Mel Schwartz, LCSW

Our Quest for Significance

What would it feel like to live your life with a deep sense of meaning and purpose?  Many of us long for this, but sadly few of us achieve it. Some of us never even consider this question. With few exceptions, most people are diminished due to feeling insignificant. The days turn into years in the blink of eye as we play out our scripted role in a robotic way. But who is writing that script?

We are scripting life, although not knowingly. We become wed to our responsibilities— to our routines— and to the maddening predictability of life as we come to believe that there are few alternatives. So, we metaphorically shrug and surrender to not living the life we might have hoped for. The malaise that ensues contributes to our epidemic of depression and a host of other disorders.

We struggle in our quest for significance for a number of reasons:

1) We weren’t schooled or raised, for the most part, to consider the question of what kind of life we’d like to live. We become focused on grades, colleges, jobs, marriage and children. These are all dearly important matters, but we omit the most vital consideration. The question we should be asking is: How would I like to experience my life? This inquiry prompts us to become the author of our life script, rather than just a character living out the already written plot.

2) We never learned how to overcome fear. The powerful cultural message that mandates us to avoid making mistakes, deprives us from living a fuller, richer life. The corralling of our beliefs into accepting that we shouldn’t take risks or step out of line, imprisons us into a numbing conformity. Living this way causes us to feel insignificant.

3) We lose the capacity to be truly alive, conscious in the moment and making choices that reflect our deeper, intuitive wisdom. To feel significant requires a sense of being truly present in the moment enabling you to make choices that truly serve your higher purpose.

So how do we overcome these limitations?

We need to live from a new game plan. To feel significant implies that you matter and that your empowered choices can better your life and those around you. The starting place for this shift is to free yourself from the grip of certainty and predictability. When our thoughts become wed to needing to know the future in advance, we become cogs in the machinery of our life. Significance require aliveness, as we become alert to our power to choose differently.  Being stuck in the groove of predictability is life defeating.

The new sciences are informing us that reality isn’t deterministic or certain, but awash with uncertainty. Rather than recoil from the notion of uncertainty, we should paradoxically welcome it. Think of it this way: uncertainty=possibilities. When you embrace the uncertainty, you can ride the waves of your change process. This also enables us to release fear. Typically, fear is the consequence of needing to know the future in advance, which induces anxiety. Welcoming the unknown allows fear to dissipate.

This new perspective frees you to find meaning and purpose in your life as any moment can be full of new opportunities. Rather than seeing yourself as the victim of circumstances, you must rethink your life. No longer reduced to your past, to your constraints, you enter into the process of your becoming. Moving from an inert condition of being to a flowing process of becoming ushers in significance as every moment becomes alive with choices, free from fear. Living your life with significance is a great gift to yourself and all those you touch, as you develop a greater purpose in living.

Please check out my TEDx talk: Overcoming Anxiety

The Possibility Principle

“By embracing the possibilities the quantum worldview describes, we can access our infinite potential.”
Click here for my book.

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Thank you for this article. This makes SO much sense. But how does one go about getting unstuck from a hideous groove?

Matthew Selznick

I’d start by looking at your core beliefs and thoughts Phyllis. What is your predominant belief about yourself that you’re stuck with? How did you come to that belief? How do you know it’s true?


That I am not worthy in any way of having a stable and educated life, the educated part being the key to many new ventures in life. What goes through my mind without even being conscious of it is that I’m not worth defending; my mother twice witnessed me being bullies and turning away and did nothing. My father never spoke with us. We had no guidance. Trying as I still do, I still get clobbered with the feeling that I am no one and no one wants to know me. I have cornered myself I realize I must get out. 59 and unfortunate circumstances made be leave my job 5 years ago, I have to find something of substance about me to survive emotionally, mentally. I’m scared of myself.

Matthew Selznick

I’m so sorry that you’ve been burdened in this way. You don’t need to be confined to the limitations of your past though. You can learn to break free. Of course you’re worthy. You just haven’t been treated respectfully. Don’t add to that abuse by treating yourself as unworthy. Have you read my book, The Possibility Principle. It teaches you how you can break free from that damaging past.


I really appreciate your thoughts and encouragement. I am heading to the bookstore today for your book. Thank you.

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