A Meaningful Recovery

“It’s dangerous to feel empty inside. If you’re feeling empty for too long, you start to believe that you are empty and the world is empty too. And if everything is empty, then what’s the point of living?” Tara Richards age 18

“The meaning of life.”
This phrase is used a lot in the field of Positive Psychology. It is a phrase that scares many people, especially those who struggle with mental illness - people like me, who feel this nagging emptiness and long for something to fill us up, to make life purposeful again.

I believe that we are not asking ourselves the right questions to cure what we think are our hollow beings. So often, we think “what SHOULD I do with my life”? This question suggests that we are turning to others in the world to make meaning for us instead of us creating meaning for ourselves.

Evidence has shown that having meaning in life actually boosts mental health and encourages feelings of connectedness to others. So, let’s think about our practice at Ontario Shores. How can we help our patients find meaning in their lives - without creating this for them? The answer to the question of meaning is in all of us to find.

While we should not create meaning for our patients, we can certainly help. Treatment that focuses on rekindling sparks from good times in a person’s life would be beneficial, to remind our patients that they have felt good before and they will feel good again.

We need to really question ourselves when offering treatment. For example: WHY are we facilitating this group? HOW might this provide meaning to the patients? I must admit that I have often thought of this during our Peer Support Groups - are we just planning activities to distract or are we planning activities to really engage? Our patients need our help to find purpose, passion and ultimately, meaning in life.

It’s not just the patients who need this help. At some point in our lives we might have all felt that we were just coasting along, completely unaware of our purpose, our destiny and how to make it a reality. So I encourage you (before New Year resolutions are made) to search for meaning this year in your own life.  Then make it a priority to facilitate treatment that our patients will find not only interesting, but purposeful, while on their recovery journey.

Happy Holidays everyone!