Monday, April 8, 2013
Finding Meaning in Suffering
“We must never forget that we may also find meaning in life even when confronted with a hopeless situation, when facing a fate that cannot be changed. For what then matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a personal tragedy into a triumph, to turn one's predicament into a human achievement. When we are no longer able to change a situation - just think of an incurable disease such as inoperable cancer - we are challenged to change ourselves.”-Victor Frankl
Sometimes things happen in our lives that leave us crying on the floor for hours. We aren’t only sad; we are devastated and full of despair- the worst of all feelings. We can’t see any good of a situation. Maybe we just feel like our lives have no purpose or we just lost a loved one. Though I can’t give you a magic pill that makes everything better, I can offer you some information I have learned about logotherapy.
Logotherapy was created by Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning. He is a Holocaust survivor who lost his wife and most of his family in the camps. He is also a neurologist, psychiatrist, and an amazing human being.
The basic principles of logotherapy:
· - Despite even the most miserable circumstances, life has meaning.
· -The main motivation to live is to find meaning in life
· - It us up to us to use our mind’s freedom to find meaning in what we do and what we experience, or at least how we deal with suffering that is unchangeable.
If you have experienced despair or a tragedy, it might be hard to take in any of the above principles right away. However, if you are open to them, I do believe that after some time you can find meaning to life again. There are many examples of how people have found meaning in tragedy’s that at first seem meaningless. For instance, the beautiful (inside and out) Rachel Scott was killed in the mass shooting at Columbine High School. Her dad and step-mom were both devastated (there’s not much worse than losing a child), but they created a student empowerment program called Rachel’s Challenge. “Rachel's Challenge is a series of student empowering programs and strategies that equip students and adults to combat bullying and allay feelings of isolation and despair by creating a culture of kindness and compassion”
A less tragic example would be me. No, I didn't suffer a huge tragedy, but at one point in my life I was filled with complete despair. Despair means to lose all hope. For moments, I did. I won’t go into why or what I did, but I will tell you I now appreciate and love who I am because of those past moments. I’m a more caring, compassionate, and kind human being because of it. It helps me to understand where other people are coming from, and sometimes even allows me to help them. I now find meaning in my life for those reasons.
Additionally, I’d like to dedicate this post to my Aunt Barb and Uncle Ronnie who both passed away from cancer. Even when dealing with the worst of cancer, they were two of the most loving, caring, and seriously funny people I knew. They made me believe that the people subjected to tragedies or unfortunate events are the people strong enough to find meaning in the situation. Now, every time I face some misfortune, I remind myself that “God”/ the universe won’t give me a situation that I can’t handle.
Hopefully, I have not upset anyone by my words. My only intentions are to help. As I was writing this I kept thinking about the women being tortured in other countries and almost stopped writing. Then I remembered women like Mukhtar Mai who get raped and then start things like this: http://www.mukhtarmai.org/ .
Even in your darkest of days, your life has meaning.