What Really Matters?

by | May 10, 2021 | Power Dynamics


At the root of so much human suffering lies a fundamental question: Do I matter? 

The experience of mattering is one of our most core human needs. We want to matter to ourselves, to one another, to our communities.  

The experience of mattering also lies at the heart of meaningful social change efforts. 

When I think about the times in my life that I’ve upleveled a fundamental worldview of my own, underwent a paradigm shift, or adopted a new way of thinking about something, I can see how the relationships and conversations I was having with other people at those times heavily influenced my own willingness to change.  

In each of those conversations, I experienced care, trust, and mattering. My defenses were down, I didn’t feel like my identity or worthiness was at stake, and I wasn’t perceiving any attack or threat. Instead, for me, change evolved naturally out of the quality of inquiry, care, and mutuality that was inherent in the conversational spaces with people who mattered to me.   

Change, growth, and evolution emerge naturally in safe, caring relational containers. They are inhibited in evaluative, critical, and judgmental spaces.  

So, how do we nurture and create the change we are looking for in ourselves and others?  

Below are some links to posts that I wrote about a year ago, during a time of intense social and political upheaval. That upheaval has continued over the past year, coming in waves and affecting us all at different times in different ways. At times it’s intensified, and other times subsided. 

Whatever phase we may be in now, here are some ideas to consider:

How to Get Out of Fear and Judgment Ruts
Have you noticed how easy it feels to slide into ruts of fear and judgment these days? When my attention gets hijacked by all the negative, polarizing “news,” I find myself ruminating on everything that is wrong with “those people” and spiraling down into sticky, alternating cycles of righteousness and despair. The moment I notice that I’m back in that old, unproductive place, I remind myself of the following four things… READ MORE

4 Key Practices for Responding to Triggering Comments
Have you ever been working as part of a team, or in a small group during a class or a training, and one person in the group begins making racially coded, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise triggering comments? And you’re left stunned, taken aback, and unsure of what to say next. How would you respond in a relational way that still meets your needs for integrity?… READ MORE

How to Deal with the Stress and Anxiety of These Times
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been fielding more stress and anxiety than usual. Various friends, family members, and clients have been in heightened states of turmoil, conflict, and transition, and it’s been challenging to find stable ground. Here are four key practices that reduce my stress, calm my anxiety, and keep me resourced and grounded for whatever may be coming next… READ MORE

How to Work with Your Own Privilege
I have been watching events unfold over the last week with angst, outrage, grief, sadness, confusion, and having intense conversations with multiple people. Mostly, I’ve been more deeply examining how systems of fear and oppression still operate widely in our culture, and also within me, despite my best intentions… READ MORE

I hope that revisiting these articles can be a source of support to you, for now and for the future as we continue to navigate choppy waters with the common goal to nurture ourselves and our world with courage and compassion.


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