John's Blog

The Blog of John Gibson, PhD

Spiritual Issues

We all need a sense of meaning, direction, and purpose in our lives. This is what I mean by “spiritual issues.”

Take, for instance, the so-called “mid-life” crisis. What is this if it’s not a crisis of meaning? Questions that were once thought to be settled –- Who am I? What do I stand for? Where I am going? Why am I going? –- come flooding back. When that happens, the result is usually instability. Life keeps moving forward, but for a time, we try to make it go sideways.

(By the way, the mid-life crisis was once thought to universal. But researchers now believe this is no longer the case. Some people sail through mid-life without any stormy weather.)

Or what about the person who struggles to find a true vocation, a “right livelihood” as the buddhists might say. Good work –- meaningful work –- gives a sense of purpose. A job is one thing, but a job that employs our unique talents and strengths is a source of fulfillment, a reason to get up every day. It just feels “right.” But what if you fail to discover your vocation? Where do you fit in the world?

There are probably many different kinds of spiritual issues, but what they all have in common is a concern with the big questions in life. But when these questions go unanswered, or when the old answers have worn out, it’s not uncommon for people to feel distressed.

Therapy can help. Many people mistakenly believe that therapy is only for clinical problems like depression or anxiety or post-traumatic stress. But therapy can actually be quite helpful to the person who is struggling with spiritual issues. Therapy is about creating a narrative of your life, and it’s about finding or rediscovering your soul. In fact, these are the very things that therapy does best.