Five Steps towards Freedom
Dr. Elisabeth Lukas one of the leading practitioners of Logotherapy in her book “The Therapist and the Soul – From fate to Freedom” refers to a process that she developed using five humorous picture cards called “The five bears” which represent the five stages of an ideal response pattern for actual life situations, that can bring about a constructive rethinking of a situation,
Each card represents a stage and is raising a question to answer.
The stages guide a person to move beyond the area of fate towards the personal area of freedom.
For that reason it is important to distinguish the two areas from each other and to concentrate on the area of freedom that is available to us.
People who do this have a big advantage over those who do not.
Those who look at the circumstances of fate are looking at emptiness.
They live in a world which is cemented shut and in which there is nothing to remove and nothing to change.
On the other hand, those who look at their area of freedom, however small it may be, see the many possibilities of the situation and, among those, the one that is most meaningful.
Going through these 5 stages, we tap into our conscience or our “meaning organ” as Viktor Frankl calls conscience.
Our conscience helps us in finding the most meaningful choice out of all the possibilities present in our area of freedom.
The real advantage for those people who primarily perceive their area of freedom is that they have the chance to feel satisfied.
For when we can say that we have done everything possible within our area of freedom, especially what has been “meaningfully possible” then for us “this is good.”
Then we can be satisfied with ourselves, regardless of what our fate may now seem to be.
The feeling “it is good” is, in the last analysis, the awareness that “I have done everything that is possible and meaningful.”
We do not get this awareness if we keep our eyes on the circumstances of fate, because fate will always provide us with a reason to be dissatisfied with something or other. (pg.222)
1. What is my problem?
A problem is, in reality, always an emotional problem caused by sadness, fear, anger, desire, disappointment or other crisis.
It is the emotion associated with the actual situation, and not the situation as such, which causes the problem. For example, if you have been divorced and think:
“Great! I am rid of my partner” then the divorce is not a problem. It becomes a problem when you regret losing the other person, or when you cannot stand the loneliness, or when you now hate the other person. Similarly, when you lose your job and think: “I can finally have a rest!” then unemployment is not a problem. It becomes a problem when you experience feelings of inferiority, fear of the future, and so on. The first stage is standing in front of a stop sign, which is the emotional barrier that is holding the person back on his path through life. To move forward, it is necessary to discern the problem.
2. Where is my area of freedom?
After you have clarified the problem, you allow the spiritual dimension to come through. This spiritual dimension goes beyond all stop signs and barriers and allows a certain area of freedom within one’s inner attitude towards the problem, towards the emotions and towards the given situation. “Where is my area of freedom?” The ones that look for their freedom will find it.
3. What are my possible choices?
When individuals find their freedom, they have the entire starry sky of possibilities spread out in front of them. This question is asking abut these possibilities.
Emotion is no longer determining the issue. Here cognitions has its say, and cognition has a wealth of ideas, releasing our whole creativity. When we explore our possible choices, we will find many more than we suspected, even in difficult life situations. But knowing the various possible choices is not enough.
4. Which choice is most meaningful?
Our spiritual dimension must raise its voice, the voice of our conscience as the human “sense organ,” which senses meaning. It would be easy for emotion or even cognition to make the wrong decision, a decision against meaningfulness. This would occur if the emotions were chosen according to the principle of blindly“ wanting to act out,” or if the cognitions were chosen according to the principle of the greatest possible advantage for ourselves, the principle of blindly calculating without reference to values. The conscience, however, is self-transcending. It allows us to rise above ourselves and see the world in which we live, and to see the “one right thing to do” in the here and now. Only our conscience can sense which one is the most meaningful choice of all possibilities.
5. I want to actualise this one!
After we know that, there is only one more choice: whether to follow our conscience, with the intention of actualising what we know.
You may be wondering whether the original problem has thus been solved. It is certainly not the same problem it was at the beginning. People who have inwardly followed the 5 stages have left the stop sign behind them. They may still be suffering emotionally somewhat, but they know where they ought to go and their pathway is open.
Elisabeth Lukas – The therapist and the soul 2015 (223-226 pages)
I would like to add another motive for you, readers, to use this process of the 5 steps towards your personal area of freedom.
When we are stuck in some way, we have lost contact with reality.
Reality in its totality is always an expansive dimension.
Observe nature and you will verify it with your own eyes.
It is through the expansiveness of Reality that we should orient ourselves in crisis situations.
The above 5 stages support us, guide us towards Reality.
An expansive, all encompassing reality, where invisible powers facilitate us towards a meaningful Life path.