02 Jul What Does This Mean To You
I see people for therapy who are really struggling and often they are struggling with things that were brought upon them by circumstances beyond their control. I see people with chronic and terminal illnesses, death of loved ones, loss of relationships, impending divorces, consequences of abuse, and many others. I try my best to help every person who comes through the door. We work hard to change what is possible to change and to come to terms with what is probably unchangeable. At some point along the way, I often ask my clients what their experience is teaching them. I’m careful to say that I am not glad they are going through this difficulty but rather as long as they are, they might as well learn something as a result. This is all about meaning making.
Meaning making is a uniquely human strength that can sometimes take a horrific experience and redeem it by coming to terms with the lessons that are learned from the experience. In some cases, this redemptive experience is even expanded as they find ways of sharing those hard won lessons with others who may be going through the same or similar experiences. One of the more famous people in this later category is Victor Frankel who, as a Holocaust survivor, wrote a very powerful and famous book called Man’s Search for Meaning. He states his reason for writing the book this way:
“I had wanted simply to convey to the reader by way of concrete example that life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones. And I thought that if the point were demonstrated in a situation as extreme as that in a concentration camp, my book might gain a hearing. I therefore felt responsible for writing down what I had gone through, for I thought it might be helpful to people who are prone to despair.”
People prone to despair……know any of those? Have a little in yourself? If so, I encourage you to at some point take on the challenge of meaning making. I’m sorry life has brought despair to you but I hope that will not necessarily be the end of your story.