In yesterday’s blog (“Stories – Part I”), I demonstrated how we make up stories about others. The stories we make up about others are given by: (1) our general beliefs about life itself (this is a good source for you to use if you’re ever having trouble identifying your core beliefs -> i.e. what are you saying is true about others?) and (2) our past experience(s) of these people.
The truth of any situation is that we make up our own interpretation of the events in our lives and we decide what’s true about them. According to that truth is how we then live, speak, and breathe. So, today, I want to look a bit closer to home. Because the stories we make up about others, as related to us, come directly from our past-based beliefs about ourselves – particularly those stories which are self-defeating. To illustrate this, I’m going to use an example that I read somewhere, & which includes a few of my own embellishments.
Let’s say that you’re out working in your yard and you find yourself in need of a shovel. Since you don’t have one, and rather than buy one, you decide to see if you can borrow one from your neighbor. It’s 9am on a Saturday morning. You go over to your neighbor’s house and knock on their door but there’s no answer. You know your neighbor’s basic routine and you see their car is in the driveway so you “know” that they are home. You knock on the door a second time and no one answers. Thinking they may not hear the knock, you ring the bell and wait for a minute. There’s no answer to the bell. You ring the bell a second time and wait another minute; but, still no one answers. You sooner or later realize no one is going to answer the door so you leave. But, what you and I don’t do, is we don’t just leave. Instead, we always assign some significance to an event like this. And we assign the significance immediately.
So, as soon as you’ve given up on the hope of your neighbor answering his door, you assign your meaning to the event. You leave only after you’ve assigned some meaning to that event. [Note how quickly this happens in real life.]
Before you leave, you could decide:
a) The neighbors don’t like me and that’s why they didn’t answer the door.
b) The neighbors didn’t want to lend me their shovel so that’s why they didn’t answer the door.
c) The neighbors may have been right in the middle of a hot breakfast and that’s why they didn’t answer the door.
d) The neighbors were in the middle of having hot, passionate sex, and that’s why they didn’t answer the door.
e) The neighbors were actually away from their house visiting another neighbor (they walked and that’s why the car was in the drive) and that’s why they didn’t answer the door.
Or, you could decide, more zen-like in nature, that
f) The neighbors didn’t answer the door because they didn’t answer the door! (This is the same as consciously assigning no meaning to the event.)
Each of the above reasons (with the exception of the last) has a meaning. What we generally do as humans, is assign the meaning that means something negative about us…..in this case, something like example a or b above. You won’t really know why the neighbors didn’t answer the door until you have a chance to relate the story and ask them why they didn’t answer the door. And, notice how quickly you make up your meaning about the events in your life. It happens so quickly, that unless someone else makes us conscious of it, we rarely even recognize that we’re engaging in this activity.
So, now that you’re conscious : - ) my request is that you start noticing in your life where you give meaning to what previously had no meaning. It really didn’t. It only became significant because you said that it was significant. It only became cause for concern because you put that concern into the meaning. Maybe it was necessary. Maybe it wasn’t. My request is that you play with this. When you reflect back on your day, look at the meaning you gave to the different events of your day. Then, look at whether or not you would have acted/reacted any differently if you had not given the event the significance you did. See if there’s an area of freedom for you in this discovery.