Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Do You Know What You Mean?

I have been to workshops where they teach that everything is meaningless.  There is no actual specific meaning inside what happens, or what people say and do.  Is this true?  Well, yes. 

And…I might suggest this thought for people to consider.   Hearing that nothing has meaning often leads to all kinds of emotional distress.  Why?  Because the things people do and say have meaning to us.  Often super life changing, really deeply held meaning. And this is also true.

How is this possible?

Our filters make things mean things.  So when a thing happens (or someone says something) it means one thing to me, another thing to you, and yet another thing to our friend.  All the meaning is happening inside each individual. 

That is why when you believe what you think is true you are more likely to argue with someone.  Because they have the same belief, that what they are thinking is true.  If what you each think is not the same, and you both believe your thoughts as truth, there isn’t much room for understanding.  So we spend lots of time arguing about our beliefs as if the meaning we each make is the actual meaning.  And, as we know, there is no actual meaning.


So much distress and hours of unproductive conversations would be alleviated if we each understood that the meaning I make is important to me, and the meaning you make is important to you.  Acknowledge the difference and that we care, rather than try to convince the how wrong they are.

For example…

I like vanilla ice cream and you like chocolate.  If I insisted that you like vanilla and you insisted that I like chocolate we will be talking for a long time ~ with likely not much resolve.  I will still like vanilla, you will still like chocolate.

Instead if we chose to celebrate each other’s choices, discussed the pleasure you experience eating chocolate and my joy in eating vanilla, and make arrangements for us each to have those experiences we would decrease our stress and increase joy!!


Next time someone tells you their opinion and shares it as the truth, repeat it back to them with the words, “I understand from what you are saying that you experience what happened as this….is that right?”  Once they have responded, you offer, “I have made a different conclusion from what has happened, are you interested in hearing my thoughts?”

They may or may not want to hear your thoughts.  Whether they invite a conversation or they do not, you have saved many hours of arguing whose interpretations of the facts are the ‘correct’ ones!


  1. Hi Terrie,
    It is so helpful to be reminded of the "rightness" we attach to our beliefs and your examples using ice cream to illustrate the topic makes it really clear. Thank you for taking the time to write the blog. The lesson is very valuable and always timely.

    1. My pleasure. Such a joy to hear that what I write has meaning for another person.