Dr. JOYLYN Maniaci
I happen to things.
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by Dr. JOYLYN Maniaci

The Trouble With Significance

"Attachment is the source of all suffering." Liberation comes when there is no significance. This is a very important tenant of Buddhist philosophy, and some part of most major religious teachings.

"But, if nothing was significant, then nothing would matter and then there would be no reason for living,” we think. And we get scared to let go.

Aren't we interesting little critters? We keep looking for meaning outside of ourselves, when that is just what we came here to contribute. We give meaning to life. We don't have to find a purpose; we create one (or many). But, we doubt our magnificence and our ability to really mean enough to add meaning to anything and everything, so we keep on searching outside of ourselves for it.

Our minds are meaning-making machines, endlessly spinning stories and weaving things together to "make sense." One way that we make things make sense is to create an order of things, largely by labeling them as significant or meaningful. But in reality, we lock ourselves up when we give significance and meaning to things. What we think bestowing significance and finding meaning in things does, and what it actually does, are very different. When we make something significant, we do not make it special. We make it greater than ourselves. We take something—a person, a day, an object, an idea, a place--and put it on a pedestal. Even though we were the ones that were “smart” enough to build the pedestal, decorate the altar, and make ourselves tall enough to place whatever it was on top, we then choose to shrink and make it out of reach for ourselves. Once this thing or event is up on its pedestal, then it’s there to stay because we somehow tricked ourselves into believing that we can’t reach it, are less than it, or can't change it.

You may argue that this is not the case. But, how many of us have a “significant other?” They are so significant, that even though we lived before we met them, we make them so “significant” that we believe we cannot live without them. Or, even if we admit that we will continue to live and breathe without them, our life will have less joy, less meaning, just be less, somehow. Or, the day or event—an anniversary, a birthday, a death—that once it takes place we must revere it, make ourselves act accordingly, create and demand expectations of others’ behaviors and fight like hell to make sure they fall into and stay in line (Any fights about what is/is not expected for birthday or anniversary parties, gifts? Any guilt for having a “good day” after hearing that someone died or is sad because someone died? Any extra pressure to have a date on Valentine's Day or have someone to share the holidays with?) Or, what about money? Have you made money the decision maker in your life?

So, what is the benefit of making something significant? 

The benefit of this is that we can play small. We can make all these significant things the reasons that we are not being, having, doing the things we would really like that light us up, bring us joy. We get to fit in (because almost everyone else is doing this). We avoid the judgment of others and ourselves for standing out by not. We get to hide. We get to justify and blame something else for our lives not being what they should. And, if we were to risk de-throning everything, and making NOTHING significant, we lose all of our excuses. We lose our ability to blame and to hide. We lose our certainty in the structure and hierarchy that we built to make the world make sense.

We have grown accustomed to, comfortable with, and now demand that everything and everyone make sense. As if it could or ever really did. We created significance to answer the questions and ease the uncertainty of being. But, let’s face it, the uncertainty never went away. And now we are locked in the boxes that we created and fortified with meaning, interpretation, assumption, expectation, projection, and judgment. We have to shrink and be less of ourselves in order to keep the order of things (something else as significant, ourselves as insignificant).

Where do we get to exist in this? If we have to keep disowning pieces of ourselves and  and denying our brilliance in order to make the world make sense. Is it worth it?

Is the fear of the dark hell where we don’t know who we are or what to do or how to act if nothing were significant worse than the agony and frustration of not having all of ourselves?

 Would anything really be lost if we made everything INsignifcant? 

If we take away the significance to the people and events in our life, there is space. From this space we can create ANYTHING and EVERYTHING. 

The people and events will still be there. They can still be every bit as special, awful, lovely, or annoying as ever. But, without significance attached, there is space where there once was only structure and rules. And, though it will require more awareness on our part, and a willingness to allow things to change and flow; there is more choice and possibility available for how to to be and handle life with these people, things, and events.  

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Liberation is just a choice away. We are the ones that built the pedestal and placed things on it. It was a choice. We organized the ceremony. We took the vow. But, now we can choose to de-throne, re-prioritize, destroy and UN-create all the significance that we chose and created. It’s that simple. 

It’s time to learn something new: How to make something insignificant, but not inferior. To allow everything to be; to be meaningful and meaningless at the same time, so that we can enjoy it, play with it, and allow it to change, to stay or leave, AND be 100% whole, complete, and awesome no matter what. This will require us to step into our greatness. There will be nothing to hide behind or under. There will be no excuses for not being the package of awesomeness that we are. 

It is as simple as choosing it. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy. We’ve been operating with and through significance our whole lives. To give up all that we know can be intimidating; where to start? What to do? How to do something I’ve never done and have no way to be sure if I’m “doing it right?”  This is what coaching and superhero training is all about. Working with where you are now and having support from someone who has been willing to go into the unknown and get training on how to take others into their unknown and navigate and choose their way to liberation in steps that you can handle with ease.

If you are curious about a life of possibilities, ready to be the king or queen of the castle of your life, to be the bad-ass superhero that you wish you could be, have a gut feeling that you are, but are afraid to admit and often doubt is true, then contact me. It’s time to do something different. It’s time to take a risk. It is time to come out of hiding. The world needs you, desperately.