Exploring Symbolism in Everyday Life

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

No one set out to invent symbolism – it has always existed in daily life, quietly waiting to be noticed. In fact, our connection to symbolism goes one step further with the ubiquitous ability to unconsciously notice signs and make inferences from them. Symbolism in daily life aids us with communicating clearly and it reinforces the emotional connections you have with the people in your life. You just have to notice what’s around you! Here are some tips that will help you better perceive symbols in your everyday activities.

Looking at the Professional Symbols…

In the business world, it can be difficult to feel like an asset to the company or to know that your actions are meaningful and making a difference to those around you. If you are like me, perhaps you don’t like attention. Being the center of attention is the last thing that I ever want, but I was once put in a situation where I was the center of attention, and as embarrassed and nervous as I was, it made me extremely happy because I felt very valued.

There are two cents of what happened -- Years ago, I was at a hospital Christmas party, in which traditionally employees are publicly recognized for their efforts and talent. During the party, the management team held an awards ceremony to celebrate their best workers and reward them for their hard work. When I heard my name, I froze and suddenly felt my ears burning! The attention was overwhelming me, but I found the courage to walk in front of my peers and colleagues to collect my award – “The symbol of my success”. I felt embarrassed by the attention, but grateful and appreciative of the symbol, which wonderfully reinforced my commitment and became a lifelong memory.

Feeling superior is an issue, similar to feeling inferior, directly linked with self-esteem. Although our self-esteem affects us on a daily basis, the truth is that it is formed since we are young. My professional experience has shown me that self-esteem is directly associated with the environment fostered in the home.

The formation of self-esteem is a process that starts from when we are children, motivated by the social guidelines taught from the moment that we show signs of understanding.

From this experience, what I learned is to stop feeling a ‘real' shame and begin to feel comfortable with the recognition when it comes in the form of a symbol. Acceptance!

I love the Symbolism of Love…

As relationships grow and thrive, people don’t always speak their emotions, rather, they look for signs such as little moments and movements that may mean the relationship is going to another, higher level. We’ve all done it, and we’ve all looked for them! The most common and well known is the toothbrush. Once your toothbrush remains at your significant others place, you have planted roots, meaning the relationship is on course to flourish. The toothbrush acts as a symbol of permanency and comfort in love. It reaffirms the relationship by making the jump from sporadic dates to a steady courtship with a tangible future. When we talk about an electric toothbrush, then it's the king of all symbols (this is serious)!

Another symbol that speaks volumes is the offering of the house key from a significant other. The key not only literally opens the door to a shared home, but also figuratively opens the door to a shared love. While the tangible symbol, the key, is a big deal, it’s the emotion behind it that truly defines the relationship.

Beyond the gifts or the romantic surprises, there is an ancestral rite called "offering the key." The truth is that this ritual has fascinated me forever, making me think that this happened only with the love of your life. However, this conception of reality is increasingly remote from what the real world is...

The curious Symbols of Security…

When a couple decides it’s time to make their relationship a legal one and get married, do things change? For sure! They go from being boyfriend and girlfriend to fiancées (I just love this French word). This title change becomes a uniform of sorts - women wear their engagement ring as a symbol of their commitment as a magical ritual before marriage. The engagement ring pairs with the wedding ring at the ceremony, doubling up the love and security symbolism. As you reach your monumental anniversary milestones, additional bands can be added to reinforce the symbolism of the engagement and wedding rings.

But let's not forget the icing on the cake, the wedding photographs! This is the best of the best, because just the couple can deeply appreciate it. As a ritual that no one can escape from, after the event, some need more than 30 days remembering every detail about what happened as a symbol of reliability. So, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., is full of all the above mentioned, tying down the "followers" to respond actively with the famous symbol "like"! The romantic in me really enjoys viewing these symbols of love and I appreciate that we have the technology that allows us to share for people like me with old souls.

All too frequently, symbolism dances by unnoticed, lost in the bustle of daily life. If you step back and look at the scene around you, especially in the most emotionally-charged moments, you will see symbols waiting for you to take notice - so pay attention!