Nurturing The Will To Live

There are as many ways to live by one’s own choosing as there are to die by one’s own hands. The ICD-10(International Classification of Diseases, 10th edition) is more concerned with statistics on the means people employ to kill themselves such as firearms or overdose than why they choose to die by their own hands. Perhaps suicidologists and researchers should be more concerned with what motivates people to live rather than kill themselves. Most people would agree that a greater than average amount of will and determination is needed to kill oneself deliberately. Yet , on the flip side, most people are too willing to let life casually happen to them, not realising that choosing to live also requires will and determination, that is to truly live and not just exist.

There’s no doubt life can be difficult if not traumatic at times. Friends can betray you, love disappoint, your lack of confidence may leave you feeling powerless to change your situation such as bullying at school, rejection, overwhelming debt, an addiction you can’t seem to break. There will always be unpleasant circumstances human beings have to deal with, but why is it that one person will endure and overcome whilst another faced with similar circumstances, will lose heart and long for death. It is not the availability of means which determines whether people kill themselves, but rather the strength of will to self-destruct. One way of asking whether something is good or acceptable, is to ask yourself this question – what would happen if everyone behaved this way? If everyone decided to self-destruct when the going got tough, the following would occur:

  • Societies would stop developing. There would be no point in starting any big undertakings to improve society as the workforce would likely start dropping off
  • People would be grief-stricken because loved ones would be reeling from the non-stop loss of those they loved who did not see fit to share their inner pain and therefore allow them a chance to intervene.
  • There would be a perpetual cloud of gloom and doom hovering over societies.
  • The sale of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication would go through the roof, as people would take them as preventative measures, and insist that their loved ones do the same.
  • We would become afraid of our own emotions, and so in an effort to avoid difficult emotions, we would avoid situations which might engender them. People would therefore avoid risk and challenge, and would become emotional zombies.

Someone once wrote that you will not find your life worth living, but must make it so, and that requires all the ardour of which you are capable. Yes, that’s what’s needed in life – more not less enthusiasm. So, how can we nurture the will to live? Here are some tools:

Tool 1 -We can literally learn to fall in love with life itself. This means we ask little of life and ironically gain much in return. We do not set up unhelpful pre-conditions for our happiness – “I will be happy when…

  • I graduate
  • Get married
  • Get my dream job
  • Earn £…

Rather, we take perverse delight in the little things:

  • The wind in our hair
  • The taste of our favourite meal
  • When our head hits the pillow at night
  • A card from a friend

Tool 2 -Give examples from history of people who used impediments to their gain? Give examples from history of people who used impediments to their gain?

No doubt thoughts are whizzing round your head at uncontrollable speed with hypnotic repetition. You would do well to get them off your mind and on to paper, or share them with a responsible, impartial listener. Tell them how you want your life script to end i.e. what you want to achieve out of life

Tool 3 – Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes

The practise of empathy or focusing all your energy on another human being besides yourself. Find an available person willing to talk with a pleasant voice. Engage him/her in conversation simply by asking them about how life is going for them. Focus on actively listening and ask periodic questions to clarify what they are saying.

Tool 4 – Positive self-talk

You are the one whom you spend all your time with. Friends and family only visit. They can’t get inside your head unless you let them in. but you live there. Is it a nice place to be? Record your voice on to a Dictaphone using the following script. Your mind may struggle to believe what you’re reading but pretend for a moment you are a highly paid actor. Assume a cheerful tone. Play the tape back to yourself at least three times a day:

  • “I am valuable to the world”
  • “I am loved”
  • “I am capable”
  • “I have a lot to offer”

Tool 5 -Serenity prayer

“God give me the serenity to accept the things I can’t change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

As long as you’re alive change is inevitable. Positive change requires effort, but effort need not be overwhelming. You can pace yourself – step by step, brick by brick. No doubt you feel life has been pushing and dragging you around, taking you to places, people and circumstances you don’t like. Write down all the things in your life you could change with effort.

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. We did some trouble shooting today. You may need a helping hand. Help is out there – you just have to know where to look. Why rush into eternity. Why not give yourself a little more time to find some answers.

carla cornelius

By carla cornelius

She chose the subject of her doctoral dissertation as suicide prevention from a biblical perspective. She believes that just as suicide is multifactorial, it may be tackled and treated from different perspectives and using different perspectives. However, those who know their human value to God and others, are less likely to make this fatal decision. We all need to be reminded of how much we matter!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *