Meaning: The Root of All Pain?

Updated on April 27, 2020
Holley Hyler profile image

Holley Hyler is an IT consultant and published freelance writer living in New York.

Our memories and experiences make up our personal dictionary, the meanings we assign to various events and situations in life.
Our memories and experiences make up our personal dictionary, the meanings we assign to various events and situations in life. | Source

"The truth is, our lives are too meaning-full. Which is a nice cosmic joke. We tend to think our life's struggle is to find meaning: we want to find meaningful things to do; we worry about the real meaning of life; we worry about the meaningless. Yet it's the accumulation of meanings that causes the very pain we end up having to say F**k It to." - John Parkin, F**k It, The Ultimate Spiritual Way

Is It Wrong?

The quote you see above is from a book I've been reading. While parts of it have helped me tremendously, others have raised some questions. One of the biggest is regarding meanings we assign to things in life.

For instance, I used to look at making the bed in the morning as an indication of how the rest of the day would turn out. When I made it, I felt more in control. The meaning I pulled from the act of making the bed was that the rest of the day would flow smoothly and be organized. On days I did not have time to make the bed, I felt disorganized and like the rest of the day would be a mess. This meaning caused me pain. When I detached from that meaning and could see making the bed as a vibe-lift on days I could do it, and meaning nothing on days I could not, I felt much better.

If you follow the law of attraction, you may understand that everything in life is inherently meaningless. It is the meanings we give to things that animate them for us, that charge them positively or negatively. Of course, we are going to assign meanings because it's how we understand and relate to the world. I don't believe it's something that can be avoided. It isn't wrong or bad to assign meaning. That isn't what Mr. Parkin is suggesting in his book; he's more giving a mechanism for dealing when our assigned meanings become painful for us.


Talismans are good examples of powerful positive meaning that we assign that can drive our intentions forward in physical reality.

I recently ordered a necklace from an energy artist I follow. She does brilliant paintings and makes them available on jewelry. Some feel that wearing a meaningful symbol on themselves can make it more powerful. The necklace charm I purchased features an image of a koi fish, one that has inhabited my dreams and is a symbol for wealth. Since I had the dream about koi fish and have felt drawn to making more income on my own terms, I felt that ordering the necklace was a good move that could super-charge my intention, if you will, to bring more good fortune about in my life.

Anything can be a talisman; it just has to have meaning for you. It is something that makes you feel good when you have it on you. It can make you feel more empowered or as though you are making stronger decisions with your intention in mind. A wedding ring, even, could serve as a talisman to remind you of the infinite nature of your bond to the person you love. If ever you are separated, you could look at that ring or hold it in your palm and feel better, knowing your partner made the ultimate commitment to you.

I suppose pain could come if one were to lose their talisman, especially in the case of the wedding ring. We tend to get attached to things we enjoy or that have seemed to bring us fortune in the past. Aside from that, I see nothing problematic in assigning meaning to a symbol if it helps us in some way, or makes us feel the tiniest bit better. After all, one of the tenets of the law of attraction is that it's important that we feel good as often as possible. It is when we feel good that we are in the best space to solve problems and create a physical reality that we enjoy.

Trauma and the Past Seeming to Repeat

This is where we tend to get into the most trouble with the meanings we assign. When we have been hurt before, abandoned or rejected in some way, that painful memory becomes seared into our subconscious. We may unconsciously "play out" that trauma with others.

If a parent emotionally or otherwise abandoned you when you were young, you may grow up with a belief that love leaves. Your negativity bias is to search for ways that people you love might be becoming more distant to eventually abandon you. You might feel constantly worried about what people are thinking of you. The meaning you assigned to your parent abandoning you was that love is painful and cannot last, or that you aren't good enough to be loved. This is the story you act out in your other relationships too.

You don't have to act this out, though. The first step to recovery is awareness. Becoming aware that you have this story within you, understanding that you don't trust love or feel afraid of it, is key to turning that around. Then you can look for ways to change that belief. Personally, I highly recommend Emotional Freedom Technique therapy.

Some of the meanings we assign are harmful, so they need to be recognized so they can be changed to ones that will be more beneficial.

The Overall Meaning of Life and Lens for Looking at It

Let's get really deep here about meaning and life and God. I believe in God, but I don't think He really gets off on people worshiping Him or wants us all to feel like crusty, dirty sinners. I think He's more a hands-off kind of Guy, letting us try out things with our free will so that we can understand our preferences about the kind of life we want to live. And He lets us make decisions that aren't so great because we need the information from the not-so-great things to help us steer toward the awesome stuff we actually want. He's kind of like a parent who can tell when you're going off-track but doesn't intervene because ultimately, you have to make your choices and learn your lessons. Or maybe He's more like a wise teacher who knows the answer but wants you to arrive there for yourself.

That's the meaning I assign to God and it influences the rest of how I look at life. I don't feel as bad when I mess up. I don't feel like there's a man in the sky judging everything I do and wanting me to feel miserable for every decision I regret. This way of looking at my life is more self-loving for me and helps me always come back better any time I slip. If I looked at every regret as a sign that I'm a sinner and need to be saved, I would probably go even further down the rabbit hole in a hopeless attempt to escape reality.

Whatever your beliefs about God, you can still create a self-loving way of looking at life and the afterlife. The irony of dropping the need to be anything - good, fit, thin, happy, healthy, etc. is that when you drop the need, it tends to happen on its own. This is another point that Mr. Parkin and I agree on in his book, F**k It. We assign meaning to the things we think will help us achieve our goals and become better humans, another instance of when meaning can become painful and more a hindrance than a help.

Meaning and Pain

So, is meaning the root of all pain? Well, in many ways, yes. But once you realize this, you can get a better handle on it and use meaning to drive you forward. You can see which meanings weren't serving you and either delete them or alter them to suit your highest good.

Through this, you can save your relationships, ditch work stress, get better sleep, and overall feel like a more balanced person. Yes, all from tweaking that thing that resides in your skull. How you do so is up to you, but rest assured that it can be done.

I have never met Mr. Parkin and therefore he has never asked me to endorse his book, but it's a good place to start.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Holley Hyler


Submit a Comment
  • Ericdierker profile image

    Eric Dierker 

    3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

    This is well done on a very interesting word of meaning. I think I see a little problem become big when partners attach to much meaning. Sometimes it just is. Not some deep meaning.

    Good stuff here.

  • Tory Peta profile image

    Tery Peta 

    3 months ago from Bulgaria

    Giving meaning to everything is a very typical human trait. Even though it sometimes causes pain, we cannot get rid of our nature. I believe many will continue giving meaning to things that do not need it. However, we can use meaning in a good way that serves us. Great article, Holley.

  • Holley Hyler profile imageAUTHOR

    Holley Hyler 

    3 months ago from Upstate New York

    Thank you, John!

  • Jodah profile image

    John Hansen 

    3 months ago from Queensland Australia

    Great article, full of wise advice, Holley. It sounds like the book by Parkin is worth a read too.


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