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Logotherapy – Finding meaning – INVICTUS

This week  I had a Logotherapy session with someone who is struggling to find meaning in her life. She spoke to me about something that had inspired her, the poem INVICTUS. A few years ago I had watched the movie INVICTUS but had never thought about the name of the movie or assigned any significance to it. Now I was challenged to find out more. Why the name INVICTUS and what did it mean to Nelson Mandela, and of course, what are the lessons for us?

From IMDb the synopsis of the movie INVICTUS says, “The film tells the inspiring true story of how Nelson Mandela joined forces with the captain of South Africa’s rugby team to help unite their country. Newly elected President Mandela knows his nation remains racially and economically divided in the wake of apartheid. Believing he can bring his people together through the universal language of sport, Mandela rallies South Africa’s rugby team as they make their historic run to the 1995 Rugby World Cup Championship match.”

At the end of the movie the poem INVICTUS is read which is one of the poems that motivated and inspired Nelson Mandela throughout the long years he was in prison, to make a change for the better to the people and the country that he loved. Here is the poem:



Written in 1875


Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.[/box]

The last two lines are my favorite. These are very in line with Logotherapy teachings and way of life. It basically puts the ball in our court and tells us that there are no more excuses. If we want to see change in our lives, then it is up to us. Nelson Mandela spent many years in prison, and the choices he decided to make in those many long days and hours were ones of direction, growth and change. And, all for the positive. He is a real example to us of someone who overcame difficulty and challenge.


While we are on the topic of movies I saw another movie this week that I love. It is also so rich with meaning and opportunities for growth through struggle. It is called POSEIDON.

This is a movie about a tsunami that hits an ocean liner and how a few random people get together to try and escape. The movie was filled with moments where a group of people had to dig deep and access a human greatness from within. I believe that we all have this within us. The movie started off with an older man who had been disillusioned, hurt and let down by life and people and he decides to jump off the ship and end his life. Moments before he actually jumps he looks up to see this massive tsunami coming his way. In that split second he makes a decision to live. All of a sudden the choice to live or die was taken away from him. When his life was threatened by this tsunami he decided he wanted to live. Life in that moment became precious. At another point in the movie the group has to swim a long distance under water to get to a place above the rising water. One of the younger men tells a lady who is there with her small son that he was a professional swimmer in high school and he will swim with her child on his back. Eventually they make it to the other side and he admits that he was actually not a swimmer. It was the ordeal and the opportunity where he saw that this mom would not save herself or her child by doing it alone so he jumped to the rescue and rose to super human strength. We have these abilities, in times of crisis to rise above. What was amazing to see was how those people who thought of how they could help others were able to and not only that, but their own difficulties became lighter. They found a purpose and a meaning within the struggle and difficulty, and it was not just about how they would personally survive, it was about how they could serve each other as well.

We never know what difficulties are coming our way, but we can overcome them if we dig deep and know that we have hidden potential for greatness within us. Often we hear people say that they didn’t realize how strong they were until they were actually put through the challenge. It is as if challenges have a way of revealing greatness within us, so lets not run away from them, but rather use them  as stepping stones instead of viewing them as stumbling blocks. This week the challenge is to take responsibility for the difficulties in our lives. Responsibility means “our ability to respond.”

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