Most people seek out therapy or counseling during times of crisis – such as acute problems in love relationships, grief and loss, feelings of debilitating anxiety or panic, or urgent career issues. However, many individuals are also confronted with chronic feelings of emptiness and lack of happiness.
Such individuals may have all material creature comforts but nonetheless feel that nothing truly makes them happy. They may have the perfect partner, family, great friends, a fulfilling career. But they struggle with the very real and human feeling that no outside influence is able to provide any true meaning to their lives. Sooner or later they may come to the realization that they must search for meaning and happiness inside of themselves.
What is the meaning of life? Where can we find it? This question reaches further than any therapy. But therapy or counseling can certainly help start or advance the journey to the answer(s). I recommend that anyone who has suffered a lack of happiness for a significant amount of time should ask themselves these questions:
- Have I lost the ability to feel joy?
- Have I lost interest in activities or things I used to enjoy?
- Do I feel guilt or resentment, but I don’t know why or against whom?
- Do I feel anxious or restless for no apparent reason?
- Am I obsessed with perfection?
- Do I always have to be better or more successful than others?
- Have I lost hope?
If the answer to one or more of these questions is “yes”, it may be good time for you to explore the option of therapy or counseling. The goal of therapy may not be to reach ultimate happiness, but rather to remove barriers and inhibitions on the way to finding it.
I believe the poet Rainer Maria Rilke captured the very human struggle to find meaning perfectly when he wrote:
“Be patient toward all that is unresolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves. Do not now seek the answers which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them now. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps, you will then gradually without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”
I am a Houston psychologist and I work with both couples and individuals. Call me for a free consultation at 713-364-8328 or visit DrGortner.com for more information on my services.