What Is An Existential Crisis And How Can It Be Resolved?
By: Sarah Fader
Updated November 20, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Whitney White, MS. CMHC, NCC., LPC
When someone is experiencing an existential crisis, they have come to the point where they are questioning their purpose in life and the “real meaning” of life. We all want to feel like our life has meaning and when we start to ask the big questions about our purpose in life - an existential depression is often the result.
Well-known comedians and amateur laugh-masters alike often poke fun at existential crises. There's nothing wrong with that at all. Humor can be one way to deal with existential despair when nothing else works. Existential fear is such a common experience, laughing about it with others can bring us together in a positive way.
Laughter offers relief, but it's usually only temporary comfort. Eventually, you may want to find a more helpful answer to your existential question. So, how do you deal with your dilemma in a more effective and meaningful way? The first step is to understand what “existential crisis” means.
Existential Crisis: What's Happening And Why
Psychologists define an existential crisis as a turning point at which we begin to more deeply question our meaning and purpose in life. It's a moment when you feel the need to find meaning or purpose in your life and has often been referred to as the “dark night of the soul.”
An existential crisis can happen when you're under any type of crisis, stress, or facing a difficult decision. It can also happen at a quiet time when life seems mundane or pointless, or you're disconnected from others around you while you struggle with understanding your own purpose in life.
There are plenty of different reasons why someone might have an existential crisis and begin experiencing existential depression. You might be at a point in your life where something needs to shift and change. Our modern world changes constantly, and so do you. Our fast-paced modern society may also make us feel pressured to keep constantly moving and changing, whether this is the right choice or us or not. You may reexamine the existential givens at any time as your way of being in a world that is constantly changing. Below we'll explore different kinds of existential depression.
An Existential Crisis Can Make You Feel Alone, But You're Not
Existential crises are common, but that doesn't make them less painful when you begin struggling with one. This is especially true if your crisis is related to a major loss in life or losing a loved one. You might not know what to do with these feelings because there doesn't seem to be a solution on the horizon.
An existential crisis is a moment or period of time in which you feel uncomfortable, unsure, and unable to figure out what you're “supposed” to achieve on this earth. You may be having obsessive and repetitive thoughts that tell you you're living a meaningless life. An existential crisis is difficult to talk about as feelings of hopelessness can lead you to believe that no one understands what you're going through, but if you can manage to open up about it, it's helpful to confide in a loved one and explore your thoughts and feelings.
Another thing that you can do to help improve your outlook in life is to start journaling about your existential crisis. You may not initially understand your feelings of anxiety, depression, and sense of being overwhelmed, but if you write them down, it'll help you to clarify what you're going through and why. Therapy, whether it's online or in your local area, can also help you understand why you're feeling that your life is pointless and help you to rediscover your purpose in life by exploring these feelings.
Your therapist is there to help you work through transitions and rocky times in your life and help you understand that your life has meaning and purpose. You won't be going through an existential crisis forever, and you will get to the other side even if it's hard to see it at the moment, regardless of the type of crisis you're currently experiencing.
So, what kinds of existential crises are there? Different psychology writers who focus on promoting personal growth have identified four or five aspects of life based on existential philosophy. Each instance of angst and existential despair can be a source of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues like obsessive-compulsive disorder.
By resolving these dilemmas and answering the hard questions related to human existence, you can move past your existential crisis.
- Freedom And Responsibility
Many people think that the ultimate meaning of life is complete freedom. Freedom sounds wonderful at face-value. After more consideration, however, whether it’s inherited or borrowed, you may realize that freedom comes with responsibility.
When you mentally accept your freedom to make choices, in relation to the boundaries of ethics and traditional morality you can no longer blame someone else for what you do and the outcomes of those actions. You've become philosophically aware that there is actually a widespread existential crisis as collective humanity grapples with the common challenges of daily life and existence.
Even if you're imprisoned either literally or physically, you can choose psychological freedom by staying true to your faith in religion or other independent philosophy. Viktor Frankl, a 20th-century neurologist, psychiatrist, and existential theorist, wrote a book called "Man's Search for Meaning." The book discussed how holocaust survivors chose their ways of being in the world and their perspective on it even as they faced the hardships of the concentration camps in WWII. When they made those choices, they considered that angst was not changing the outcome of their inevitable situation.
