Meaning is a funny one isn’t it, because the reality is nothing has meaning until we (or someone else) gives it meaning. Things just are. Life just is. Things happen. We’re the ones who add the meaning, create the story and run with it, or not.
I invite you to think deeply about this.
Things just are. Everything just is, in its own is-ness. The sooner we can realise this and accept things as they are, exactly as they are, without adding the emotional charge and the story; the sooner we can transcend the thing, event, challenge, difficulty, trauma, drama that’s in front of us. See the absolute facts and decide what you want to do for yourself before creating the story! When we think back on something ‘bad’ that happened, it’s not actually the event itself that troubles us now but our thoughts and the meaning we’ve created out of it.
And yes I completely understand that this is a hard one to grasp because we live in a world of labels and duality on this physical plane. There seems to be a need to always label things as right or wrong, good or bad, up or down, black or white, painful or pleasurable…the list go on.
For example, remember as children we were taught that the word ‘Fuck’ is a bad word. I was given out too and scolded if I used that word because it was ‘bad’ and would offend people. It used to confuse me for a number of reasons, 1). Who said it was a bad word and 2). It only had one letter different to the word ‘Duck’! So how could ‘Duck’ be good and ‘Fuck’ be bad, they’re just words, and again who decided. It made no sense to me.
Obviously it comes down to the meaning we attach to each word. Without the meaning, they just are! But not only the meaning we attach to it, also the expected reaction we attach to it. Again who says we should react in any given way? I mean if we repeat each word long enough, they actually both end up sounding meaningless and harmless. For that matter say any word long enough and you begin to wonder, where did it come from, who came up with the meaning for it, and how can it make a person feel any particular way?
So what’s the point of this article?
I think this little story highlights how we are fed a set of predisposed meanings and reactions of what a word should illicit. Not only words either but also actions, behaviours, thoughts etc.
So my invitation is to perhaps become more aware of the meaning we are attaching to things. Take a moment to notice if you are just falling into a set of predisposed meanings, or if you’re actually aligning with what’s true for you. Nothing is set in stone and no matter the situation, we can always create a new meaning. We don’t have to buy what we’re being sold so to speak, there are always other choices. It’s up to us to always try create the highest or best meaning for ourselves, no matter what the expectations. Opening up to this, helps us to make a conscious decision from this place that best serves us in dealing with the event, the difficulty, the challenge, the trauma etc. facing us.
And I mean this honestly because yes ‘bad’ things happen. But if something has happened (no matter what meaning we attach to it), if it has happened, it has happened! We can’t unhappen things BUT if we can accept it for what it is (without the predisposed story and emotional charge), we can do whatever we need to do in order to move through the pain quicker and relinquish ourselves from getting trapped in the story and suffering indefinitely.
Be mindful of the meaning you are attaching to things, or conversely be mindful of the meaning being fed to you. Look at the absolute facts and from there make conscious decisions that best align for you in any given situation.
Viktor Frankl in his book, ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ says;
“Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how to respond to a situation.”
He wrote this after his experience in a concentration camp in Nazi Germany where he lost his wife, his parents, his brother, as well as his career as a psychologist and neurologist. He lost everything meaningful to himself, except meaning itself.
It’s this innate human ability to create meaning he argued, which predicted one’s survival or death, even in some of the most abhorrent of scenes in human history. It’s a powerful & brilliant book.