Making Meaning | Daily Mindful Moment #3
Updated: Apr 11
Consider a story you tell about your life... What meaning are you making? There is a difference between the stories we tell and the stories we live. That difference is the meaning we create around them.
For example, consider a time that you had an argument. If you were to tell the story of that argument, how would you tell it? Now think about how the other person would tell it. What might be different about their story and yours? You both lived the same story, but the meaning you will make around it will be different. You might say that they started it, but they might feel that you initiated the conflict and that they were just reacting to you. You might say that they were disrespecting you, but they might say they were just defending themselves. The purpose of this exercise is not to see who is right and who is wrong. Both told stories are "true," so how do we reconcile different meaning-making processes?
I think that the way to navigate this phenomenon in our relationships is to allow ourselves to be guided by curiosity. If we can be vocal about our desire to seek understanding, it can help to de-escalate an unproductive conflict. We can step back and ask ourselves: What did that interaction mean to me? Why? What might this have meant to them? Why? We can even ask these questions of our conversation partners. How did you interpret our argument? What did the things that I said mean to you? What did you mean by what you said?
The "C" in CMM stands for Coordinated, as is we are coordinating the meaning we are making with others. Managing the meaning we make is a collaborative process. It has to be. We don't exist in a bubble, so it is a waste of time to act like we do. The question is not, "How can I make other people agree with the meaning I am making?" but instead, "How can we work together to create a more inclusive meaning?"
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