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What are you making that mean?

How being curious can give a new perspective

· Insights,Something to Try

The more curious I become about the world, and especially about people, the more flexible I am able to be with my thinking. In the past it was easy for me to make assumptions, without even being aware that was what I was doing.

There are so many examples of where this plays out. Maybe someone didn’t reply to my message, and I assume it is because they are upset with me. Or perhaps someone hasn’t called me for a long time, and I assume that all is well in their life and they are just too busy to call me. Or perhaps my son hasn’t called me so I make the assumption he doesn’t love me!

When I stop to think about it I don’t know why I didn’t get a reply to my message, I don’t know that all is well with my friend, and I don’t know why my son hasn’t called. The conclusions I reached were based on what I believed to be true about people and the world, and my place in it.

One of the most challenging, yet liberating, questions I was asked during some coaching a few years ago was "What are you making that mean?"

It was such an eye-opener. What am I making it mean?

There was the realisation that an action or event doesn’t actually have any meaning until I impose my own meaning upon it.

We are socialised to believe that there is a certain way to behave, and so many judgements about what it means if someone acts in a particular way. But what if this is all just made up? What if we do have control to decide what it means? Often I find things have no meaning other than the one I have given them. I may or may not be right if I am interpreting the actions of another.

The amount of energy that is expended by us humans giving meaning to others actions and behaviour must be phenomenal. How would it be if we were more often able to keep an open mind, be curious about what we are making something mean? Give ourselves a moment to catch our reaction, perhaps be more empathetic about the other, and instead see what else is possible in that space.

Have you ever noticed that you gave meaning to something in a way that caused you more angst and upset that may have been necessary? Looking at that thinking now what might you change that could free up energy around the situation?

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