Existentialism is something that I see peer along this site, as well as Solipsism, and some people seem to be experiencing something called an "Existential Crisis". An Existential Crisis is when a particular individual begins to question his or her life and whether it is real or not, or even if they have any type of purpose or meaning in their life. This can cause a serious amount of dread, panic and even confusion in the individual leaving them in a crisis-like state. Learning how to cope with Existentialism, Solipsism and other Existential thoughts is imperative for someone going through an Existential Crisis because, through time, it can strengthen their sensitivity toward topics where Existentialism is prominent and it can also allow them to live a steady life without the nagging of Existential Dread.
There are many forms of Existentialism, but I am only going to brush the surface because I feel that the surface is the only prominent form of Existentialism on the forums. All the information I will provide will be from my own personal journey through my very own Existential Crisis and also how I personally cope with the issues - such as; whether or not we are living, if life has purpose and other things related.
Understanding What Existentialism Is.
Existentialism is a philosophical theory or approach that emphasizes the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will. An Existential Crisis is taking that philosophical theory and approaching life with individual questions to the very foundation of a person's life: whether his or her life has any meaning, purpose or value.
Now, Existential Crises can be triggered in a number of ways:
- You could have casually been watching television and scrolled over Carl Sagan's Cosmos and proceeded to get your mind blown.
- You could have eaten some of a pot brownie and, even when your friend said to not eat the entire pan of brownie, you ate the entire pan of brownie anyway. Then you're sitting on the edge of the couch, high out of your mind, so panicky that you attempt to walk yourself to a hospital because you're afraid your mind is going to melt from how high you are.
- You could be in a time in your life, to which, you just don't know what you want to do. Being a state of 'Where do I go? What do I do?' tends to allow our minds to seek out the meaning of such things, in turn then, the meaning of life.
- You could have experienced a traumatic of anxiety-filled event (dissociation) and started to try to grasp a meaning of life and how life operates based out of sheer fear.
When I went through my Existential Crisis, I realized my own life is fragile and that it should be treated with care - not only that, but I realized that other's were just as fragile and going through the crisis made me realize what mortality actually was. If you are still going through your crisis, just remember that you will come out stronger as you learn how to cope and pull yourself out the hole that is Existentialism.
Coping with Existentialism and Existential Dread.
Coping can be something difficult for someone going through an Existential Crisis because they can either decline the use of any advice/coping mechanisms, or they can just flat out fail and fall face-first into a pile of "What is life?" - Nevertheless, I've been there. Suffered for a bit, even through my recovery from the ridding of Existential Dread, but I ended up passing through it and now I'm even comfortable having table-top conversations with my local friend about the meaning of life. All it takes is just a bit of time.
So, what can you do to cope? Well, you can do a bunch of things and, for the sake of remaining concise, I'll list them through bullet points below. The main coping mechanism is understanding that Existentialism and the meaning life just simply cannot be explained by any thought process that goes through your head - you cannot validate the dread as something that is okay and that's something that you need to accept if you wish to continue on with your life. Think of it this way, would you rather be completely depressed over a series of serious thoughts leading up to the questioning of your own existence or would you rather spend your time living your life happily and waiting to find out what happens later on. I'd choose the latter - now, onto coping;
- Find something that's constructive. Seriously, hobbies are the best method for coping, even with a number of things besides Existentialism. Try that college course you were thinking about taking, try that cool new thing you saw online or even just frequent the local coffee shop and listen to some shit bands. Finding something that is constructive to you, finding a hobby, is something that is incredibly important with any type of coping - distractions make us forget that we have pain and, sooner or later, that pain will dissipate.
- Consume copious amounts of music. Music releases euphoria and through euphoria, we experience a plethora of different, amazing things - especially the sense that we have no pain. Get out your record player and put Nirvana's In Utero on and prepare yourself for the best experience you've ever felt.
