The great psychiatrist Viktor Frankl had a lot to say about living life on life's terms. He said that if you want to suffer, then you go about your life demanding people and things be a certain way. Many people suffer unnecessarily in their lives because they think life should be the way they want it, rather than how it is.
What exactly are life’s terms? I would contend to say that they are the conditions determining what it means to truly live. The reality is that for many, living on life’s terms is a tall order that at times can be very overwhelming and may seem impossible. After all, dealing with people, places, and things which we have no control over is a daunting task at best. Especially if you grew up in a dysfunctional or abusive home. Growing up in an abusive or dysfunctional home often times results in as Freud refers the “Id,” which is the primitive and instinctual part of the mind that contains sexual and aggressive drives and hidden memories, and the super-ego which operates as a moral conscience, attempting to live life on their own terms, as was the case for me. Fortunately, we have our ego, which is the realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego. Unfortunately, when we are in the mist of our dysfunction, the id and the super-ego will win out over our ego.
No matter what we are faced with in life we have two choices; to accept it or deny it. If we are not accepting it, we are fighting it and we are fighting it because it is out of our control. We are at war in a dangerous place, our minds and it is a battle we can never win. When we are fighting something, we are trying to control. It will emotionally and spiritually drain all of our energy. No matter how much we fight, we can’t change the past or control the future. The past is over, and we cannot re-shoot the cannon ball. We must let go of past mistakes and regrets and accept who we are, what we have done and the consequences of our actions of the past. As far as the future, that’s in God’s hands and all we can do is the footwork required on our part and leave the rest to God. Acceptance does NOT MEAN APPROVAL!
Now, you might be asking, “Randy how did we learn to live life as we have been living it?” Great question. Before I go further let me say this. You are where you are today because of your actions, the only actions you knew how to act out. You might have given in to the negative names and disrespect your parents cast upon you and turned to a life of substance abuse and crime, which landed you in prison. You might have been like me, where you were or are
constantly trying or have tried to prove yourself to your parents or friends that believed you would amount to nothing. The consequences are usually two-fold for this. You might have climbed to the top of a Fortune 500 business, however in the process you lost everything in life that was precious to you. Please understand that these thoughts are at a subliminal level.
Like everything else in life, our actions, reactions and behaviors are all learned behavior. If you grew up in an abusive or dysfunctional home, I am sure that you were exposed to plenty of living life on team dysfunction. For instance, mom or dad get terminated from a job or they get a promotion; lets drink and drown our sorrows in pile victimhood. Or, let’s drink and celebrate the future of my new position and all we will be able to do. The death of a loved one can lead to several different ways of dealing with the loss of a loved one. When I was twelve-years old my father died. I was allowed to go see him in the funeral parlor and go to the funeral. However, after the funeral at my grandmother’s house, my mother insisted that my cousins take my brother and I to get Baskin & Robbins 31 Flavors Ice Cream and to keep us occupied for a couple of hours. I wasn’t allowed to be there with the adults I loved and needed. My mother didn’t know how to deal with my pain. To this day I still love Baskin & Robbins and every time I go there, I think of dad. These are just a few of the ways I was taught to live.
The reality is that many people will live their lives in ways I stated above, even creating more dysfunction to it. Then there are those, like me, that run into a roadblock and life as we have been living it fails us badly. That life for me was one filled with alcohol, drugs, manipulation, resentment, unforgiveness, fear, hate, and rage. It was time to look myself in the mirror. Look at the person I had become, the damage I had caused. I had to make a decision if I was going to continue down the wide and easy path or choose the narrow and difficult road to a new way of living, which meant I had a lot of work to do. I will discuss some of that work in Part 2 of this article next week.
 12 Steps of AA. Addiction Recovery (Life After Treatment). Geoff Thompson, Suffering, Viktor Frankl, By Jordan Casey