The 4 Components of Mattering and Why Mattering is Important
Mattering is the general sense of being significant, valued, and important in our relationships, work, and life. It is the idea that each person wants to feel as if they make a difference, are appreciated, and would be missed if they weren’t around.
In this blog entry, we will discuss the four components of mattering, as explained by Canadian researcher Dr. Gordon Flett, and why mattering is so important. Understanding the four components of mattering can help us assess our own sense of mattering, and how we can help others feel as if they matter, too.
Why should we care about mattering?
Recently, the Maine Children’s Alliance published their 2023 Maine Kids Count Data Book that reports on “the well-being of Maine children in the areas of health and welfare, family economic security, and early learning and education.” This report highlights several disheartening statistics, including the following that compare the 2021 Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey (MIYHS) to the 2019 survey:
- Students who engaged in self-harm behaviors, such as cutting or burning, increased from 22.9% to 28.7%
- Students who seriously considered suicide in the last year increased from 16.4% to 18.5%.”
How are these statistics that show the decline of mental health in youth relevant to the concept of “mattering”?
It turns out that mattering is crucial for well-being and mental health, as Dr. Flett and colleagues at York University have found in their research. Mattering can also impact productivity, motivation, and engagement in work or social activities.
For adolescence, a lack of mattering is of particular concern because it can cause academic difficulties, physical health problems, and anxiety and depression.
As we digest the statistics of the mental health crisis impacting Maine youth today, it’s worth being curious about the connection between mental health and the concept of mattering, and how we can improve a sense of mattering for ourselves and the youth in our communities.
Afterall, mattering is something that impacts us all. We all want to matter. And mattering is something we all have the power to improve in the lives of others, as you will see from the list of components below.
The four components that strengthen our sense of mattering, along with some helpful questions and actions to take:
Attention is the first component of mattering, which involves being noticed by others. It is the feeling of being seen and heard, and the recognition that our presence and actions are acknowledged by others. When people in our lives pay attention to us, we feel as if we’re worthy of their time and our voice is valued.
A question to ask yourself to measure your own mattering in the component of Attention:
How much do people pay attention to you?
An action to take to support the mattering of others in the component of Attention:
Spend time noticing the strengths of people in your life, and let them know that you see what they are good at and what they add to your life.
Importance is the second component of mattering, which is the belief that others care about us and cherish us. It is the feeling of being significant. When others let us know that we are important to them, we can see that our place in life matters in relation to others.
A question to ask yourself to measure your own mattering in the component of Importance:
How important are you to others?
An action to take to support the mattering of others in the component of Importance:
Let someone important in your life know that you cherish them and that they add a specific and unique value to your life.
Dependence is the third component of mattering, which is the impactful role we play in the lives of others. It’s about how we make the lives of others better at home, at work, or in our community, and how others may rely on us. When other people depend on us, it deepens our sense of importance.
A question to ask yourself to measure your own mattering in the component of Dependence:
How much would you be missed if you went away?
An action to take to support the mattering of others in the component of Dependence:
Let someone in your life know how you rely on them and the positive difference they make in your life. Or, if you notice someone absent at a gathering, let them know that you noticed and missed them.
Appreciation is the fourth component of mattering, which is the sense that others are grateful for us or the work we do in their lives. This is a particularly relevant component for those who work in a caregiving role. When other people show their appreciation of our existence, our work, or presence, our sense of purpose deepens.
A question to ask yourself to measure your own mattering in the component of Appreciation:
How often have you been treated in a way that makes you feel appreciated?
An action to take to support the mattering of others in the component of Appreciation:
Show gratitude to someone who regularly provides a service that adds value to your life.
The more we understand the importance of mattering on physical and mental health, the better we can help ourselves and others realize value, worth, importance, and impact. If you were surprised by your answers to the questions under each component, be curious about ways you can improve your sense of mattering for yourself. You may find that taking action to support the mattering of others will improve your own.
We all have the power to see how we matter, and to show others that they matter, too.
Written by Samantha Turner, LMSW-c and Marketing & Communications Director Chelsea Ellis
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