I wrote this article several years ago and feel led to reprint the article at this time. As you read the article and have question, please ask. All questions are good questions.
Over the past several days I have been thinking about the concept of significance. As a traumatic brain injury survivor I have struggled to find my place of significance in the world. In my attempts to establish my significance I sought to define my meaning and purpose through the identity of a career, through my participation with various churches / groups / organizations and through what I achieved in my doing. Each of my efforts to establish my significance appeared to be thwarted by my traumatic brain injury. But not everything was as it appeared to be.
In my experience, I found that none of these pursuits proved to secure my place in this life or my significance as I sought to establish my significance.
When I failed to establish my place of significance, I experienced disillusionment, despair and depression. My disillusionment, despair and depression continued for many years — as I struggled to find my place of significance and meaning. Through my struggle, I reached a point in time where I surrendered to the notion that my significance could be secured through a career, affiliation or achievement. As I surrendered to the notion that I needed to have my significance validated from outside of me, I found a new freedom. My freedom arose as I realized that my significance no longer needed to be validated by my doing or performing — through a career, an affiliation or an achievement.
When I reached point in my life where I surrendered to the idea that I could not find my significance through an identity, an affiliation or an achievement, I slowly stopped fighting against myself.
When I made the decision to stop fighting against myself, I had a spiritual awakening. I realized that I no longer needed to have my significance defined for me. With my awareness, my focus slowly changed from an external need of approval to an internal sense of validation. Consequently, my need to have a significance in life shifted from a need to do to a need to be. With my awareness, my motivation began to shift from having to do to needing to be. I discovered that my significance evolves naturally as I express who I am — through my being, instead of in my doing. Subsequently, as I have allowed myself to be, I have been able to learn to create with the seeds of what makes me significant — my being — apart from the need to perform through my doing.
Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant. Robert Louis Stevenson
Subsequently, as I plant with the seeds of my being, I am set free from the need to have significance, because significance no longer needs to be my goal. Because significance no longer needs to be my goal, I am able to let go of my need to be significant. Significance, therefore no longer needs to be the bench mark to validate my meaning, significance or self-esteem. With my understanding I no longer need to dependent upon the harvest — that is brought about by the seeds that I plant — because I no longer need to be invested in the harvest or outcomes. By letting go of the outcomes, I am able to accept that my being is simply enough.Through accepting that my being is simply enough, I am able to surrender to the process.
By surrendering to the process, I am able to cease from my striving because I no longer need to judge who I am. Because I realize that I no longer need to judge who I am, I am set free from a need to prove my significance.
I am only one, but still I am one. I can not do everything, but still I can do something. Helen Keller
If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams and endeavor to live the life that you have imagined…you will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. Henry David Thoreau
Insist on yourself, never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous half-possession…Do that which is assigned to you, and you can not hope too much or dare too much. Ralph Waldo Emerson
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