Just about you?

Just because the truth of any event is malleable (shaped by your interpretation), it doesn’t follow that it’s infinitely malleable. In other words, some interpretations are better than others.

There are interpretations that open up possibility for action, and those that close it down. Those that bring out compassion, and those that bring out cruelty. And there are those that open you up to your participation in things, and those that put you at the centre of things.

These latter kinds of narrative, the ones in which you take yourself to be at the centre of the world, are ripe with difficulty.

On the one hand, they convince you that the problems you encounter are aimed, specifically, at you. It’s raining on you. Her anger is all about you. Those idiots who didn’t give you that job – they must have it in for you. The economic downturn is here to thwart your plans. Being the centre of the world in this way leads to both grandiosity and deflation, to an over-inflated sense of your own importance and to resentment that the world does not seem to treat you as you think it should.

One the other hand, the genuine power of new interpretation can lead you to imagine the world can be moulded to your wishes, just because you declare it to be so. Just declare that you’re open to receiving money from the universe, and you’ll become rich! Just declare success, and you’ll be successful! Here you are at the centre of the world again, but this time with the power usually reserved only for deities.

It does not take much sincere encounter with the world to see how often this is not the case. Notably, if were true that you could just declare and the world would follow your wishes, you would be solely to blame for the difficulties you’re experiencing. Your illness, your loss, your confusion – all fall squarely at your feet and nowhere else. There is no room, here, for a world of significance beyond you and your desires.

Best-selling books such as The Secret play right into our longing for such an interpretation to be true. But they do not meet the world as it is – bigger than each of us, shaping us always despite our wishes and intentions, and much more mysterious.

Learning that our interpretations shape the world is, rightly, a powerful move. But let’s not let it go, too much, to our heads.

Photo Credit: steve p2008 via Compfight cc

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