As a result, they accepted the responsibility for their responses to the situation and created a more widespread positive emotional support system that helped them focus on the more positive aspects of life -- even in the midst of an 'existential crisis.'
You can choose not to accept your freedom and believe that life is meaningless. However, when you do, you are at the mercy of circumstances and one or more people who will then make those decisions for you. Regardless of the route you take, it's likely that at some point an existential crisis may result. The way you exist and behave in the world, and your outlook on these things, depends partly on this existential choice between freedom/responsibility and limitation/dependency.
- Death And Limitation
You can't choose whether to die or not. You can't choose to be limitless; no one is. What you can do is choose whether to acknowledge death and limitation psychologically instead of developing a crisis of meaning.
It would be too hard to be constantly plagued by racing thoughts that make you painfully aware that your life's journey will end in death. At the same time, the acknowledgment of death can help you live more fully now and develop coping skills related to the inevitable death of a loved one or yourself.
- Isolation And Connectedness
Another existential dilemma is between isolation and connectedness, which exists on a continuum rather than as an on-off state. While complete isolation can seem comforting and easier to manage, it fails to meet crucial social needs; this is partially why our current age is seeing high levels of constant engagement on social media, as people seek out in-person socialization less and instead rely on “easier” forms, such as social media.
Complete connectedness, on the other hand, may be socially fulfilling but allow you little independence and an existential crisis can happen as you begin to search for your own meaning in life. Learning to balance social health with independence and self-awareness is key.
The collective nature provided by social media engagements is a testament to this concept. Too much social interaction has been tied to depression as the overwhelming nature of the constant online barrage of thoughts, ideas, and people has been found to cause racing thoughts as people try to develop new ways to navigate so many ongoing social interactions.
- Meaning And Meaninglessness
Humans seek meaning for and in their lives. When we can't find it, we create it. When we can find neither meaning in our lives or the mental energy needed to create it --existential dread and existential anxiety fill their minds.
Psychological disorders, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, are commonly developed during these periods of seeking meaning. Many of us need meaning the most during times of adversity. It is in those moments that you choose between coping/surviving and growing as a person that can translate to an existential crisis is not navigated in a thoughtful and healthy way. If we’re struggling to find that meaning, we may engage in obsessive-compulsive acts to help us subconsciously feel more in control. These exist on a spectrum, and does not necessarily mean that we have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Emotions, Experience, And Embodiment
Existential psychology recognizes the importance of emotions. The work of existential theorist Rollo May has been considered the father of American existential psychology. May suggested that anxiety should be embraced positively. This goes along with Nietzsche's work, which encouraged the acceptance of emotional experiences.
Notice How You Are In The World
Your being-in-the-world is unique to you. Understanding who you are and what attitudes, beliefs, choices, and assumptions you hold can help you pinpoint your exact way of being in the past and at the given moment, and thus help you pave a path for the future or at least feel more secure in your direction.
Attitudes: Your attitudes are your evaluations about the things, people, events, and ideas in your world. You can have a positive or negative attitude about each of these things. Your attitude can be something you're aware of, or it can be an implicit attitude that resides in your unconscious. We have a great deal of control over our attitudes – often more than we think!
Beliefs: Your beliefs include your religious beliefs, core values, ethics, and so on. You may practice a religion but not subscribe to its entire belief system. You may practice no religion but have many beliefs about spiritual things. You can have beliefs about seemingly insignificant things and beliefs about the all-encompassing meaning of the universe. All of these help guide our lives and how we perceive it.
Choices: A choice is an act of will that comes at the conclusion of a decision-making process. The result of choice might be that you act differently or that you think differently than before you made that choice. When you're dealing with an existential crisis, life meaning, death, freedom, isolation, and emotion all can play a part in the decision-making process.
Assumptions: What are your assumptions? What do you assume about the things, people, events, and thoughts in your world? You may be very well aware of assumptions you hold, or you may not even realize they're a part of the equation. When you dig deep to find the hidden assumptions driving your decisions, you can make a more informed and self-aware choice.
