We all find ourselves in dark places at times in our lives. It can be a more formal depression, but many losses – of those we love, ideas we had to let go of, people who we were, etc. – can leave us adrift and questioning fundamental parts of our lives.
In trying to find a way out we or those trying to guide us will often look for the root of the problem to fix or extract it. This can be helpful and sometimes teaches us important things about ourselves. However, it often is nebulous as to whether we have found this root. How do we know where the bottom is? Do we really need to know where the bottom is?
When lost in the dark it is often meaning that we are lacking. The meaning, the hope, we thought we could count on is now gone and we have no waypoint to look towards. So, instead of digging to fix or extract the perceived problem searching for new meaning in our life can light the way to a new self.
A beautiful story that I love is one of the African Violet Queen, told by one of my favourite therapists Bill O’Hanlon. It is a true story of a woman who lived in 1950’s Chicago and who was helped by Bill’s mentor, the great psychotherapist, Milton Erickson. Below is the video, which tells the whole story, but the main point of it is summed up in the one statement that Dr Erickson said to Bill many years ago as to why he chose to help her the way he did:
I thought it would be easier to grow the African violet parts of her life than to weed out the depression.
Rather than trying to fix the loss or cure the pathology it is often finding new things to live for and get excited about that saves us. Meaning is one of the most important things for humans to flourish. To lose it sets us adrift and to find it anew can change our whole life.
What provides you with deep meaning in your life? If you can’t answer this you might want to start looking. If it is already not inside of you, see where you can give in the world. Helping, serving, bettering the world around us and those whom we share it with may be the way back to yourself.