When I listen to podcasts, read an article, or just go about my day, sometimes I hear things that just stick. They just kind of stay in the back of my mind, making me think. Last week, the quote was, “Forgiveness is letting go of an apology you’ll never receive.” This week’s quote is kind of along the same theme of healing.
“All healing involves a change of meaning.”
How do you reinterpret, reframe, or redefine the meaning in somebody else’s action so that you can work with them, rebuild a relationship, or simply heal?
Somewhere around my 30th birthday, I had an experience where I had to do this.
You probably know that I’m a child of divorce, a very ugly divorce at that. So bad that on my mother’s death bed, she tried to text my father that she “didn’t forgive him.” Only to find out that my father doesn’t know how to text. At least she laughed about that!
Growing up, there were a lot of actions by my parents that I would assign meaning to. The most obvious example being when my dad moved out on my 8th birthday. I could have assumed it was about me.
My dad is first-generation American, a child of immigrants, and now at 85 says the world has passed him by. A few years ago, he displayed a rare moment of vulnerability and said, “I thought my job was to teach you how to stand on your own two feet and then leave you alone.”
And he did that. It just was not necessarily what we wanted. I’m lucky that I figured out something in my 30s that my dad is just figuring out now. What I figured out was… he did his best.
The meaning in everything that he did was well-intentioned. It might not have been what I wanted, but he did what he thought was in our best interests. In how he taught us, in how he interacted with us, and even in how he didn’t interact with us.
As a child I assigned one meaning to his hands-off, laissez-faire parenting, I thought he didn’t care or that maybe didn’t love me.
I have since changed the meaning of his behaviors to he did what he thought was best. That change of meaning is when my healing started and when our adult relationship began to get stronger.
I realize this is a very personal story but I am almost always able to relate my content to the workplace. I’m going to guess that you all can recall a situation or relationship with a colleague whose actions you could assign a different meaning to. I bet if you redefine your interpretation you just may start to heal that relationship and work better together.
Do you like these quotes? What are the phrases that stick in your mind and make you think? Send them to me, I always love a little word-spiration.