Identify Your Existential Dilemma
When you're in the midst of an existential dilemma, you begin to contemplate issues surrounding existence, or the understanding of what it means to be alive. You may feel anxiety, fear, or even a sense of dread. You may have a feeling that everything is hopeless or pointless. An existential crisis can also alternate between these traditional, negative feelings and feelings of excitement – something that can be tiring and potentially confusing. A great first step is to push past this dilemma and find the source of the existential crisis.
Recognize, Embrace, And Express Your Existential Fear: For many, life seems more certain when emotions are hidden or pushed aside. Existential theory suggests that the healthiest way to deal with emotions is to experience and embrace them. Allow yourself to feel the existential dread and anxiety. Express it in words, art, music, and actions. Doing so will allow you to work through it healthily and more quickly than if you tried to repress it.
Actively Seek Answers: Many people can resolve their existential crises after an active search for answers. You can find possible answers in several ways:
- Self-Questioning: When you find the source of your existential anxiety, self-questioning can help you assess your being-in-the-world. With the answers you find, you'll know better how you experience life and what matters most to you. Once you have that answer, you can start to resolve the existential issues before you. These issues will vary from person to person; however, knowing what they are is powerful, and having a counselor to support your work through them can help. Let's say, for example, that you're struggling with how to move forward with your career. You feel stuck, and don't know what your next move is. A counselor can help you talk out what you don't like about your job, and help you figure out what you want to do next.
- Research: It's an excellent time to conduct research on your problems. Research allows you to get the opinions of others as well as facts about the issues you're facing. You can read, watch videos, go to lectures or church services, take classes, explore the world, or find a mentor. By increasing your knowledge, you can find more options for resolving your existential crisis.
- Considering Options: Once you have questioned yourself and researched your issues, you'll have a variety of options to choose from, and can find the one best for you. Considering the possibilities is a separate task. You'll need to weigh your hopes against your beliefs about the nature of reality to find a resolution that can help you and that makes sense to you. The solution may not be obvious, but knowing that there are options is reassuring.
You're not stuck. Part of being in an existential crisis is feeling stuck. Remember that it's your life, and you have the freedom to make choices about the things you can control. For example, let's say you're unhappy about where you live. You can consider other locations you'd like to move, and make a choice based on a list of pros and cons.
- Accept That You Can't Know Everything: Even if you spend years researching your existential issues and contemplating your way of being in the world, you can never know everything there is to know. Just accepting this limitation can significantly improve your ability to resolve your existential crisis. Learn to be ok with sometimes being and feeling humble (not in a self-deprecating way, of course) – after all, we’re only human, and we can’t know or do everything!
Build And Maintain Connections with Others: Building and maintaining connections can be a difficult challenge, especially in times of tragedy and trauma. Those individual connections can help you resolve your crisis as you move through and beyond the adverse situation. Find people to reach out to so you can feel a sense of support. It can be people you know from work or friends you've had for a long time. If you have online friends, reach out to them. During a time of stress like having an existential crisis, you need friends and loved ones supporting you.
Speaking of building connections online, a blogger named Existential Crisis has built a community for himself. He writes about his experiences with mental illness, partly to reduce the stigma and to increase understanding of mental health issues while empowering others to do the same.
Find Your Existential Meaning: In writing and publishing his blog, Existential Crisis has given himself a greater opportunity to find meaning. As you consider your existential crisis, think of ways you can create your meaning in life.
Look for opportunities to build meaning and connections. Find an ideology about death that makes sense to you, even if it's your invention. Allow yourself to feel your emotions more fully and find avenues for expressing them. Embrace as much freedom as you like and accept the responsibility that goes with it. When you can do this, your existential crisis may be resolved, at least for now.
What To Do When Existential Questions Become Existential Despair
You may have many feelings about your existential crisis. It may make your life seem even more challenging than it was before you realized something deeper was bothering you. You might be able to resolve your existential dilemma on your own. Many people have done just that. These individuals have worked hard thinking about what they're unhappy with in their lives, keeping a journal of their feelings, practicing mindfulness and accepting how they feel.
