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‘Mattering’ Is Key- Believing in Yourself

Believing in Yourself? Recognizing Your Importance is the Answer.

This underrated principle is tied to improved self and interpersonal relationships.

By Gail Cornwall

While studying psychology, Gordon Flett discovered the idea of “mattering.” In 1987, while engrossed in his readings, he instantly grasped its essence.

He reminisced about his summer visits to his grandmother's workplace, where she supervised the canteen at an insulation factory. To her and her colleagues, he was someone of great importance. The memories were so vivid; he could almost relish the Jell-O and chocolate milk from back then.

Later, this concept hit even closer to home. Struggling with sourcing participants for his master's study and growing anxious, his mother stepped in during her own marital crisis. Gaining a sense of purpose and importance, she actively sought participants for his project, soon becoming the community's "lady on the bike."

Having carved a unique and meaningful role for herself, Mary Flett's journey epitomized the essence of “mattering.” Now, Dr. Flett, a professor at York University and an expert in the field, emphasizes its vital role in personal well-being.

Understanding 'Mattering'

According to Dr. Flett, mattering is an innate human desire crucial for overall happiness. Though some may confuse it with belonging or self-worth, it transcends those concepts. It's not just about belonging to a group but being indispensable to it. While high self-esteem is great, without acknowledgment from others, it might feel empty.

To truly matter, individuals need to feel recognized, cherished, and crucial, both in terms of receiving value and contributing it. It's a dual notion: to be valued and to add value.

Studies indicate that those who feel significant tend to have more self-love, fulfilling relationships, and confidence in their potential. Conversely, a lack of it can lead to exhaustion, self-doubt, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal tendencies.

To gauge one's sense of importance, Dr. Prilleltensky suggests introspection: do you feel crucial in your relationships, work, community, and to yourself? Equally, do you feel you're contributing value in these spaces? Balancing both aspects across life spheres is the goal.

Enhancing Your Significance

Dr. Flett believes everyone has the power to mold their sense of mattering. Recognizing personal strengths and leveraging them is pivotal. A genuine strength is an activity that you excel at, opt for, and enjoy simultaneously.

For instance, if you're adept at networking but detest event management, choose roles that harness your relational skills instead of planning roles. Moreover, evaluate your professional life. Feeling significant at work leads to increased involvement, collaboration, and better superior-subordinate dynamics. Assess how you're perceived and whether you perceive yourself as important.

In personal relationships, express gratitude explicitly and engage actively by posing open-ended questions. Sometimes, prioritizing oneself means gravitating towards relationships where mutual value is recognized.

Volunteering can be a powerful tool for self-worth. Small actions, like making a sandwich for someone in need or attending charity events, can bolster feelings of value.

When feeling undervalued, Dr. Flett advises self-compassion. Recognize external factors, like systemic biases, that might have affected your self-worth. Activists like T’áncháy Redvers amplify this, with initiatives like We Matter, shedding light on systemic barriers faced by indigenous youth and sharing stories of resilience.

In essence, self-compassion is paramount. Feeling insignificant at times is a shared human experience. Instead of succumbing to self-doubt, challenge these thoughts and draw from positive interactions. Recalling kind gestures, like a simple smile, can make a world of difference.

Mary Flett's story is a testament to this. Despite personal turmoil, she reinvented herself, solidifying her value both to herself and her community.


Have you ever wondered about the ancient Japanese philosophy that might be the key to happiness and longevity? Enter "ikigai."

Ikigai, originating from the Land of the Rising Sun, is not just a term but a way of life for many Japanese individuals. The word breaks down into 'Iki', which means 'life', and 'gai', signifying 'value or worth'. So, when you speak of ikigai, you're delving into one's life purpose or the profound happiness and drive that makes someone eager to begin their day. It's the intrinsic motivator that ignites passion and joy within.

The roots of ikigai can be traced back to Japan's Heian period, spanning from 794 to 1185. However, it's the island of Okinawa that often takes the spotlight when discussing this philosophy. Known for its residents who often live beyond 100 years, Okinawa stands as a testament to the concept of ikigai. The age-defying phenomenon isn't limited to just Okinawa's elderly population; ikigai resonates with people of all ages, from young to old, revealing that the secret to happiness might just be deeply intertwined with purpose and passion.


Now to go along, here is a perfect Recipe:

Yakitori-Style Salmon With Scallions and Zucchini


• ¼cup canola oil, plus more for greasing

• 1tablespoon minced garlic (from about 3 cloves)

• 1tablespoon minced ginger (from a 1-inch piece)

• ⅔cup low-sodium soy sauce

• ⅓cup turbinado sugar

• 2tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

• 2tablespoons cornstarch

• 1pound small zucchini (about 3), trimmed and sliced ⅛-inch-thick

• 8scallions, trimmed, halved lengthwise, if large, and cut into 2-inch pieces

• Kosher salt and black pepper

• 2pounds boneless, skinless salmon fillets, cut into 1-inch pieces

• Lemon wedges, for serving


1. Step 1 In a small saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-low. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.


3. Add ⅔ cup water, plus the soy sauce, sugar and vinegar, and bring to a boil over high heat.

4. Step 2 Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar, 1 to 2 minutes.

5. Mix cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and whisk into sauce. Simmer until thickened, about 2 minutes.

6. Reserve 1 cup of sauce for basting, and transfer remaining sauce to a small bowl, for serving.

7. Step 3 Heat a grill, or a lightly greased cast-iron griddle or grill pan over medium.

Season zucchini and scallions with salt and pepper and toss with 2 tablespoons oil.

Thread onto wooden skewers that have been soaked in water or metal ones.

Season salmon with salt and pepper and toss with remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Thread onto skewers.

8. Step 4 Grill, basting with sauce and turning every few minutes, until salmon and vegetables are caramelized and cooked through,

9. about 10 to 12 minutes for salmon and 12 to 15 minutes for vegetables. Serve with lemon wedges and reserved sauce for dipping.

Full Recipe Here:

Be Kind, Do Fearless

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