Did your friend just tell you that she doesn’t like your new shoes, or did your boss refuse to publish your article? So what is the real problem?

The meanings we give to situations are the significant variables that shape the quality of our experiences.

The situation you are presenting, in the example above the fact that your friend did not like the shoes, is never the problem itself. We create problems because of the meanings we give to the situation.

Imagine a coat on a coat rack. The coat is just a coat. Once you see the label that says ‘100% cashmere’ and assuming you like cashmere, the coat now becomes more valuable and potentially desirable. Let’s imagine you then see the price tag and it says ‘$ 990’. Depending on your relationship to money and value, that could mean, “Wow, expensive!” or “Wow, what a great price!” If we go a step further and imagine that there is a sign on the coat rack that says ‘SALE – original price $ 2490’ – what would happen now to the meaning and value it gives to the coat?

Did I mention that the scene happened in a Chanel boutique? So what just changed in your meaning?

This example shows that the coat is still just a coat. Given all these different frames of reference, they change the meaning and therefore the value of the object in relation to our own sense of value of the specific frame.

Going back to the shoes example, ask yourself:

  • How important Are those shoes for you?
  • What meaning put on those shoes?
  • How much value and importance assigned to your friend’s opinion?

Play the same scenario in your head with different types of relationships (friend, partner, mother, possible new lover), in a different situation (at a party, at a dinner with close friends) and with different shoes. Watch your feelings and thoughts change!

The reason you have a problem is because you have given it a compelling reason and meaning for it to be a problem.

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