We unconsciously associate things (cars/clothes/friends/jobs) with having achieved a certain status, whether in our own lives, or in other people’s lives. And while we often associate “status symbol” with a high status (2017 Range Rover + fresh Louboutins = woah that chick’s loaded) the term also applies to various forms of status indications from the lowly of the low (for example, my sister would say black socks in any application) to over the moon awesome and every level in between.
If you’re into mindfulness and self-inquiry and the corresponding rewards, then it’s a very worthwhile pursuit to:
a. Be aware of your instant judgements in relation to status symbols in the moment, and
b. Question the programming behind them. Is this a conscious standard, or one that you’ve acquired unquestioningly simply through living your life?
Just as its prudent to be aware of how we relate to status symbols, there’s also the matter of all other forms of symbols. We are meaning making machines, and it’s very rare to find someone who actually sees things for what they are rather than what they mean to them.
I see black socks. My sister sees a poor accessory choice, which means bad taste, which means basically zero chance of dating her. Ever.
In conversation, she sees someone who compulsively checks their phone as a fellow millennial engaging in acceptable social behaviour. I see someone who’s unaware of the impact that their unconscious social tendencies can have on the energetic flow of a conversation.
Throughout the course of our lives and experiences, we’ve attached meaning to symbols in our minds – what things mean to us – and we live our lives and our days drawing judgements based on those symbols.
It’s an always-running-in-the-background mental process of connect the dots: this means this which means this which unequivocally means this.
Some are conscious of this, and others are not. Some are willing to question these automatically generated assumptions, and others are not.
Being aware of what you connect meaning to can not only allow you to know yourself better and become more familiar with your conditioning, but it can also allow you to question the connections you make, and apply logic and compassion where necessary for a more conscious and happy existence.
Maybe the person checking their phone has a sick parent at home and they’re really worried and distracted but don’t want to say anything because it doesn’t feel appropriate.
Maybe the guy with the black socks is a loving, considerate, and exciting prince of a man who just didn’t have any clean whites.