively insignificant. I accept that in terms of the global view of humanity, I am not important.
I know I am important within my own body, and I extrapolate that each of the 7.3 billion people on the planet are important within their own bodies.
My need to feel important extends outside of my own body, however, as it does for most of us. Having established that feeling “important” increases the feeling of safety in the body by reducing the risk of death (consciousness leaving the body), it is natural to want to extend and solidify the safety net by feeling that others find me “important.” My children find me important because I reinforce their own feelings of being important and safe. My parents find me important (even though they don’t understand me), because they took the time to raise me and be invested in my life. When I think about the people who would readily identify themselves as my friends, I notice that they make me feel important.
Reflecting on importance, it is also clear that I have had a very big need to feel important in my life. I remember during a class at the Four Winds Light Body when Alberto told me “You think you’re special,” and that was in the context of what was holding me back from trusting Spirit. He was right. I do think I’m special. And that feeling of “special” has allowed me to keep on trucking when things got tough in my life. However, it caused a big issue for me in my friendship with this person who didn’t find me to be so special.
What happens when I decide someone is important to me, but that person does not decide I am important? At first I thought about Don Miguel Ruiz. I find him very important as his book The Four Agreements has given me many gifts in my life; but Don Miguel Ruiz probably doesn’t find me important because he doesn’t even know I exist. Still, I continue to find him important and it doesn’t bother me whether or not I am important to him.
What does bother me is that I find my friend to be important, and he does not find me to be important. Why does this bother me? What is different here? And the answer is that this person has taken considerable time to get to know me, and after doing so has decided he does not want to grant me the status of “friend” because of my personality. This makes me feel very unsafe, and threatens my feelings of importance which leads to that aching feeling in my body.
So to counter this feeling of threat, I might engage in convincing behavior in an effort to change this person’s mind about my importance. I still find my friend to be important, and now I am engaging in convincing behavior to remedy the imbalance by trying to get him to change his perception about my importance. To counter-balance the feeling of not important, I might puff myself up into greater self-importance to hide the truth of feeling unimportant (because really, what’s being touched is the core toddler belief that I am not important or special). As the discomfort of not feeling important increases, I might use various manipulation tactics to try to convince this person of my importance so that I may be reassured of it. As these strategies fail, and the discomfort becomes worse, I might speak badly of this person who does not agree I am important, so as to feel less threatened by it. And as a last measure, when I am overwhelmed by the discomfort of not being important, and my body is suffering as well, I might choose to renounce my designation of importance for this person by “walking away,” or more passionately by “burning the bridge.”
Being important is a matter of survival. Some would say that being important is only a function of the ego, but I offer that the body’s reaction indicates that being important is crucial to our humanness. But also we must respect each person’s ability to choose who is “important” to him or her. So here is my newly formulated guide to navigating these treacherous waters, primarily written for myself. If they work for you too…awesome!
- When you find yourself engaged in convincing behavior, that is the clue that you already know you are not “important” to this person you are trying to convince. Attachment to the outcome causes suffering. Trying to impose your self-importance on someone else who does not freely choose to make you important causes suffering. Let go of this person quietly, and take care to reassure yourself of your own importance.
- Stop giving someone else more importance than you give to yourself. You are vitally important to your own body, and when you adopt someone’s opinion that you are not important, you hurt your body and your spirit with this negative belief. Instead, reflect on the people who choose of their own free will to give you importance in their lives, and be grateful.
- Pay attention to these behaviors that indicate you should re-evaluate a relationship: lack of response to communications or increasing delays to responses, irritation with your relationship requests, guilty or begrudging responses, a sense that you are always reaching out rather than there being an even flow, not being invited to spend time together, and so forth.
- If you feel threatened that someone you find important does not validate your importance, here is a new way of thinking about it. At the highest soul level, we are all one and recognize each others’ value and importance (namaste). At the ego/mind level, we may be blocked from knowing each others’ importance as we are blocked from knowing many things within a lifetime. Perhaps it is vital to the lesson you and this person need to learn in this lifetime that you do not know each others’ importance. Connect with this person’s higher soul self to reassure yourself.
- Have compassion when someone has decided you are important, especially if you do not reciprocate this feeling. Remember that it’s part of this person’s sense of safety to feel important, and somehow you are helping just by being you.