A novel by Jeannette Winterson of the same name points out multiple ways to love. This principle, in fact, applies beyond relationships to absolutely EVERYTHING in life. Any event can be interpreted in multiple ways. This may not seem like a groundbreaking revelation, but it actually is if we live its wisdom.
The meaning we attribute to something is both profound and fluid.
Knowing that we get to decide what something means to us is like opening a window in a dark room. It lets in light and new ways of seeing situations and, most of all, it provides life-sustaining oxygen. Without air and sunlight, we wither and die as if we were a neglected house plant stuck in a dark corner.
Plus, you can change the original meaning you make of an event, thereby opening more “windows” later on. You can decide to experience something one way for a while and then decide not to. You can, for example, be upset about losing your job and then, later on, become thankful that it was one of the best things that ever happened to you.
If this sounds like making things up, you’d be right because this is what you do and have done your entire life.
In Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) this is what is meant by “the map is not the territory.” The ground we travel is not the same thing as the map or conceptual framework that we use to navigate it. These two are different things, and separating them out in this way is tremendously powerful. It puts us back in charge of lives. We can them become “at-cause” of circumstances instead of “candles in the wind.”
What Does it Mean to You?
And, this makes sense when we think about terrible experiences that don’t traumatise some people and routine experiences that do. Those who become traumatised by what could be judged as “minor” happenings aren’t necessarily more sensitive than someone else, they’ve just stored the energy of trauma instead of releasing it, and, in doing so, have made meanings of it in unhelpful ways.
While there are other factors to work through with trauma, how we make meaning of what happens to us is absolutely critical.
And, the good news is … you get to decide.
The saying that it’s never too late to have a happy childhood makes sense from an NLP perspective because you learn how to run your brain and create your own reality. I’m not talking about changing other people or what’s happening outside of you. Happiness is an inside job. I mean changing in a genuine way how you experience everyone and anything. This is true empowerment.
Do you remember the lemon in an earlier post? Well now we know why the orange isn’t the only fruit, and orange you glad you know?
Now how do you begin today to put this into practice?