They're talking to their friends, brainstorming ways to change the things in their lives that aren't working, such as leaving a toxic relationship or changing careers. Talking out your problems with a friend can shed light on them. There are times when you need more support working through an existential crisis. However, there may be times when you want or need to seek professional help.
BetterHelp Wants You To Enjoy A Fulfilling Life
The online counselors at BetterHelp understand that life transitions are inevitable. We all go through periods where we're not sure what is supposed to happen next. It's not just the experience of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood; existential crises are about questioning why you're on this earth and what you're meant to do with your life. What is your purpose? A licensed therapist can help you address each of these questions in a logical way that makes sense to you, and also gives you purpose and meaning in life.
Sometimes we experience existential crises due to more common mental health issues like depression. Research shows that online therapy can play a significant role in treating depression, and in the medium and long-term is actually more effective in continual reduction of symptoms than in-person therapy. In fact, this research found that 57% of online therapy clients no longer felt or displayed symptoms of depression even three months post-treatment, as opposed to just 42% of in-person therapy clients.
Our licensed therapists are available to you anytime, anywhere, even from the comfort of your own home. Sessions are fully personalized, and can be conducted via video chat, phone call, instant messaging/texting, live voice recording, or any combination thereof. The online nature of BetterHelp also enables it to be cheaper than traditional face-to-face therapy options. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing similar issues.
"I have been in therapy numerous times throughout my life. I feel that working with Dan has been much more productive than even face to face therapy with PHDs or MDs. I can disclose very personal information and always feel safe and unjudged. When I get off track he gently and kindly gets me back on track. He has gotten me through what is probably the biggest crisis in my life thus far. I would recommend Dan to anyone seeking help."
"Hello! I strongly recommend Steven! I’ve had two sessions with him and they’ve already made a world of difference. He is helping me dig deep, more than any therapist I’ve ever had. On identifying the where, what, who and why of how I exist right now. Love him!”
How To Recognize When You Need Immediate Help
An existential crisis might cause you anxiety, but if you can withstand the emotional pain that comes with it, you can take a longer view. Here are some reasons you might need to get help right away:
- You have suicidal thoughts, plans, or behaviors.
- You seriously consider finding meaning by hurting someone else and find yourself making plans to do so.
- In either case, it's crucial that you go to a local mental health clinic or hospital immediately.
*Note* If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out for help immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255, and is available 24/7.
Talking To An Existential Therapist Can Help
Existential therapy can help you deal with your crisis. In this type of therapy, the counselor allows you to direct your therapy, talking about what matters to you and working out the problem for yourself.
You might feel that in your first session, you express your thoughts randomly, awkwardly, and disjointedly. That's alright. The therapist may rephrase what you say to make sure they understand, or ask more direct questions. As they do, you may develop a deeper understanding of your issues.
If you're looking to work through existential matters, you'll benefit from a kind of therapy that focuses on life's deeper meaning for you. Existential therapy is an excellent form of treatment for people like you who are experiencing stagnation in life. You'll work through the roadblocks you're facing and develop a plan to make your life more fulfilling.
No matter what kind of issues you want to deal with, there's a licensed counselor who can help you at BetterHelp.com. They can help you wherever and whenever works for you, and the cost is about the same as an insurance copay. Just that easy, you can get to the work of identifying, understanding, and resolving your existential crisis.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Triggers An Existential Crisis?
An existential crisis is when you start to question your existence, and there can be many ways to trigger it. Here are some triggers.
- Age can trigger it. When you are a teen or emerging adult, you may start to question your existence and whether or not you can make an impact on the world. This can be an identity crisis of some sort. When you get older, your midlife crisis may come in the form of existential depression over your mortality. Your midlife crisis can make you question how much you’ve gotten done at this stage of your life.
- A major loss can lead to an existential crisis. You may start to question your own existence or what that person’s existence was for.
- A change in beliefs can cause this type of crisis. For example, if you no longer believe in Christianity, you may wonder what the point of life is.
- Sometimes, an existential crisis occurs for seemingly no reason at all. You may feel angst and existential despair even if your life is going well. Human existence is weird like that, and this is perfectly natural.
