Juggling a family is hard. Make no mistake that the sacrifices and hard work that goes into parenting are some of the most challenging work there is to be done on planet earth (and I mean that with my entire being). Add feeling insignificant in your relationship on top of the parenting is downright crushing and a recipe for destruction.
It’s not even just the tedious, everyday chores (the cooking, cleaning, taxi-ing, homework-ing). Instead, it’s often the emotional exhaustion from being utterly depleted emotionally.
I can remember, not long ago, wanting so badly to be an example of patience, love, and kindness for my kids. I always made a point to practice patience and allow them to express themselves to make them feel seen and heard without judgment or ridicule. As a child, this was never practiced in my household, so I needed to create this space of equality with my kids rather than one of hierarchy (which would have been much easier).
On a side note: there is nothing exemplary about the household hierarchy model. It requires zero connection, empathy, or give-a-shit’s about how your kids feel and conveys a message of “I’m bigger, better, and know better, so you’re going to do as I say.” It silences them and disconnects them from their innate intuition, and it teaches them to do as they are told rather than come up with productive solutions on their own.
The model I chose to raise my kids requires effort, thoughtful introspection, patient communication, recognizing emotional triggers, and a lot of trial and error. Conscious Parenting is not for the weak. So I tip my hat and high-five any parents who are leading the way in raising kids to feel seen and heard. You are doing a fantastic job!
Parenting can be so complicated that we as parents can sometimes begin to experience feelings of insignificance and unworthiness in our attempt not to “ruin” our kids, especially when our own needs aren’t being met in our adult relationships.
What does feeling insignificant in a relationship do to the couple:
Feeling insignificant can lead to any of the following reactions:
- We completely lose touch with who we are and find our identities in our kids, living our lives through theirs. (this is the parent who has no hobbies outside of their kids)
- We alienate ourselves from our spouses and other friendships. As a result, our relationship grows further apart, our need for connection continues unmet, and we wallow in feelings of resentment and hurt (this is the parent who is withdrawn from her spouse and doesn’t talk much beyond what’s going on with the kids. She’s accepted defeat.)
- We begin to lash out aggressively at our partners for everything they aren’t doing to satisfy our unspoken and unmet needs. (this is the parent who is aggressive and mean to her partner)
What does insignificance in a relationship look like?
Some of the definitions that popped up in a google search were:
- Too small or unimportant to be worth consideration
- Not visible or attracting attention
- Easily excused or forgiven
- Very small
- Not notable
- Diminished or humiliated emotionally
Just reading these definitions makes me remember, in vivid detail, feeling insignificant as a young mom without the tools to communicate my needs to my husband. It’s heart-wrenching to feel so much emotion and not even understand how to label and explain what’s going on underneath the feeling. (Plus, it makes us crazy or seems like it anyway, pushing most people away.)
Where does the feeling of insignificance come from?
The ability to label and understand our feelings and needs in any given situation is paramount to any good relationship. When we don’t understand ourselves well enough to label our feelings, we will never be in a place to find productive solutions. And it’s counterproductive because when we aren’t in touch with our emotions, we also aren’t in a position to be that for other people, including our kids and our spouse. At some point, if we put ourselves and our needs as a parent or spouse on the back burner, we will get burnt out and cave under stress. This is inevitable.
We can not put our needs aside in the pursuit of raising good kids.
Put your oxygen mask on first.
Why Feeling insignificant in a relationship is toxic
When we feel insignificant at home or in a romantic relationship, it can lead to hopelessness and despair. Too often, people react to feeling insignificant by demeaning or controlling others. There is an underlying loss of control that makes people respond by asserting dominance over another to gain back the power that has been lost.
I think it bears saying that nothing good ever comes from control.
Alternatively, a partner can react by withdrawing and harboring self-deprecating thoughts. When a mother feels insignificant in her relationships or unappreciated at home, she starts to believe her thoughts of smallness. She might blame herself, think she is a bad person, and resort to unhealthy ways to achieve respite from her pain.
Withdrawing is a quick shot to darkness and despair, a dangerous place for anybody.
How to combat feelings of insignificance
Because the reaction to feeling insignificant and unseen is so detrimental, it is imperative that we learn to combat these feelings with productive solutions. We teach people to learn how to label their feelings and the unmet needs that precede the feelings so that they can communicate these needs with love and respect and without shaming or blaming another person. The conversation remains in love and accountability, and the request is verbalized without blame. When we learn to communicate effectively, others are more willing to hear us, see our pain and respond with loving-kindness.
The first step to creating this safe, healthy environment where we can be seen is to be willing and open to explore our feelings without blaming other people.
To combat feeling insignificant, we have to be willing to show our vulnerability. Vulnerability is the portal through which we can be seen. When we give someone the chance to see us authentically, we connect and open space to peacefully articulate our feelings and what we need without blame.
Because the truth is that we are responsible for our feelings, voicing them respectfully and advocating for our needs. If we are accountable for unworthiness or feeling insignificant in a relationship, we can change that perspective. We do that by establishing boundaries, shedding the guards against vulnerability, and speaking up for what we need. Nobody else can make you feel unworthy, alone, or rejected, but you can rewrite your story today.
Interested in learning more about this process? As relationship coaches, we teach people how to get the extraordinary relationships they deserve by learning to communicate better.
Or check out this other blog post on self love that dives into how being kind to ourselves is key to having self worth & virtue.