[Articles on Communication][Freeing the Mind - Articles on Personal Development]

What does it mean? - Redefining meaning.

Events occur in the world, but how we react to them depends on what they mean to us. If a police officer saw someone running out of a shop and another running behind them (after them) then he or she might think the first one had stolen something. A taxi driver might think they were late for an appointment and were possible clients. A child might see them as playing a game. The real situation may require more information so we could say what is really happening. In many real life situations, the meaning isn't clear at all - however much information we have.

We create meaning by what is sometimes called reframing. There are several of these and we will look at them in the coming weeks.

This type of reframing is called redefining:

You forgot my birthday so you don't care about me.

I'm sorry I forgot your birthday. I did so because I was so busy at work earning lots of money so you have a good life. That doesn't mean I don't care about you. It means I care about you a lot.

Here we are saying forgetting the birthday is not an example of not caring, but an example of caring.

I didn't get the promotion, so that proves life is unfair.

Actually, it doesn't prove that life is unfair. It proves we have a lot more to learn to know about success, and when we have learned this lesson then we'll get everything we want.

Once again, it doesn't mean the world is unfair, it means that we have more to learn. And this will help us be even more successful.

We don't really know what things mean, but nicer meanings do empower us and those we communicate with.

He said nasty things to me. So that shows what an evil person he is.

Actually, it doesn't prove that. It shows that he speaks his mind. I wish more people said what they really feel, and we wouldn't be deceived into thinking they like us - when they are only reluctant to tell us the truth. It isn't nice, but it does help us in the long run.

When we redefine we accept the observed events and deny they have one meaning and affirm they have another. Of course, in real life we would get a bit more information before we redefined. We would use the Being Specific model to make the situation clear. Then we would use redefining.

That (thing) costs too much.

Actually this (thing) has everything you need and it uses quality (bits). Does giving you just what you want mean it costs too much?

Here we are saying it price doesn't mean you shouldn't buy it, but rather that you should.

Try to observe this pattern when you watch TV or listen to others try to persuade. And you could try it out yourself!


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Most Recent Revision: 17-Apr-99.
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