Existential anxiety presents a struggle with acceptance of life. Find yourself questioning everything? Then you might be suffering from this curious ailment.
I bet you’re wondering what it means to have existential anxiety, maybe you wonder if you have it yourself. Hmmm, it’s possible.
After all, as human beings, we are built to question our own existence. Existential anxiety is just that, the undeniable struggle to understand who you are and what you want out of life. And that’s just a small portion of this struggle.
Existential anxiety is defined in many ways. Its multi-faceted character can be complicated and hard to understand.
It’s not just about worry, but it’s also about examination within this rumination. For instance, existential anxiety might not only entail worrying about the future but concern about the meaning of human existence and the future of mankind. Whew… not everyone with existential anxiety thinks about this subject, but many do.
Okay, I want to examine something a bit about myself. I know I speak of myself often, but it’s the best way I can help you understand the personal aspect of this mindset. I became aware of self at an early age. And this is different from knowing you are alive, mind you.
It’s a depth of awareness pertaining to your consciousness as opposed to those around you. At first, when realizing self, l felt alone, as if I was the only one fully aware – fully awake.
Many days I examined my own thoughts, instead of talking to friends about dolls and games. Not to be conceited, but I wanted to get to know what kind of person I was. My self-awareness made me feel like an adult trapped in a mini body, not a child. It was interesting and almost impossible to put into words.
The trouble with this was…
With that self-awareness, came the awful truth of my mortality. I was only human, and this interesting brain was trapped inside a soft body. That was when I started to fantasize about being a robot. I believe I have included this in other articles of mine, but it’s important in this aspect. I became starkly aware of what I was and my limitations, thus I was striving for a way to fix this human condition.
Over time, of course, I accepted the fact that I was human and learned to not step so deeply into morbid thoughts of death. I had to live, and so I used the self-awareness in other ways.
There are other ways to look at existential anxiety
Of course, not everyone contemplates things in the same fashion with existential anxiety. Sometimes we only contemplate our freedom and responsibilities. We tear apart and break down what we need to do in order to be productive individuals.
Our freedom lies shining on the horizon and instead of being beautifully blinded by the warmth of that light, we stress about all the obstacles stacked against our destination of liberty.
How do we cope?
German philosopher, Martin Heidegger told us in 1962 that there were two ways to cope with this problem. We can either decide to live “on the surface” or we can embrace the depths of our existential mindset.
Living in the moment, and refusing to stay within the confines of the past, likewise, the future can help curb the edges of existential anxiety.
This is how we know
I guess this post was written primarily for those who experience these symptoms or know full well that they are dealing with existential anxiety. But what about the skeptics, those who don’t understand or believe that existential anxiety is a real thing?
Scientists have proven, with over 300 experiments, that existential anxiety is the driving force behind many decisions, including choosing the right mate and career path. The reason for this connection is simple – for some people quelling the nagging persistence of existential thought is achieved by finding the highest level of fulfillment in life.
This was proven by the Terror Management Theory, created by Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski in 1986.
Basically, if we must be mortal and die someday, we might as well have the best possible journey. And this makes perfect sense to me. Recognizing this type of anxiety is the first step, the second step is to reject stigma and ask sufferers of existential anxiety what works best for them.
“How can I help you process life?”