Monday Mottoes – #168
Dr. Viktor Frankl, Viennese psychiatrist and neurologist and author of the bestseller Man’s Search for Meaning, was a Holocaust survivor. Working with suicidal patients before and after the war, and one could say during the war when some thought of taking their own lives, Dr. Frankl arrived to his conclusions answering the question: what makes certain hardy souls perish and certain weaker-appearing souls survive the same horrors?
It is the internal dialog and the sense of purpose or meaning, a reason for living that helps us through the most dire circumstances.
I was reviewing his work recently due to some elderly friends. This couple, in their late 70s, had a son in his early 50s who most likely committed suicide. It wasn’t an obvious death, probably an overdose, yet most of his life had been a cry for help. The father, a very caring individual, treated all of his son’s failures and struggles as his own. Even now, after the son’s death, the father had no peace.
He needs to gain— or regain— a purpose for living. Benedetto goes to visit him, I make him containers of home cooked soup, the kids write cards and once even went to the movies with him. His wife is no doubt suffering, as well, and she’s always included, but he’s the big teddy bear of the family.
Frankl argues that depression stems from self-absorption and, that when we turn our focus to others, we do better. I would tend to agree, which brings us to today’s motto:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” ~Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
With a shift in awareness, Frankl’s work in logotherapy assisted clients facing the most dire of circumstances to move from attitudes of victimization to optimism. This profound idea, that we can choose what we want in life by choosing a new attitude when it comes to how we view suffering or deprivation, leads to transformation.
What do we really desire in life and what attitudes and behaviors will support us and help to take us there, no matter what the circumstances? The power of love, the power of spiritual belief, the power of suffering— he covers it all.
I suggest you pick up a copy of his book if you’ve never read it. As someone who has gone through the fire and came back to bear witness, it can have a profound impact on those of us going through life’s challenges which often pale in comparison to the Holocaust. The ability to harness what’s on the inside to survive and thrive through what’s happening on the outside is powerful indeed.
Happy Monday, everyone!
—————Tags: attitudes that support us in life, choose your attitude, choosing to live, depression stems from self-absorption, from victimization to optimism, harness what's on the inside to survive, Man's Search for Meaning, power of internal dialog, thriving no matter the circumstances, Viktor Frankl's logotherapy