• Pam Del Franco aka ASK NANNA

Looking for Symbolic Meaning

I love Jung, ancient symbols, movies about symbols, and observing their meaning in my life.

Sometimes that symbol is seen as a sign from your understanding of God and the Universe. There’s magic in symbolism, but it’s not always esoteric.

You can find meaning just by looking at a circle. Some of you might look at it and see the circle of life, some of you might see everything you hold dear being protected by the circle, and some of you might see the math of zero.

Everything that we notice about that circle is based on our experiences, judgments, knowledge, and mostly, our point of view.

Notice what comes up for you when you imagine a circle, it’s likely quite different from other people you know.

We can certainly join the collective unconscious and agree on some symbols, and that’s fine. I’m talking about when we look at a sign and think it’s about the other person’s behavior.

Like in relationships, I could look at someone who is in a relationship I know that wouldn’t work for me. I would interpret that as a sign that they were sent to me to observe and that my relationship was ‘the’ one.

On the other hand, they could look at my lousy relationship and see it as a sign of how lucky they were. So, basically, it’s a point of view that can change at any time and one that’s not necessarily based in reality. (For example, their relationship could be full anger, but it’s not shown to the general public. Or like the influencers of today, you don’t really know what’s going on behind the camera.)

Back in the day, I placed symbolic meaning to my relationship that had little or no bearing on what was actually going on. I used to take it as a sign that he really loved me because he showed up! (Yes, you read that right, sad to say). I had been busy waiting, praying, and asking for a sign. Then the part of me that was wounded found that sign when he called.

What was happening was that I was placing a massive amount of meaning around a simple act (him showing up) because it was resonating deeply with a painful event from my past.

My mother abandoned all of us when I was about four years old. Years of learning from many different modalities (psychotherapy and spiritual), I understood that I was re-enacting that feeling of abandonment in my relationship.

But what I didn’t get was why.

I couldn’t see how I could remember that painful event, know it had some bearing on my relationship, and yet continue to stay with someone that made me feel the same way.

It’s because I wasn’t able to see the deeper connection. Yes, I felt abandoned and alone, but I also felt unworthy of love. And that’s what showed up over and over again in the fourteen years we were together. I just couldn’t see past the symbolic meaning I placed on it.

Yes, symbols exist and can offer significant meaning for you in a relationship. Your partner buys you a ring, or you keep something from a trip you made together, all treasured symbols of being together.

But that also needs to be balanced with making sure you are in the reality of it as well.

Perhaps your partner bought you a ring but mistreats you. Or you keep a trinket from a joyful event but ignore the not-so-good memory that gave you insight into their future behavior.

You want it to work so badly that you can’t see past the sign. That part of you is the area you’re most likely to find your wounded self. To want a relationship is a beautiful thing, to need it to work when it clearly isn’t, not so much.

Anyone in a long-term relationship knows it takes work. (There are great coaches and therapists to help with couple counseling). I’m talking about finding meaning where there isn’t any or applying the wrong message to the symbol because it resonates with your past woundedness.

So, if you’re relationship isn’t as full and loving as you would like it to be, maybe it’s time to see the symbolic meaning or sign that resides inside of you. Perhaps that’s what you’ve been seeing but keep applying it to your partner. It’s likely you haven’t made the connection to the painful event of your past that is influencing your relationship, and the signs you see are for that. (Like when I used to see healthy relationships when I was in a crappy one. I took it as a sign that mine was more loving because it was more challenging, and I was more supportive than those other women who seemed to have it easy. Ugh, I was deep into martyr mentality.)

It’s ok to want to see symbols and signs but you need to be able to apply them to your life without your old wound driving the bus. You can shift from putting up with less than you deserve to fully express what you need in a way that makes you and your partner closer.