Some people may resolve the crisis by tackling something that relates to the crisis. With that said, questioning one’s beliefs is something that many people do, and not at one particular time or the other.
What Is An Example Of Existential Crisis?
You may hear the term “existential crisis” being thrown around a lot, but you may not know what it means. What are existential crises? How do existential crises happen? Perhaps the best way is to give you an example.
An existential crisis can happen when something makes you question your existence. One example is if you lose your best friend in a sudden car crash. You may start to question if your friendship was for nothing, what the point of life is if it can just be taken away from you, or what your life means without that significant person in it. That death may start to make you question your own existence, and you may have existential despair over your own death.
What Does Existential Really Mean?
This term refers to life and existence, mainly the question of one’s existence. It’s the philosophy centered on the existential crisis, the questioning of one’s life and one’s purpose in the world. An existential crisis can happen to anyone, even someone who believes that life does have a purpose.
What Are Existential Problems?
This is when you have a difficult time finding meaning and value in your life. It tends to involve a crisis of meaning or a crisis of existence in which you start to wonder where your life is going and if there’s any point to it all. This can lead to a type of crisis known as an existential crisis.
How Do You Say Existential Crisis?
The pronunciation is ex-uh-stent-shul cry-sis.
What Is An Example Of Existentialism?
Existential actions tend to be associated with an existential crisis. However, there can be many actions that could be an example of existentialism.
For example, leaving your comfy, but perhaps unfulfilling job to have a rocky career as an artist, a job that has a lot more meaning to you. Another reason why you may want to be an artist is due to the crisis of the individual. You want to believe that after you're gone, you will have something that will be remembered no matter what, such as a piece of art that you created.
What Defines An Existential Crisis?
The existential crisis definition is quite simple. It’s when you start to question your life and have existential depression or existential crisis anxiety because of it. We all question our existence at times, but a true crisis makes you wonder what your purpose is, and an existential crisis may result in a huge change for your life.
Who Coined The Term Existential Crisis?
The exact person who first said ‘existential crisis’ is unknown, but we do know who coined the idea of existentialism. It was Gabriel Marcel, a French Catholic philosopher. It happened more recently than you would think, too, with it being coined in the mid-1940s.
Who Is The Father Of Existentialism?
There are a few people who would take that title. While Gabriel Marcel coined the term “existentialism,” many philosophers came beforehand. One was Søren Kierkegaard, who questioned Christianity. Another was Friedrich Nietzsche, a name you may have heard before. He was one of the biggest questioners of human existence of our time.
What Is The Opposite Of Existentialism?
The opposite of existentialism is really anything that gives life a purpose. Some people’s faiths could be considered the opposite of existentialism, or any other set of beliefs that help your life have a purpose.
Essentialism, the idea that everything has a set of attributes, could be considered the opposite.
What Is A Synonym For Existential?
One synonym you may use is “experiential” or “experience,” as existential relates to the existence or experience of one’s being. A synonymous term would be “the meaning of life.”
What Is Existentialism In Simple Words?
It’s a philosophy that explores your existence. In other words, you may ask a question or two like “Where did we come from?” or “Why are we here?” These questions can make you start to ask other questions, and so on.
What Are Existential Questions?
These are questions involving existence and everything that surrounds it. There are many types of existential questions, with the most common being, “Why are we here? Where did we come from? Where are we going?”
Existential questions can also come in the form of questioning one’s impact. You may ask yourself “Will I be remembered? Will I be loved?”
We all have these questions from time to time, but an existential crisis usually comes when you cannot stop asking those questions.
How Do You Use Existential Crisis In A Sentence?
“After being fired from her job of 20 years, Mary experienced an existential crisis about her purpose in life.”
How Do You Deal With Existential Angst?
When you have existential depression or anxiety, it can be challenging. Questioning what matters in the world can be a good thing, but not at the expense of your sanity. Here are several ways to survive existential angst:
First, accept that life is uncertain and some things are out of your control. Accepting this uncertainty can be difficult, but this is the first step.
Talk about it with a therapist. There is absolutely no shame in talking with someone about your crisis, especially if you are having one due to a major life change.
Try meditation and mindfulness. Clear out your mind and try to live in the present.
