During the Enter The Heart Retreat in Bali, we learned the six basic human needs. I’ve already told you about my reaction to the first two: Certainty and Uncertainty. Just wait until you hear about my realizations around the third need: Significance.

Here is an explanation of the need for Significance, as stated in a blog post from The Daily Love:

“We all need significance on some level. If we don’t feel significant within our relationships, if our needs and emotions aren’t honored, then we aren’t in a very good relationship. Also, we love being seen and we love being seen for who we are. Without significance in our lives we experience major sadness and it’s very hard to function as a healthy person. Being TOO significance driven makes for narcissism and a lonesome life. Balance is the key with all our needs.” – Mastin Kipp

Lessons from Bali: My Exorbitant Need For Significance

Some goodies from The Daily Love when I arrived at the retreat!

I realized I was taking my need for Significance too far, and that I was sabotaging myself in the process. Some of the deep meditations we did in Bali helped me find where this originated from. You see, something happened in my mind when my siblings were born. As the oldest of three kids, I loved all that attention from my parents in the first three years of my life. Then, my sister was born, and then my brother three years after that. Having to split the attention from my parents made me feel less Significant. (No one in my family is at fault for this. It’s just what my young mind interpreted at the time, and that stayed with me through all these years.) I took it upon myself to feel more Significant, though I didn’t realize I was doing this my entire life. Examples:

As a kid, I started a neighborhood club and deemed myself the president of it. We did various activities around the block. Why did I start this club? Because I wanted to feel Significant.

At family functions, I loved singing a song or performing a dance for everyone. Why did I do this? Because I wanted to feel Significant amongst the many many many relatives and cousins I grew up with.

In past relationships, I’ve dealt with dramatic fights that seemed to start from nowhere. Where did they really start from? Me and my need to feel Significant, which I wasn’t getting from the relationship, and therefore found an excuse to start an argument over it.

In my career, I’ve never stayed with an employer longer than 3 years. Why? Because I no longer felt Significant when I wasn’t considered “the newbie” any longer.

When all of these realizations hit me in Bali, I felt disgusted. I felt incredibly narcissistic. I felt shame for letting this need get to me. I was embarrassed with my past actions and my need to stand out. I wrote in my journal, “Is my need to feel Significant holding me back?” The answer was YES.

Just like my need for Certainty, I told myself that I needed to scale back on my need for Significance. Of course, I want to feel special and valued, but I don’t want to take it to an unhealthy level. Having this awareness of myself has brought me many moments of clarification and peace. When a situation starts to bother me, or I come across conflict, I’ve realized that a lot of it is because either I, or another person in the situation, don’t feel Significant. Knowing this information has changed the way I react to challenges. I can quickly assess the problem and tell myself not to get so worked up, because I don’t need that high level of Significance any longer. I’m more grounded now than I’ve ever been.

I’m still working on finding that perfect balance of meeting my need for Significance without going overboard. I’m grateful to have learned this about myself, because I see now how I let it get to me. I don’t want to be that person. Yes, I do want to keep my love for performing and being a leader, but I want to do these things because I truly love them, and not because I need to have all eyes on me in the moment.

It’s time that I move forward with healthier ways for meeting the need for Significance.

Now that you know more about this need, ask yourself if you’re meeting the need, exceeding it, or not getting enough of it. Please comment below if you’d like to share, or feel free to message me here if you want to keep it private.

*This post is part of a 30-day series called “Getting Unstuck” in which I’m trying to figure out my next professional step by getting out of my comfort zone and taking on various challenges. Follow along by subscribing to my weekly email list here