The Therapy of Finding A New Direction

Notes on the Sunday address by Dr Francis Macnab, 22 May 2016.
By John Abbate.

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“Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.”

—Proverbs 4:26

“And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.”

—Hebrews 12:13

“A direction in life is a quality, surely, high on everyone’s list. But it can also be a feature of everyone’s disillusionment. The direction that we once had can be a pathway that peters out. […] The interest and energy that once gave vitality to our direction has been lost or has turned ugly. And you might find that you have changed—not only given up on your direction, lost your passion, but you can give up on yourself.”

—Dr Macnab

In his address, Dr Macnab made five key point on the subject of life direction:

One

Parents commonly worry about the directions in life their children may take. But the search for direction goes on well beyond the childhood years. Where can we find a new pathway when we lose direction? “The secret of success is singleness of purpose,” said Dr Macnab. “If you’re wanting your feet to be placed on a new pathway of life, choose that purpose. […] The Bible is full of these high-sounding principles, but, often, it doesn’t tell us how.”

Two

Dr Macnab states his second point as, “the need to bring the various strands of life’s purposes and directions into a rational, productive focus.” Filter out the distractions and extraneous material, and filter in positive, constructive emotions.

Three

Some of life’s directions carry strong negative emotions: boredom, anger, guilt, shame, etc. A person might have the best job in the world and still hate going to work each day. It makes an enormous difference when your direction is loaded with positive energy.

Four

When we lose our passion and direction we become disoriented. It is then that we realise the importance of having direction in life. It is easy for a young person to “rumble along”, dealing with things as they happen, hoping it will all turn out eventually. Older people often do the same thing: their lives become routine, procedural; seemingly full, yet directionless. “Life is lifted when singleness of purpose carries an enjoyable passion.”

Dr Macnab makes an important distinction between outer purpose and passion, and inner purpose and passion. If you can develop your inner sense of passion and direction, you will become more resilient in the face of life changes and loss of external direction.

Dr Macnab names several internal resources that need constant nurturing:

  1. Inwardness of the human spirit; spirit strength
  2. Interpersonal support
  3. Inspirational flow
  4. Investment in good emotions and memories
  5. Internalisation of the best sense of who you are, and who you can be

Five

Dr Macnab’s fifth and final point concerns the therapy of a passionate life direction and “setting your feet on a new path.” Therapy means to re-find focus. It consists of restoring the lost direction and energy, recognising that restoration as important to flourishing and fulfilment. Therapy consists of harmonising and integrating the internal and external influences that shape our direction and passion. Finally, therapy consists of identifying the relevant “feeders” that give flourish to our direction.

Watch Dr Macnab’s address for more:

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