So let’s talk about it… meaning and what it all means. Its influence and impact on our understanding and perception of events and occurrences. Because it really does affect us more profoundly then we think. As it shapes everything… how we feel, what we think, do and act. It has the power to open us up but it also has the power to limit and constraint.
You see, as humans we want to desperately to be right… to know. And to know is to attribute an understanding. An understanding that assumes rather taking face value. Furthermore, as humans we internalize almost everything, thinking as though the world revolves around us, forgetting we are just a piece to the whole. And what I mean by this is we think we know, but in actuality we haven’t clue. But because we want so desperately to understand and be right, we assume a sense ‘knowing’ based on prior occurrences.
For example, a coworker storms into the office and doesn’t say hi to you. Depending on your prior encounters, you can either think they are upset with you or that they are just a miserable soul. But perhaps they had a rough morning, maybe someone cut them off, maybe their partner was inconsiderate, maybe… maybe… but because, you noted in the past that if someone doesn’t say hi it’s because you did something and they are upset. You’ve made that action mean something, when in actuality it means nothing. They simply stormed in.
Another example, you meet someone and they are very different from your past partners. Loving, caring, nurturing, all the good stuff. But then a day comes along where they aren’t those things, not to say they are rude, but they aren’t feeling it that day for whatever reason. And so, you begin to make that mean something. Referring to past experiences, you begin to think they love bombed you and it was all smoke and mirrors. And now, boom a fight starts, you push them away and withdraw. But what if they just had a really bad day and needed to retreat inward rather than giving outward?!
And that is the problem, but also the importance. Because we are meaning making machines, we default to making everything mean something. Actions, behaviours, sometimes we even make words mean more than what they mean. Someone can say ‘no thank you’ and we turn around and think it’s because of me or it wasn’t good enough for them to accept, or whatever else. All of which is based on our perspective, how opened or how limited it is, something I speak on in another article, The Power Behind Switching up Perspectives.
But basically, due to our natural inclination to understand, we attribute meaning to almost everything and nothing. Which has the power to shape our reality and perception of it. Especially when it comes to trauma. So often we confuse what actually happened with how events made us feel. Your mom yells at you and you take that to mean you’re a bad child. But really all that happened was that you got yelled at, nothing more and nothing less. It doesn’t mean you are a bad child.
Yet, we live through those meanings. Neglecting to note that they aren’t what actually happened, rather a story we created about what happened. A story that misinterprets and construed the reality of actuality -the true nature of events. And that is not to say you aren’t valid in your feelings, but rather acknowledging that they are feelings and not what occurred.
And that is major, as we can’t control the events but we can control the stories we make about set events as every occurrence is up to interpretation. An interpretation that can make or break it. So meaning is important, granted that it can hold power over you, if you don’t accept that things are simply as they are -nothing more and nothing less. Feelings are extra, they aren’t a means to attribute meaning and create stories. They are tool to understand ourselves, not the outside world. For things mean what they mean, and what you feel with respect to that is about you -nothing more.