Viktor Frankl was a world-famous Austrian psychologist who survived Auschwitz and Dachau, two Nazi death camps. While his theory about the central importance of having meaning in one’s life had already taken shape in his mind, his insights only sharpened during his imprisonment. He wrote them out on bits of stolen paper, and they became the basis of his work, Man’s Search for Meaning. The book has become one of the ten most influential books in the United States (according to a survey by the Library of Congress). But it is in another book by Frankl, entitled Yes to Life, that I found a searing passage completely consistent with the Pain-2-Power formula for enhancing or remaking one’s life:
What has come through to us from the past? Two things: everything depends on the individual human being, regardless of how small a number of like-minded people there is, and everything depends on each person, through action and not mere words, creatively making the meaning of life a reality in his or her own being.
These sentiments are woven into the foundation of Pain-2-Power because I have long believed that each of us—as an individual—has a purpose in this life and that each of us must identify it and act on it, in order to feel self-actualized and content. Another reason each of us must identify and act upon our purpose in life is because we owe it to others. The teaching you offer students, the art you create, the scientific inquiry you launch, the legal defense you mount for a defendant, the political campaign you wage, the doctoring you do, the family you raise, the religious mission you embark upon or the product you take to market are all offerings, provided they speak to your heart of hearts.
What’s more, the purpose we pursue in life can be pursued with more or less vigor. And there is no reason to hold back. Sure, it is normal to look for data supporting the notion that you are on the “right path.” But, too often, even in the face of lots of such data, we doubt ourSELVES, when we should believe in ourselves.
Where does self-doubt come from? Most often, it comes from the imperfect nature and suboptimal lessons taken from prior experiences and relationships. Few among us are encouraged to express ourselves optimally. Most of us have encountered some amount of negativity from others during our formative years. That negativity, taken to heart, creates internal resistance to our own best possibilities.
It is also frequently the case that we misinterpret initial setbacks in pursuing our heartfelt goals as evidence that our goals are the wrong ones. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is common to encounter hurdles on the way to any finish line. In fact, the bigger your dream the more likely that there will be setbacks on the way to achieving it. Expect them. Don’t be defeated by them.
Another quote may be helpful here, this one from Friedrich Holderlin, the German poet and philosopher:
If I step onto my misfortune, I stand higher.
Believe in yourSELF. Believe in your dreams. Pursue them with vigor. Expect setbacks. They are normal. Reset and move forward, boldly.
Dr. Keith Ablow