- Anchor yourself. Whether you're a devout follower of a certain spiritual ideal or you're just taking life step-by-step as someone who doesn't really know what happens after death, you should try to anchor yourself to a certain set of ideals. An example of this would be the Bible, usually religious people follow the Scripture and allow themselves to follow in the "footsteps of Jesus" - if you're not towards any religion, like myself, sometimes anchoring can be hard, but that's why you make your own set of ideals. What do you think the best thing about life is? What do you think everyone should do? In my personal experience, I follow the idea of love being the most that you can get out of life and striving for that ultimate sense of love is my goal - love is my anchor. So, try to find yours.
- Be loud. I cannot stress this enough to you - be as loud as you can and allow these emotions to come out of you. You're feeling pissed off? Release it. You feel like you need to just get away and be isolated for awhile? How about taking your truck down a long, country dirt trail blasting death metal because shit is fucked up and bullshit sometimes. Releasing emotions is a great way to get rid of stress - if I had a penny for every-time I felt better after balling my eyes out in the corner of a dark room, I'd have about $145.
- Accept the things you cannot change - you cannot change life and the universe doesn't bend around you like you're the center of attention. Accept the fact that you cannot change how the world is structured and how the universe operates, just focus on giving your own meaning to all of that - through anchoring yourself. Follow your ideals and stick to them - as long as they're not completely crazy (like worshiping ducks or something), and try to give advice to someone else in your situation, even if you're still going through a hard time. What works for you? What helps you calm down and relax? What feels good after you've had a breakdown? Things like this should be discussed with people who share the common vision of Existentialism with you. Respect the existence of other's too - they're in the same boat as you, so treat them like that.
- Finally; don't hurt, cut or maim yourself over situations like this. Those are solutions to a temporary problem and are very harmful to you and your peers that are around you - remain chill and go through the rest of the steps above, you'll be out of it in no time. Just.. try not to think so hard. Just relax and take life as it is - a fun adventure, filled with a shit ton of cool-ass people and awesome activities.
As always, good luck and cheers.
Nov 05 2013 10:52 AM
Good stuff man, glad to see you're doing better.
- Wendy likes this
Nov 05 2013 03:18 PM
I cope w/ existential feelings by doing something I really want to do. All the times I had an 'existential crisis' it was because I was overstressed and wasn't doing anything fun.
Nov 07 2013 06:15 PM
This is great, I have had this for almost a month now and came to the same conclusion, I actually appreciate life alot more now, life is awesome
- Wendy likes this
Nov 07 2013 06:16 PM
Glad to hear you're doing better! Life is awesome, most definitely.This is great, I have had this for almost a month now and came to the same conclusion, I actually appreciate life alot more now, life is awesome
- Spadde likes this
Nov 10 2013 09:22 AM
This was a really great post, opened my eyes up to a few points I wasn't able to see myself, thank you! I constantly have these existential thoughts in my head which coupled with depersonalization makes it hard to ground myself to reality. Self harming was one of the only ways I was able to cope and feel "here", but I'm trying not to resort to that anymore.
Nov 10 2013 12:06 PM
Existentialism has a way of burying itself deep into our minds and, sometimes, it's hard to get out. I had that same problem with self harm too, especially when I was thinking about life - I understand how you feel, but I'm really glad that this could have helped you - even if for a little bit.This was a really great post, opened my eyes up to a few points I wasn't able to see myself, thank you! I constantly have these existential thoughts in my head which coupled with depersonalization makes it hard to ground myself to reality. Self harming was one of the only ways I was able to cope and feel "here", but I'm trying not to resort to that anymore.
Thanks for reading and best of luck - cheers.
Jan 13 2014 11:04 AM
Two bits of this stood out the most for me-
Others are fragile and going through a crisis. At times I'm not very pleasant towards those I love the most. I rationalize by telling myself, "they're not real anyway". But I liked the way you said that.
And obviously Nirvanas 'in utero' is fantastic. Music is the only thing left that keeps me slightly happy and occupied.
Jan 13 2014 04:23 PM
Nirvana's "In Utero" was certainly a great album; I have it on vinyl and CD, haha.Two bits of this stood out the most for me- Others are fragile and going through a crisis. At times I'm not very pleasant towards those I love the most. I rationalize by telling myself, "they're not real anyway". But I liked the way you said that. And obviously Nirvanas 'in utero' is fantastic. Music is the only thing left that keeps me slightly happy and occupied. Thankyou