If there is one, single thing that most often makes or breaks our relationships (in every form), it’s our ability (or inability) to take responsibility. As the old adage goes, “Know Thyself!”
The Need to Feel Special Comes From Doubting Our Divinity
To truly be responsible, means to truly know thyself. This can be accomplished at two levels: spiritual and human. If we spiritually know ourselves, we would, of course, know our Divinity, which would, in itself, make our life complete. But, even if we fall short of this high, spiritual level of knowing, knowing just a bit more about our human self and what makes us act and react the way we do, would completely change our relationships with others. If we know ourselves, as human beings, we would know and understand how our interactions with others are affected by our unhealed wounds, as well as our perceived “needs.” And the most predominant of these needs is to be “special.”
The problem begins whenever we (on levels unknown) doubt our Divinity–our state of Unconditional Love. This results in feeling inadequate, which then makes us search for people or things that might compensate by making us feel special. Now, everyone around us will be assigned the duty of “making us feel special.” In other words, we need a “special” feeling for (or from) some-one or some-thing to make us tingle inside to make up for the bliss we lost when we forgot who we truly are. So, not remembering how to feel Unconditional Love, we feel the need to replace it with a conditional form of false love, called “specialness.” We will then be attracted to people who will like us, support us, and stroke our ego in the ways we think we need to feel special to be more complete. And since others can only make us feel special for a limited amount of time, we will eventually feel attacked or rejected every time these other people seem to change the behavior we so desperately need from them.
The Root of Codependency
Of course we try to prevent these rude awakenings or let-downs by clinging tenaciously to these other people or even bargaining to keep the relationship alive just so we don’t have to confront the loss of this false sense of specialness. That’s why these are commonly referred to as unhealthy, codependent relationships. Sadly, although these are the people we would classify as people we “like,” this will change as soon as they no longer fulfill our assignment.
There are also people in the world who, for whatever reason, refuse to give us the specialness we thirst for. These are generally the people in our life that we don’t like. These individuals are usually people who fail to make us feel special. In fact, they undoubtedly make us feel very “un-special.” For example, when someone fails to let us into traffic, we often are offended because they failed to make us feel special enough to cut in. When we want to engage in a conversation or power struggle with someone but they won’t participate, we then feel ignored or disempowered. When our partner refuses to give us sex, they fail to make us feel special enough to feel desired. When a mother chooses to share her affection with her child, the father can feel threatened because his specialness is threatened. Even children, who seem so innocent, will battle with their siblings to gain the special attention or approval of their parents and cry when they aren’t getting what they want.
Most people might assume that it’s normal or even healthy to want to feel special to others or to allow others to be special to us. But beware! Hidden behind all forms of specialness (which always includes conditions) lurks the need to compensate for a lack of feeling Unconditional Love–for others or from others. One way to recognize the dysfunctional need to feel special is to observe our relationships to see where we feel insecure about our value, how desirable we feel, how much we find ourselves comparing or competing, or perhaps how often we participate in power struggles. We might also observe how we feel and react when someone doesn’t say or give us something we feel we need or deserve. These are all sure signs that we lack wholeness and that we are therefore trying to compensate and are desperately seeking specialness. One way or another, we will eventually discover that our tactics will not work and, in fact, may even push others away, thus increasing our angst and making us feel even less special.
Needing to feel special is such a primal, egotistic need, that even animals attack each other for roles of dominance–specialness. One might assume that, given the negative repercussions of living with such a desperate need for specialness, it would be easy to give it up. But the ego tells us that to give up the idea of being special means we are “losing something,” and it has all the tools of the ego-based world to support its case. For example, the ego plants negative emotions such as loneliness in our emotional body. Then, if someone ends a relationship with us (which might very well have been a healthy thing for us), the ego triggers that emotion of loneliness to support the idea that it was the other person rejecting us that made us feel so badly. And since we have forgotten our Divine Nature, we buy into the false conclusion that we must need that other person so that we can feel whole, lovable, and of course, special.
Ultimately, none of the ideas that feed our insatiable thirst for specialness are true, but we will never know that unless we are willing to go through the “drug-like” withdrawals of purging ourselves from its addictive hold.
