We all go through times when we find neither meaning to our existence nor the meaning of life. But there are ways out of this situation.
What am I doing in this world? What is my goal in life? What happens if I don’t accomplish anything that I set out to do? What is the meaning of life?
Absolutely all of us have asked ourselves these questions throughout our lives . Many times, these questions are the result of the simple desire to find meaning in our existence. And this, of course, does not have to be bad.
The problem is that there are times when asking these questions can end up affecting the motivation, self-esteem, confidence and emotions of the person, entering a state of mind in which, obsessed with giving answers to these questions, we are not able to find meaning to our own existence.
At this time, we can find ourselves facing what is known as an existential crisis, a time of life that manifests itself in most people but with a highly variable severity and duration. Many times, it is something that we interpret as natural and that we overcome without too many complications, but there are times when you can enter a spiral of negative emotions from which it is difficult to get out.
To prevent this phase of doubts, fear and uncertainty from ending up affecting our happiness and normal performance on a day-to-day basis, there are different things we can do. And it is what we are going to see in today’s article.
What is an existential crisis?
Before defining what an existential crisis is, it is perhaps more important to say what it is not. And it is that an existential crisis is neither a disease nor a psychological disorder . Therefore, it must be relativized in the sense that it must be clear that going through a moment like this is not because one suffers any mental pathology, far from it.
An existential crisis, which is sometimes also defined as an identity crisis, could be considered as an emotional state linked to negative emotions that arises from the difficulty of finding a purpose in our life . This feeling of not having a place in the world generates thoughts of hopelessness, frustration, demotivation and sadness.
And all these negative emotions are forming a vicious circle in which less and less meaning is found in one’s existence. Beyond this, as it is not a clinical condition, it cannot be diagnosed or measured. Each person feels it in a different way and with a different gravity.
The existential crisis can be focused on work, personal relationships, the person himself, future prospects, life in general, or it can be a mixture of many issues from different areas of life.
Be that as it may, this existential crisis, although we have said that it is by no means a pathology, it is true that this does not mean that it can be taken lightly, as it can be the gateway to real health problems. Therefore, it is important to act when we see that we are entering such a phase in our life.
Can an existential crisis hurt me?
Yes and no. Only you know. As we have been saying, it is not something measurable. It is a state of mind, so only you know to what degree it is affecting you and how much you are doing to overcome this phase of your life. Broadly speaking, and although obviously each person is different, the existential crisis can only harm you if you allow your own mind to feed back on negative emotions.
But what does this mean? It means that an existential crisis, even if it is a phase of our life in which we have to live with negative feelings, we are not able to find motivation for anything and everything seems to be meaningless, we have to force ourselves to have a proactive attitude.
Otherwise, the existential crisis will feed negative emotions. And these negative emotions will feed the existential crisis. If this trend does not stop (we will see how later), it is possible that what started as a simple doubt or fear about the meaning of life, is the gateway to depression, anxiety and even drug addiction .
These three situations do pose a serious problem for physical and emotional health. Therefore, it is important to know how to detect when we are going through a phase of existential crisis and act accordingly, taking different actions that help us reconnect with ourselves and understand that, although life may not make sense, it is not necessary have it to be happy.
What can I do about this feeling?
The most important thing to bear in mind is that, in the face of an existential crisis, we cannot let negative emotions take control , as they will lead us to depressive states that will prevent us from getting out of the loop.
An existential crisis should be taken as an opportunity to know ourselves better, connect with the people around us, find a new direction in our life and know what we want and what we need in it. Here are some suggestions of what you can (and should) do when you enter such a phase in your life.
- Analyze where you come from
Many times, existential crises can, if not solved, at least relativized, if we analyze where we come from. And it is that one of the worst things and what tends to make us enter the loop is not finding the reason why we have entered this phase. It is not always possible to do so, but if we are able to find the cause of this crisis, we will feel less lost. Perhaps it was due to a problem at work, a breakup, the loss of a loved one, a childhood trauma, an emotionally stressful situation, feeling alone… Seeing where we came from can be of great help.
- Do introspection exercises
When we say that we do not find meaning in life, what we really mean is that we are unknown to ourselves. And it is that when you don’t really know who you are, what you want, what you need, what your dream is … It is very easy for existential doubts and fears to appear.
In this sense, it is important that we always (not only when we have already entered this crisis) strive to connect with our inner “I”, be clear about what we want, spend time alone and listen to our emotions.
- Lean on your loved ones
Friends, family or partner. It is important to talk about our fears with our loved ones and accept with them that we are going through a phase in which we do not make sense of anything. By telling it, you will not only see that the whole situation is relativized, but they, people who know and love you, will be able to help you.
- Read psychology and self-help books
There are hundreds of books focused on getting to know yourself better and solving existential crises. If you think you need it, perhaps among those pages you will find a way to find out the origin of your crisis and advice to face and overcome this phase of life in the best possible way.
- Dedicate time to your passions
Dedicating time to what we like is the best way to forget that we are going through a crisis and, in addition, since we will generate positive emotions, it will be easier for us to face the situation with optimism. Reading, watching movies, playing sports, meeting friends, going out to dinner or lunch, hiking, going to the beach, writing, drawing … When you’re in a situation like this, spending time is more important than ever.
- Analyze your strengths
With the existential crisis, comes the lack of self-esteem. And low self-esteem makes us find even less meaning in our existence. For this reason, it is important that, when you are in a phase like this, you make an effort (and almost force yourself) to remember your strengths, the successes achieved, the good things that others say about you, your abilities, etc.
- Remember your values
When we are in a phase like this, it is important not to give up our values. No matter how downcast emotionally we are, we cannot fail ourselves. Remember to always act according to your ethics and morals. Otherwise, seeing that we have betrayed our principles, will cause us to fall further into crisis.
- Be compassionate with you
Existential crises do not understand time. There are people who overcome them in a few days, others in weeks, some in months and there are even those who can take years. You must remember that each person is different and do not punish yourself if you see that it takes longer than you thought to get out of this situation. Wounds have to heal slowly.
- Try meditation
Meditation has proven to be very helpful for people who are going through a phase of existential crisis. And it is one of the best tools to become familiar with ourselves, relax the mind, connect with the inner “I” and, ultimately, find meaning in our existence. It is clear that it is not a foolproof medicine, but it can help enormously.
- Use technology
Yes, technology. And is that the latest trend in mobile applications is to offer programs that help people to take care of their emotional health, which has traditionally been overshadowed by physical health. In this sense, the Meyo application , launched in 2020, is one of the highlights, because it has precisely a section in which it offers all kinds of content to overcome an existential crisis, with voiceovers, videos and short films whose usefulness has been endorsed by reputed psychologists.
- Request psychological help
Do not forget that a psychologist is the person best prepared to assist you. With behavioral therapies, this professional can help you detect the root of the problem and will advise you, depending on your personality, on certain changes in your lifestyle.