Having an Existential Crisis?

by | 24th July 2017

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There are 100’s of types of therapy but no cure for ‘existence’ – and no cure for the ailments of existence.

If you find yourself thinking ‘what is my life all about?’ or ‘life has no meaning’ – feeling generally fed up with the difficulties of existing and living, chances are you are having an existential crisis.

A Thai phrase captures it well: ‘Buer Chi Vit’ = ‘Bored with Life’, bored with the constraints of existence.

Some of us are prone to pessimism, see the darker side of living. When having an existential experience, it feels as if we are truely alone in the world, and we are.

In these moments of existential angst, our existence seems pointless. No one can consloe us and make it better, because nobody can truely liberate us from our own existence! ‘I exist, therefore I am’. It is my life, my existence, mine alone.


I once supervised an exhibition at the Tate Gallery (now Tate Britain), it was called ‘Paris Post War’. I never forgot the slogan on the exhibition t-shirt:


This summarises the escape route from existential pain! Life is absurd at times, doesn’t make sense and contains anguish, but in truely acknowledging this absurdity and anguish, we can then be free. Once we acknowledge this, rather than  fight it, deny it, make it an issue, we can then accept that absurdity and anguish are part of life and we are freed.

In doing this we are managing the tension bewtween how to live a meaningful life, in a meaningless world.

The truth is, life is very ordinary and we are very ordinary. It doesn’t mean we cannot have joyful moments. But we are nothing speacia in the grand scheme of things, merely playing our own small part in something vastly bigger than ourselves. Accepting this, takes away the pressure of thinking that ‘we have to be/feel a certain way in order to be ok’, instead of simply being authentically ourselves.

Authenticity is key. Humans deceive themselves about their motives and intentions all the time. We do this because to truely feel every pin of life i every moment is overwhelming. But there needs to be balance. To deny the darker aspects of ourselves and life is being inauthentic.


Some Antidotes

1. Observe that which exists:


2. Find meaning:

3. Put flesh on (add skin):

Rise above the ordinary contradictions & difficulties of living by facing & accepting them, rather trying to eliminate them or feel they are wrong.

Find a way to live life in a way that is personally meaningful to you. You have freedom & choice in everything, even when you don’t think you do!

Develop the ability to meet the inevitable challenges life presents. A way to support this is to practice being authentically you. Have the courage to be you.

Existential crisis is a normal part of life. Deep thinkers observe this often. It enables us to find ways to live truthfully, master the constraints of our existence. This ability is what makes us unique as human beings, other species (and levels of existence) cannot do this. To be aware allows us choice. Buddhists are existential, artists are existential, gothics (emo’s) are existential! – because they are concerned with meaning and authenticity.

‘We can choose to be the active creator of our life, or the passive recipient of a life’ unknown

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