Transforming Our Relationships
All relationships must be transformed from being conditional (contingent on our being made to feel special), to unconditional (contingent on nothing). The latter merely reminds us that we are loved by God, complete within ourselves, and have no need for anyone to fill. This level of understanding and responsibility allows us to realize that any uncertainty about these truths will be mirrored in our relationships and show us where we still have work to do.
Wanting to Feel Special Results in Attachment
Each time we achieve a feeling of ego-based specialness, it is a victory for our ego and its casualties include everyone involved. The pursuit of specialness is worse than nearly any addiction and is always at the cost of our inner peace. As soon as we manage to scratch up an ounce of specialness in our life, we will wage wars to protect it or keep it from getting away from us, thus losing peace and our True Identity. The teachings of Buddha and A Course in Miraclesboth explain that all forms of specialness that we assign to others result in attachments, such as the attachment to keeping the specialness from getting away. But since the very thing we are attached to will either change or disappear, the specialness always ends in some form of suffering. ACIM says, “Your specialness is attacked by everything that walks and breathes.”
If specialness were a flowering weed, its roots would be the belief that we are separate from God, its stem would be desperation, its flower would be specialness–which of course blooms to get attention and dies soon after, and its fragrance would then be the resulting codependent relationships. The stem of desperation not only supports the flower of specialness but, being so desperate, will cause unhealthy states of being such as fear, hyper-defensiveness, jealousy, and conditional love–all of which are predictable given that they are rooted in the error-thinking that we are apart from God and the Garden of Eden.
As soon as we begin to define who we are by the conditional love or ego-based needs of our relationships, we immediately replace the freedom and joy that comes only with Unconditional Love with the unquenchable need to feel special. In so doing, we will never be able to truly know one another but instead, only know others through the concepts of who we want them to be. These concepts come from what we believe we need from them, which comes from who we believe we are. The more limited we believe ourselves to be, the more limitations we will need to place on another. As an ego-based person, we will determine who we are by what we get from the outside world. We will also feel constantly threatened or affected by what other people do. The actions, feelings, and comments of others will then threaten our reality and our specialness, which feels unbearable enough to make us grab yet another person to help us deal with our pain by making us feel loved, loveable, and special. And so begins another cycle of co-dependence that will continue to control our lives.
Still Want to Feel Special?
As much as we wish it weren’t so, we are technically not “special” even in the eyes of God. The reason is that God loves us ALL as ONE BEING and not as parts. God actually doesn’t have the ability to experience degrees of love, such as a special love for Jesus and less for Hitler. This might feel a little shocking or depressing but only to the ego part of us that thinks it needs to be special. Think about it; could God really love a part of its ONE child/creation more than another part? This is about as sane as trying to shampoo one hair on our head that we have a special fondness for, more so than all of our other hairs. God loves us unconditionally, and specialness is the opposite of Unconditional Love because being special is totally conditional. Unconditional Love brings us freedom; specialness only offers limitations and captivity. Every time we try to create specialness, we are settling for something that is not real, will not last, will bring us pain, and will confirm that we are not already loved nor complete within ourselves. So, do we still want to be special?
Fortunately, there’s an answer to this dilemma. We must learn to love unconditionally and to surrender all egotistical needs to be special OR to make others egotistically special to us. In the ultimate sense, all of our relations are the same, and equally deserving of our love and kindness. So we are destined to eventually love everyone–equally. Does this mean we have to move every man, woman, and child into our home? Of course not. We can love everyone as God loves them–unconditionally–yet we are also welcome to decide which forms of love are most appropriate for each person at any given moment. So we can love them all equally but freely choose how to express that love in a way that feels right for each given scenario, which may vary from our child to a stranger and from our partner to a friend. Even Jesus and Buddha loved everyone but still chose to treat some of their apostles differently than others.
The more we are filled with Spirit, the more complete within ourselves we will feel, thus preventing us from needing anyone else to make us feel special. Although all relationships in this world begin as special, due to being rooted in the perception that we are separate, they can be healed by forgiving the misperceptions we projected onto them, thus making the relationship holy again. When a relationship is healed, it becomes Holy or Whole–an expression of Oneness. What is ONENESS cannot be special, since special is defined as, “one part being more special than another part.” As we learn to bring ourselves and our relationships prayerfully to the altar of Unconditional Love, asking for guidance on how to forgive errors and love only in unconditional ways, all forms of specialness will merely evaporate before the Light of God.