Try finding a set of beliefs and values to live by. It does not have to be a religion, but having a philosophy to follow can help.
Find the things in life that can give you joy. In an uncertain life, do what makes you happy. One thing anyone can agree with is that life is too short for you to spend it doing something you don’t like.
It can be tough to deal with an existential crisis. Sometimes, it does go away, but oftentimes, it can stay for a while.
How Do You Use Existential In A Sentence?
“After a particularly eye-opening day, Tom started to feel existential, questioning why he was here and where he would go.”
What Are Existential Fears?
These are your fears of your existence. They are also known as existential anxiety. They can happen for many reasons. One of the most common is the fear of death. Another example is fearing that your life will be meaningless and for nothing. Existential fears can come at any time, especially in a life-changing event such as the death in the family. You may start to have existential anxiety over your own existence when you question what you believe. Everyone has them, and they are worth talking about.
What Are The Theories Of Existentialism?
Existentialism postulates that the world and existence deserve to be questioned. In existentialist philosophy, the term “crisis” tends to pop up, as one faces existentialism when they begin questioning who they are and where they are going, and this can feel like a crisis.
What Are Six Common Themes Found In Existentialism?
In widespread existential crisis cases, there are several reoccurring themes. Here are six of them:
- The Individual
This is when a person asks themselves what being a human means. These questions about one’s self can lead to several different branching paths. You may start to wonder about the chaos of the world, and if there is any meaning or rightness in it.
As such, we try to find meaning in life and our role in it, a question that you cannot answer definitively. While many people have beliefs and faiths that may tell them the meaning of life, these are not definitive or absolute.
Life is all about choice. We make decisions, either consciously or unconsciously, that can determine our lives. When you start to think about existentialism, the concept of choice plays a part. We make decisions usually based in some sort of law or other system, but a part of existence is making choices that sometimes are difficult to justify. This may also make one think about the choices being made and how much control you really have. The idea of freedom may play a role here.
This also makes one question the authenticity of what is going on in the world. How many of our choices are authentic? How many people are authentic? How much choice do we really have in our lives? These are all explored in existentialism.
We all have anxieties over life. One of the biggest fears in existentialism is the idea of death. One day, we will no longer exist, and that concept is hard to fathom for many people.
Anxieties are concerned with more than death, of course. Oftentimes, we may have anxieties over situations that make us realize that we are human, like having an eye-opening experience via travelling to a new country. This can be positive or negative. Everyone has anxieties.
- Criticizing Society
When you realize that you live in a society that has patterns, beliefs, and laws that may not be entirely rational or just, you start to criticize and deconstruct the world around you. Are these practices important, or are they something you should ignore? It can sometimes be hard to figure out what the truth is, or what is “right.”
- Personal Relationships
Another aspect of existentialism is the relationships we have, be it friends, family, or even acquaintances. We need to have meaning in our relationships, yet you may question what it’s for. You may also wonder how many of the personal relationships you have are authentic, or which ones are simply performative. This isn’t a case of finding out who your true friends are, but instead wondering if being true is even possible. This again relates back to the concepts of choice and freedom.
Religion is what gives people purpose. It tells where people came from and where they are going. Existentialism tends to question religion. One question you may end up pondering is the freeness of the world. Is it all determined by God, or a god? If so, then humans have no power. However, if you believe that humans can do what they like, then you may start to question whether or not God is really all-powerful, or if a god exists at all.
You may believe that existentialism means you are an atheist, but this is not the case. Some people may have a more deistic approach, believing that there is a creator or higher power, but the creator is not interested in humans. Many existentialists who are believers are still critical of religion and what it represents. They may be critical of the organized, human aspect of it, but may still believe in its core ideas and theories.
What Is Modern Existentialism?
The existentialist philosophy is quite modern. Even though humans have been questioning their existence since we became self-aware many, many thousands of years ago, the term was coined in the 1940s.
However, if you want to define existential crisis as a modern example, one good example is when you see everything bad going on in the world thanks to the Internet, and you may start to ponder whether or not life has a purpose.
What Are The 5 Tenets Of Existentialism?
There are actually six, and they are:
Existence. This is the realization that you are your own existence and nothing else.
