One of the most uniquely human attributes is that we are meaning-making-machines.
Let’s use it to our advantage.
Show us the moon covering up the sun for several seconds – creating darkness in the middle of the day – and we will allocate meaning to it. This behavior is timeless. In the year 840, Louis of Bavaria was so terrified of the solar eclipse he witnessed, that he died shortly after. Subsequent to his death, his sons fought over the right to rule, and their peace treaty led to the birth of Germany, Italy, and France! Ol’ Louis created some meaning about what he experienced, and this had a huge impact on him. For better or worse – We are humans, and assigning meaning is just what we do.
We do this because assigning meaning to things helps us feel more secure and assists us in making sense of the world. Or in Louis’s case, non-sense. It’s a characteristic of resilience and it can help us survive. Perhaps it is even why we are here.
And, lucky for us meaning-making-machines, you can google just about anything. I did just that.
I needed to understand why something kept “happening to me”.
So, I looked it up, and I am really happy that I did. I have a new perspective:
In the past several months, I have counted several spiders of various shapes, sizes, and colors (none appear to be brown recluse or black widow) in my bedroom. Simply put: this freaked me out. I may suffer slight arachnophobia (fear of spiders) in that this situation enlightened me to how many fearful beliefs I have about spiders. For example, I thought that spiders are extremely shrewd and know that I am afraid of them; maybe they enjoy “hide and seek” with me. Also, I heard that if you kill a spider, it triggers the other spiders to come and take vengeance – so you end up with a greater problem.
The other day, I’d had it. I was very frustrated with my spider problem. I decided to look up “Native American Meanings – Spider Medicine”. I’m from Asheville. That is the logical thing to do in my situation when you live here. Perhaps Asheville is a denser area than most for extra-meaning, meaning-making-machines, to inhabit.
What I found provided me with insight and I felt very grateful to be of the meaning-making-machine race.
In the Native American tradition, the spider medicine represents feminine communication and creativity. It is said that if a spider appears in your life she is bringing you the message or reminder that you create your own reality. Your life is up to you and you have infinite possibilities and choices. You can weave whatever story you want, just the way that the spider weaves her web. Her medicine tells of the requirement for courage to be creative in making your dreams come true. And if a spider bites you, the Native American tradition would say that you were not paying attention to the spider’s message. You need to investigate where in your life you are falling victim to the belief that life “happens to you”.
I’ve let the spiders be. Call me crazy, but I ascribed meaning to them, and now I like their reminders. And none have bit me.
(I did a little more research to find that unlike mosquitos or ticks, spiders don’t feed on human blood and they have no reason to bite a human unless they feel threatened. Now that we have made peace, I’m feeling okay!)
The point of this quirky self-disclosure is this question for you:
How can you construct meaning in the midst of an apparently negative situation in order for it to be more tolerable?
This is a skill and such a useful one. You are a meaning-making machine. Have fun with it!