THE DIFFERENCE ONE LIFE CAN MAKE
VICTOR FRANKL: EMERGING FROM THE HOLOCAUST TO GIVE LIFE A WHOLE NEW MEANING – THE TRIUMPH OF THE INDOMITBLE HUMAN SPIRIT.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing the last of human freedoms- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way”
Is there a meaning to life? Are we just biological creatures originating from a mere sexual intercourse between a man and a woman? – some births planned for and wanted; still some unplanned and unwanted and others a product of rape. Can there be meaning to the suffering that pierces the heart and into the soul as the result of the actions of another? Is life really fair with all the injustices and cruelty of the oppressor and oppressive environment which we find ourselves entangled and the deprived conditions of life in which some were born into?Can there be any meaning to the pain in our souls which we mask from others but sob in private? What benefits can be derived from sufferings? I mean can there be any meaning to the inhumane sufferings which nobody really seems to care about but are entangled in their selfish desires and self-centered ambitions? Can you ever live a life of meaning in a world wrapped up in selfishness and cruelty? Could there be any threshold to the suffering and trials that humans can take?
The Holocaust was one of the most dreadest era in history; it was the World War II genocide of the European Jews between 1941-1945. Spearheaded by Adolph Hitler, Nazi Germany and its collaborators strategically, murdered about six million Jews around two-thirds of Europe’s Jewish population. The horrific murders were carried out in pogroms and mass shootings; extermination through work in concentration camps; and in gas chambers and gas vans in German extermination camps.
CHOOSE EMPOWERING BELIEFS
Victor Frankl was raised in the tradition of Freudian psychology which believes that whatever happens to you as a child shapes your character and personality and basically governs your whole life. Consequently, you become “helpless” to change your life.
However, Victor Frankl refused to buy into this theory of “powerlessness”.
Because it is a popular and accepted belief does not mean that it is the truth. “Everyone does it” does not equate that it is right. Tradition does not represent superior wisdom and cultural practices does not indicate best practices.Until you consciously or deliberately choose your beliefs, you will unconsciously or by default live out and be held down by the “script” handed over to you by your parents; society; other people’s agenda and past conditioning.
In 1942, Frankl and his parents, wife and brother were arrested and sent to the concentration camp. Victor Frankl began facing series of tragedies. His father died within six months in the concentration camp. Over the course of 3 years Frankl was moved between four concentration camps including Auschwitz where his brother died and his mother was killed.Frankl’s wife died at Bergen-Belsen.
Victor Frankl suffered horrific tortures living in uncertainty from moment to moment not knowing if he will be sent to the gas ovens to die or if his life will be spared to remove the bodies or shovel out the ashes of the dead.
When Frankl’s camp was liberated in 1945, he realized that all his immediate family members had died with the exception of his sister who had escaped to Australia.
THE EUREKA EXPERIENCE
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom”
On a fateful day while in the concentration camp, naked and alone in a small room, Victor Frankl began to become aware of what he later called, “the last of the human freedoms”- the freedom that his oppresors (the Nazi’s captors) could not destroy or take away.They could torture his body but they could not damage or destroy his soul; they could control the environment but they could not control his mind; they could treat him with disdain but they could not take away his identity -his essence.He alone decided how all that was happening around him and what was happening to him was going to affect him. In other words, he never permitted what was happening around him and what was happening to him to determine what was happening in him.
Victor Frankl during the period of his life’s greatest ordeal in the concentration camps would envision himself lecturing to his students after his release from the death camps; in his imagination he saw himself imparting to his students all that he had learnt from his gruelling and torturing experience. He immersed his mind in the thought processes of his contribution to life after his release as a result of what he had been through.
One of the greatest powers available exclusively to humans is the Power to Choose: the power to choose life or death; the power to choose health or disease; the power to choose riches or poverty; the power to choose wisdom or foolishness; the power to choose success or failure. Nobody and nothing can take away your freedom of the power to choose but only you can relinquish your power to choose (which is also a choice) through ignorance, irresponsibility or fear. You are never powerless. You are an Inherently Powerful Being.
PAIN TRANSFORMED INTO PURPOSE
“A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life, I saw the truth as it is set into song by some poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and highest goal to which man can aspire”
The horrific experiences and the inhumane suffering did not bear the root of bitterness and hatred in the heart of Victor Frankl, neither did he engage in self-pity and sink into depression but ratherhe looked beyond himself and cared for others in the death camp. He became a beacon of hope and a great inspiration to those around him and even to some of the guards.He helped others find meaning in their suffering and dignity in their dungeon existence.
You either wallow in pain or your life’s purpose swallows up the pain. You either focus on your pain or you focus on the gain that emanates from the pain. You either allow the root of bitterness take root in your heart or you allow the healing balm of God’s love soothe your wounded soul. You either engage in self-pity or you become a powerful influence for good. You either live for yourself or you live beyond yourself. You either emerge a conqueror from the trials of life or you play the victim and end up a loser in the trials of life. How you see life will determine your response to life which shapes the outcome of your life.
BEYOND THE BODY
Victor Frankl thought that during extreme physical circumstances, a person could escape through his or her spiritual self as a means to survive seemingly unbearing conditions. He believed that spiritual self could not be affected by external forces.
You are a spiritual being living in a body. To understand this truth is to grasp your essence. To live out this truth is to rule in life and to live out this truth you must continually nourish your spiritual self to wax stronger on a daily basis to dominate or control the body. To be led from the inside-out is to live in victories. To be led from the outside-in is to live in defeat.
DISCOVER “WHY YOU ARE?”
“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life, everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”
Until you discover “Why you are?” you will live in an illusion of “who you are?” Until life becomes a meaningful ideal, life will become a meaningless ordeal. Until you discover your life’s purpose, you will misuse and abuse your existence. Until time is highly valued, life will be undervalued and wasted.
“Ever more people today have the means to live, but no meaning to live for”.
- Victor Frankl.
Victor Frankl authored over thirty-nine books including “Man’s Search for Meaning” . “Man’s Search for Meaning” was listed as one of the ten most influential books in the United States by the Library of Congress. Decades later today, it shows up consistently on Amazon’s Top 100 Books list and is recommended as one of Amazon’s Top 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime.
He was a professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna from 1948-1990 and served as a guest professor at Universities including Harvard, Southern Methodist and Duquesne, he received dozens of honorary degrees.
He also lectured around the world.
THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU
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About the Author
Udeme Archibong is a prolific writer, an astute communicator and a model of excellence. Her writings have made profound impact on thousands of lives around the world through her blog: successrecipeblog.com, which has followings in over 70 countries in continents of the world.
She is a Self-Development Expert, who passionately works towards helping people maximize their destinies.
At some point, she was a motivational columnist, writing Success Recipe and Destiny Catalyst, for two Nigerian national newspapers, Vanguard and ThisDay, respectively. She is the initiator of the Revolution Series Seminars