Anxiety. Anxiety can happen to anyone, and in the context of existentialism, it means that you are afraid that human existence means nothing. Even in religion, human life can be viewed as something that’s meant for suffering for a greater purpose, or none at all.
Absurdity. When you think about it, human life can be quite absurd. When you stay absorbed and engaged with life, everything appears relevant, coordinated and sensible. However, once the engagement is gone, everything can feel absurd and lose meaning.
Nothingness. This is the sensation that life is nothing when you strip away the symbolism surrounding it.
Death. The concept of death correlates to nothingness. You were born out of nothing and your choices make you into something. The idea of what lies beyond is an incomprehensible void - a simple explanation for the nothingness that comes with death, when you are no longer able to be anything.
Alienation. You decide to strip yourself away from society and instead find your own purpose.
Is It Normal To Have An Existential Crisis?
At different times we all go through moments in which we feel positive about ourselves and moments when we are overwhelmed with uncertainty and fear. While it is normal to experience the ups and downs of life, when you find it difficult to adapt to these shifts to the point where you obsess over the meaning and purpose of life, or conclude that you are living a meaningless life, then it becomes an existential crisis, especially when this triggers feelings of anxiety and depression that hinder your general well-being. A brief existential crisis does not often lead to existential depression, and could be part of a normal process towards self-discovery and intellectual enlightenment.
What Is The Alternative Of An Existential Crisis?
The Greek philosopher, Socrates, once observed that the purpose of life is a life of purpose. An existential crisis questions your perceived sense of purpose and the structures and principles on which you have based your life on, but this in itself may come with the possibility of you finding a new purpose and gaining a broader understanding of the meaning of life. Since an existential crisis primarily involves the loss of meaning and purpose, its alternative is a life where meaning and purpose aren't just fundamental to how an individual interacts with the world, but to providing a clear sense of direction and fulfillment.
Does Everyone Go Through An Existential Crisis?
Everyone may experience a momentary sense of anxiety or uncertainty, but it's not in every situation that this spirals into an existential crisis or results in an existential depression. While an existential crisis is not considered a mental health disorder in itself, people who live with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and depression may be more prone to experiencing an existential crisis. However, though an existential crisis may be a result of an underlying mental health condition, it is possible to experience an existential crisis without having a prior mental health concern.
How Do You Stop An Existential Crisis?
If you have experienced a major loss or survived an almost-fatal accident that led to serious injury, it is natural for you to experience a period of introspection in which you come to terms with what happened and how it has impacted your life. However, instead of giving in to feelings of despair and hopelessness that make you question the meaning of life, you can challenge yourself to live a more authentic life instead and grow from the experience.
Take note of your most endearing qualities and decide on how best you can apply these positive attributes towards a more fulfilling life. You don't just want to know why your life matters, or if there is a point to your existence, you want to experience the importance of your purpose through the impact it has on others. Meditate on positive thoughts and allow the insights gained from your moments of reflection to guide you towards a more fulfilling life.
What Does Having An Existential Crisis Mean?
An existential crisis usually occurs in the wake of a significant event that alters an individual's sense of purpose and direction. This could mean that the individual no longer feels that their life has meaning, or wonders what that meaning is. While many people may celebrate and feel enthusiastic after a major achievement, an existential crisis overrides these positive feelings, and can result in them reflecting on the possible or perceived futility of their achievement instead.
When you are unable to find motivation or lose interest in everything, this could be a sign that you may be grappling with an existential crisis, which often means you will no longer relate to the life you live, the activities you enjoy, and the people you care about in the way you used to. An unresolved case of existential crises can also result in existential depression, which is characterized by chronic feelings of despair and anxiety.
What Determines An Existential Crisis?
An existential crisis can be determined by how an individual responds to life changing situations and the decisions they make as a result of their experiences. In most instances, individuals who are dealing with an existential crisis become disorientated with life and their relationships, and may wonder whether they have a purpose in life and what that may be.
The most notable aspect of an existential crisis usually involves a general lack of fulfillment, feelings of despair and uncertainty, as well as feelings of anxiety influenced by fear and responsibility, along with a loss of direction and the persistent need for clarity.
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