Trust and Meaning
Humans are meaning-making machines. What I mean by that is that meaning comes from within. It comes from inside of you. Many of us may have spent a lot of our lives looking for meaning from outside of us. We have this constant stream of thoughts that we are either highly aware of or do everything in our power to avoid; thoughts such as, “If I get a good job, if I do the right things, if I say the right things, I will be accepted. If I’m accepted, I will feel loved. If I feel loved, I’ll feel safe. If I’m safe, I’ll learn how to trust.” My favorite question about the model came from a colleague of mine during my clinical practicum at the very humble Clackamas Community College. She asked, “how do you trust?” It was the most valid question I had in teaching the model. How do we trust? I contemplated this long and hard. Is trust the same as faith? What do I have faith in? Has it given me my meaning? Do I trust it? The answer to these questions for me was no. It didn’t give it to me, it reflected one angle of me. From my journey through knowledge and experience, I looked for my meaning everywhere. I was born into a very strict, devout, Catholic family. I went to the church for youth bible study every Wednesday, and church services every Sunday. By the time I was 8, my dad had decided to convert to a “born again Christian.” With all my heart, I leaped into it and had faith in all of the teachings. I eventually became Wiccan, then named it paganism – just so I could have a name to tell people what I practice. In all of these experiences, what I came to realize was that my relationship with God(s), Goddess, Saints, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, etc.…, all came from within me. My relationship with whichever deity I chose, is experienced from within the context I come from, and my context is mine and mine alone. No don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying there isn’t something greater than us out there, I absolutely believe this in my own way. In fact, what I believe is most important is that we not forget that there is always something greater than us. There is always hope, there is always better. We decide what our relationship is with it, and we respond to it in how we wish to. This is what it means to be a meaning-making machine. Your meaning, who you are, what you are, comes from your experiences…. come from how you responded to those experiences; this is why we revisit the past so often – looking for ourselves.
I kept my past with me all the time and examined it from every angle; from a spiritual angle; a scientific psychological angle, a therapist’s angle – and so on…. What I came to understand was that every time something terrible happened to me (and as many of you may know – there are so many to choose from), I responded in a way that helped me grow and become a better person. It showed me where I was weak, and it showed me where I was strong. It showed me what I needed to work on, and what I needed to remember when I was feeling down. It showed me that who you are is at your core. Your core self is the same core self you had when you were a child. Your brain is ever changing, learning, growing. Your ability to observe this comes from your core. Your core self, the thoughts you hear streaming through you, the pictures or visions floating around in your head, the emotions you experience – are always dancing. So, thoughts alone cannot give you meaning, emotions alone cannot give you meaning – because they are ever changing. There is something in you that has been there since you were a child. The person that knows you better than anyone ever could. That is your meaning. This is what you have already trusted all this time. Go look for it.
These are the things that my core taught me. The things I say in here are my way of finding my meaning. Perhaps you have a different way....