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Changing Ourselves

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” -- A sentiment attributed to Viktor Frankl he was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author, and Holocaust survivor. He was the founder of logotherapy, a school of psychotherapy which describes a search for a life meaning as the central human motivational force.

As I sit with this quote from Frankl, I wonder about the importance of recognizing our situations. What we are in control of, what we don’t have control over, and how to proceed regardless of our circumstance? Whether we recognize our generational trauma inherited by our family of origin, remember trauma from our past, or reflect on recent traumatic events, I ask you, the reader, to consider what it means to “change ourselves.” What does change look like in our lives when faced against adversity?

In the midst of circumstances, I look inward through my faith and ask how I can reframe my current situation. Sometimes, I conclude that a situation I’m a part of is not of my making and thus wonder how I can alter/adjust the immediate environment around me. Other times, I recognize that the situation was of my literal making and doing and thus ask myself what I can address about myself to make the situation more palatable. In either outlook, I desire to see what I can learn from a situation as a means to foster change - a kind of difference in the environment.

Where do you fit into this framework? If you don't, what do you recognize as you read this post?

To navigate these questions or realizations, I make time to journal about the circumstances at hand. If journaling isn’t readily available, I make time to optimize a spiritual practice like meditation or prayer. And if I’m in a space where I need to externalize it in physical space, I might do something like make art while listening to music or text/call/email/meet-up with a support. My challenge to you today is to make time to ponder Frankl’s observation, see how it can apply to you, and make space to process such things this week. As you make time for pondering your relationship to change, you might be surprised at what emerges.


Lou Lim, LMHC, REAT is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.

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