To incorporate new information into our lives, people must make meaning of the new information. This is a very personal and idiosyncratic process in which each individual selects information that aligns with their values and makes sense in their particular context, at work, at home, wherever. If after the initial glow of “hum…?” you can’t make sense of something you are more likely to leave it be.
So what to do when confronted with information that you simply cannot make good sense of, or find rhyme of reason in? Like learning that a beloved friend has been diagnoses with Multiple Sclerosis. This vital, vibrant, determined, funny passionate woman with a wonderful husband, a 3 year old child and an excellent position at a large State University. My heart is adamant, “This does not make sense and it is NOT fair !” My mind tells me, “Life is not fair, get over it.” And all in all I think it stinks- which are not exactly the words I used when she told me. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
She said the next year of living with MS would be as much about understanding what it means to her, to her husband and family for her to live with MS. What meaning will they attach to this new information? I have no idea, but I was struck by the anchoring this sentiment gave my friend. Incorporating this new thing, this new information would be a process for her and her loved ones. It would unfold overtime as she continues to act as a mother, a wife, a lover, a colleague , friend, patient, daughter and all the roles she plays.
One part of the meaning she has made, is to “stop and smell the roses, more.” For her this information is not only about her physical health, but also about how she chooses to act, do and be in the world. She’s not one to run from adversity, frankly she’s been known stir it up when maybe she should not, but she’s using her values of standing-my-ground and focusing-on-what-I-want, to frame things in a positive light. And when the days are not positive, she’ll be able to find that anchor.
What a good reminder to seek out anchors and have them at the ready to help stabilize things when the inevitable lousy days and times roll around. I am going to send her a rose bush to plant in her garden and plant one of the same in mine. I think they will be the prettiest anchors on the block.