Some would argue that societal constraints are racist, sexist, ageist, suffocating, etc. “You’re not the boss of me!” has become somewhat of an anthem as individuals and groups fight for their right to choose, well everything and anything- or nothing.
This independent, free-for-all, to-each-his-own value system and mentality can mean a loss of “normal” for those living within said society. And without some general sense of “normal,” we have nothing to strive for - or rebel against.
Anomie. The term coined by Emile Durkheim to describe a state of being in society whereby the collective agreements on standards of individual behaviors and values regarding civil and moral laws have deteriorated into nothing. He discovered that this lack of purpose, lack of shared values, can leave us feeling aimless, ungrounded, confused, restless, and even suicidal. Simply put, we need to belong to something greater than ourselves. Otherwise, we feel lost, alone and without purpose (even if our purpose is to rebel- what is left to rebel against if everything is a ‘go’?)
If our lives don’t have meaning, we suffer. Society suffers. This is why we must find meaning, not only in life, but in suffering. When we allow ourselves to enter into the idea that these two seemingly opposing concepts can unite, that we can belong to something greater by finding meaning in our suffering, we can begin to find peace.
How, though? How do we find purpose and unite in suffering? We have to get outside of ourselves. We have spent far too long looking within, meeting our own needs, fighting for our own rights and demanding that our own voices be heard. And, we have seen the unintended consequences- a disconnected, confused, hurting society.
It’s time to step into someone else’s world. Meet a very different person right where they are- not to accept everything they do and believe, and not to persuade them into your way of thinking. No.
Meet a very different person and just learn their story. Experience their pain. Feel the pain of another. When we can touch the heart of a stranger, when we can share the human experience, we can begin to feel connected again. And isn’t this at least one meaningful reason for our own individual suffering?
Photo credit: Getty Images
The Motley Ms.
Hi! My name is Melinda. I'm a saved-by-grace-er, lifelong learner, INFJ, health & fitness trynabe, Mom, #vanlifer, mental health vlogger, and Director & Clinical Supervisor at a Child & Family Therapy Practice in Northern California.
The Motley Ms
The Therapist's Therapy Blog