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In the last email I was talking about the general circumstance of someone feeling like there was no escape from some situation (and thus hopeless, trapped, or desperate). While there are a lot of life problems that can lead someone to feeling that way, there is a special version that deserves attention.

The warning sign where someone is lacking a sense of meaning or purpose reflects an existential or philosophical situation. When someone is at a loss for identifying a more spiritual type of reason(s) for living, then it can be especially personal and painful.

Finding a sense of meaning and purpose was listed as one of the core values in the suicide prevention guidance from attempt survivors found in The Way Forward.

The questions that are missing answers are things like “Why am I here?” or “What is the meaning of life?” and there are no easy answers. However, the underlying questions are “How do I know that I am valuable?” and “Is my life worth continuing?”

While we want to help them identify reasons for living, there is also the question of what happened to the previous reasons for living. What meaning or purpose that was held before now seems lost? What changed its value or caused it to be given up as lost?

This exploration also presents an opportunity because when someone is seeking meaning and purpose it is an ideal time to engage in activities related to post-traumatic growth. Finding meaning in traumatic experiences, and drawing purpose from pain can lay the groundwork for incredible personal development.

I would love to learn from your experience too. What recovery insights have you encountered or discovered in working with clients who felt like they had lost their sense of meaning or purpose?