For What It's Worth...Your Search For Meaning

For What It’s Worth…Your Search For Meaning

Therapy is way more than a toolbox of intervention. Information alone cannot replace professional help. However, information can be very powerful. So, for what it’s worth to you, here is the weekly post offering a therapeutic idea, concept, or intervention that you can try out in your own life or relationships.

Viktor Frankl, psychotherapist and holocaust survivor, developed a therapeutic model that he called “logotherapy”. Frankl offers an introduction of his model through his famous book Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he shares about his holocaust experience. Some say that his book is one of the ten most influential books in American history.

The gist of logotherapy is expressed in the title of his famous book, which is largely personal narrative from his experiences. Even the most horrific atrocities and unbearable experiences can be transcended and overcome when meaning can be found in their midst.

Frankl determined based on his own painful experiences that the ultimate quest of man is to find meaning in his or her existence…no matter how terrible that existence might be.

Logotherapy basically believes that all of life has meaning, our main drive is to find it, and we have the freedom to find this meaning.

Last week in my “For What It’s Worth” post I encourage an exercise where you list 3-5 positive things. The second part of this exercise involved writing or sharing 1 negative thing, about which you find 3-5 positive things that could come as a result.

Logotherapy encourages you to do the same. Whatever is painful, difficult, traumatic in your life…look for the lessons, the possible positives…the meaning.

A related idea to finding meaning in the challenges of life is the therapeutic idea of “reframing”. Here are some examples of “reframing”:

I am stuck, cooped up at home with the kids because of the snow storms outside.


I get to spend a snuggly, cozy time at home watching movies and making memories around hot chocolate and games because of a snow storm outside.

SAME SITUATION…just “reframed”…cast in a different light…with a different attitude.

I lost my job. Life sucks.


I am being pushed out of the nest to explore dreams I left on the sidelines long ago. I am getting a chance to reinvent myself and face exciting, new challenges.

SAME SITUATION…just “reframed”…cast in a different light…with a different attitude.

My coworkers are evil. I know they are out to get me. I barely make it through each day.


I am getting the chance to learn a lot about people skills and working with difficult people as well as how to take care of myself outside of work. I am going to grow a LOT during this time!

SAME SITUATION…just “reframed”…cast in a different light…with a different attitude.

Our finances are a wreck. We are never going to get out of this hole.


Our finances are forcing us to be honest about our values, make some tough decisions and learn some hard lessons. We will be better for it when all is said and done.

SAME SITUATION…just “reframed”…cast in a different light…with a different attitude.

Of course, it is tough to reframe some situations. In many life circumstances it is difficult to find “meaning”.

Of course, God has always been concerned with meaning. In Deuteronomy 6:20-21 we are told: “In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?” tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.”

In other words: “When your children ask you ‘why?’ you tell them your story…the meaning behind it.”

Romans 8:28 in the New Testament makes a promise about meaning: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him…”

In other words: “No matter what happens there is meaning behind it…there is purpose.”

Finding meaning is hard work. It often involves telling your story to a trusted listener and praying and reading and waiting.

We often do not find it unless we make a point to look for it.

So, for what it’s worth, I encourage you to do the hard work. To talk and pray and trust and read and wait.

Being willing to look for it.

That is often the hardest part…and takes the most courage.