One can often watch a film with an ending that is unclear and come up with an interpretation that is completely different to another person. Or perhaps there is a cloud in the sky; one sees it to be a certain shape and another person sees another shape or cannot see this shape at all.
Then there are dreams, which can be interpreted in numerous ways. Some say there are specific meanings; others say that the meanings can only be interpreted by the individual.
Above we see examples of general interpretations that most people can relate to. And these are what most people are aware of. However, what about the Interpretations that are going on internally - the Interpretations that are having a much bigger affect on our lives.
And yet, this is a process that is so natural and effortless, that it often goes on unnoticed. Here, the experiences that one has are interpreted in a certain way and the meaning that is then given, is generally seen as the absolute meaning and only one possible.
Internal And External
The divide between the internal experience and the external experience is not being considered. It could even be that one is completely unaware of their internal processes and responses.
Due to these responses often being automatic and unconscious, it will mean that one won’t have to think about them. And in one way this is a good thing, as it leads to an easier life and minimizes the amount of energy and time needed. That is the positive aspect; the negative side is that these interpretations are not necessarily empowering or functional.
These interpretations are more than likely second hand and originated in the minds of other people. Ones society and childhood will all have had a say in how one interprets their experiences.
The Ego Mind
As the ego mind sees reality in absolutes and through the use of projection, this whole process can be extremely hard to see. And what this means is that, based on the interpretation that one has, a self imposed prison can end up being created.
It Is Normal
To see experiences that occur as having one meaning is a normal process for the ego mind. And if one has perceived life through these lenses from the very beginning, then why would one even consider another way of seeing.
The ego mind will have formed an association of familiarity and safety around these interpretations. And this means that the ego mind will hold onto them; simply because it means ones survival is not at risk.
Whether these interpretations are what bring one happiness or empowerment, is not important to the ego mind. All that matters is survival and if it is familiar then that is all that matters. So what is creating certainty for the mind could be what is also creating pain and conflict.
As one begins to observe the interpretations that they have, one then has the possibility to choose their own meaning. When it comes to the affect that interpretations have, on one’s own wellbeing, level or success and happiness; they are far too important to simply be ignored.
How one chooses to behave at any given time, will depend on how one interprets a situation. And if one is not aware of this, one will be destined to repeat the behaviours of the past.
Now, this might be empowering and enable one to achieve what they want and to be who they want to be. But if this is not the case, then these interpretations would have to be different.
Success Or Failure
There are people in the world who seem to never give up and there are others who seem to stop at the first hurdle. It would be easy to assume that these people are stronger or lucky and have something that other people don’t.
But perhaps, one of the big differences is that that their interpretations are simply different. And as a result of these different ways of seeing things, they have the resilience to continue.
Rejection Or Acceptance
Rejection can be extremely painful; some people seem to handle it, while others suffer immensely. And what is certain is that rejection in one form or another; it is part of the human experience.
And this is another good example of interpretation at work. Rejection can feel life death and the end of the world, while at the same time; it can simply be feedback or another person’s opinion. Whatever one this is, will depend on the interpretation that one gives it.
The Power Of Interpretation
How powerful interpretations are, is not to be overlooked here. Ones emotional and cognitive responses will be affected and so will ones physical sensations. Along with all the brain chemicals that are produced with all this. This all comes to together to create the whole experience and to create the illusion of there being only one meaning.
A lot of these interpretations will have come about through societal conditioning and this means that the ego mind will have associated approval and acceptance around them ;meaning that one’s survival will be attached, according to the ego mind anyway.
And then before that, ones childhood experience will also strongly influence the interpretations that one has. With the ego mind associating these as being what is safe and familiar and being essential to ones survival.
Could this mean, that the only meaning anything has is based on the interpretation that one gives it? It is definitely something for one to ponder.
In order to be a good listener or therapist for example, one needs to be aware of their interpretations, so that they can be present and hear what is being said.
For one to be able to do this their past needs to have been processed to a reasonable degree or it will come up and taint, what is being said in the present moment.
Depending on the interpretations and how intense they are, one may be able to observe what is going on or perhaps some external assistance may be required. This could be through a therapist, healer, hypnotherapist or a trusted friend for example.
However this is a process and something that won’t happen overnight. One will need to be patient and kind to themselves during this process.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 26 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.