They say, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Imagine you have pointed yourself in a certain direction, perhaps a goal, some achievement, a personal dream. And while you are on that trajectory…’stuff happens.’
It isn’t the stuff you wanted, or expected, but it’s the stuff that showed up. You feel it as an obstacle, something getting in your way, stopping you. Pause for a moment and think of a recent example…or even an old one. Got it?
Now ask yourself, “This happened…and what does it ‘mean?” Write down the meaning you created to explain what happened. Ok…so what did you come up with? Here’s an example to consider:
“I was in my car, on my way to an important appointment and feeling a little bit nervous about the outcome. Suddenly I realized that my gas gauge was on “Empty” and then I heard the sound of the engine sputtering…and watched, aghast as the car drifted to a standstill. I had just enough time to pull over to the side of the road. And I realized that I was 20 miles from the nearest gas station. And this ‘means’….
“That I am going to be late to this important meeting.”
“And that means the person I was going to meet is going to be annoyed or possibly angry that I didn’t show up.
“And that means that they aren’t going to want to see me again because they are going to think I don’t care about being on time…or even showing up…because I didn’t even call them…because my cell phone battery was also out of juice.”
“And that means my reputation is going to be crap and my possibilities are going to be limited.”
“And that means I’m going to fail, again, because I was so stupid to let this happen.””
Ok, you think this is a bit far-fetched...but is it? Have you not been in situations like this when ‘stuff’ happened and your mind got busy doing all the long division and deciding a series of “and this means” scenarios…that left you feeling exhausted, frustrated, angry, upset and disappointed in yourself? If not, you may be from another planet and perhaps another species.
Why? Because humans are ‘meaning creating machines.’ We are always busy creating meaning out of life’s experience, figuring out ‘what things mean’ and especially, what it ‘means’ about ourselves. Are we not?
But what if I told you that none of these ‘meanings’ has a trace of reality? That each and every one is simply a ‘story’ that you made up in your mind? And that there are probably an infinite number of ‘meanings’ that could be derived, inferred or implied by one simply event in your life journey….all equally unreal.
The scenario above is an illustration of the ‘reactive mind’ at work. Events occur that we don’t want or expect and the mind reacts by creating an imagined ‘catastrophic’ scenario…that seems quite real at the time. Later, we usually realize we were only ‘making a mountain out of a molehill.”
The next time you are in a situation where you are surprised by ‘life, happening,’ stop and clear your mind, take a deep breath, close your eyes and relax. Notice the thought-stream that wants to unfold…and…let it unfold. Calmly, say to yourself, “None of these thoughts are real and nothing that happened ‘means’ anything.”
Then, assess the facts: you ran out of gas in a remote location and now you can choose your options to address the breakdown. You have zero control over how others are going to interpret the ‘stuff’ that happened, the stories that their minds are going to spin in response to your ‘stuff.’
You options might include: making sure you always have enough gas in your tank, carrying a spare cell phone battery so you can reach out for help if you need it and forgiving yourself for being human. Drop all the ‘meanings’ and free yourself…you are Unstoppable. 🙂
Nothing ‘means’ anything. All the ‘meanings’ are stories, made up by a busy mind that hates a vacuum and, in a desperate attempt to ‘be in control’ fills in the gaps in a given situation. Knowing this, reminding yourself of this when ‘stuff happens’ frees you to create your best options and move forward…Unstoppably. Does it not?
Humans seem to be addicted attaching ‘meaning’ to circumstances, when in fact they are better served by calmly engaging with reality, separating facts from stories, and then taking the next step.
This is one among many understandings and techniques you will learn when you:
Register for “The Unstoppable Workshop” here
Read my book “Being Unstoppable” here
Thanks for taking a moment to consider ‘what it all means.’ The fact is, things mean only what you say they mean…or perhaps, just maybe, they ‘mean’ nothing at all.