I was heartbroken! Disappointed! Slightly angry and my self-esteem had definitely taken a hit. It was 1998 and my best friend and I had just returned from a month in Europe. The trip had been amazing! Despite the US playing horribly, Schaef and I had enjoyed a great World Cup. We had toured England, Spain, France and Germany seeing five World Cup matches along the way. The only downside to the trip had been that my girlfriend and I were never able to connect on the phone. Either we were traveling or she was working but we kept missing one another. Then when Schaef and I got home, the worst possible scenario came true. She was breaking up with me and was possibly seeing someone else.
After a month of pure joy, I was paying the price with pure agony. My life had basically fallen apart. I had lost my girlfriend, my place to live (we were moving in together when I got back) and my future (in my head marriage was the next step). Now I was left with nothing and all alone to build things back up again. As much as I would love for the theme song from Rocky to start playing in the background and tell you that I got myself right in about a week, it took about a year. The details of my rise from the ashes are not as important as the recognition of who/what turned me into ashes. The person who was responsible for my agony was me and the tool that I used to inflict it upon myself was meaning.
There are many things that happen throughout life. Although some may have positive or negative connotations to them, most are subject to interpretation. It is not particularly the situation that causes the most pain but the meaning that we associate to the event. My breakup meant all kinds of things at the time. It meant that I was worthless, hopeless, helpless, lonely, a loser and a bunch of other things. It took time to gain perspective and put new meaning onto that experience. It was freeing, challenging, educational and the best thing for both of us. Obviously this all came with time but it didn’t need to. That experience did not need to be so destructive, had I been a Master of Meaning (M.O.M).
At the time, life happened to me more than I influenced it. For better or worse, the events of my life would happen and THEY made me feel good or bad. This is of course nonsense. The events of our lives can influence but do not completely control how we feel. Any event can be made to feel like it is positive or negative based on the meaning that we attach to it. A million dollars is nothing but currency with pictures of dead presidents on it. How someone reacts to receiving a million dollars is based completely on the meaning that they attach to it. For many it represents possibility, happiness and freedom. For others it means obligation, mistrust and greed. The meaning that we put onto any event is crucial to how we feel about our lives. Our habits of making meaning will make our lives seem like it is heading in one direction or another. Until we take our power to decide, we are at the mercy of circumstance. That is a difficult life to lead!
What will today mean for you?