It may sound cliché, but do you ever find yourself asking, “What is the meaning of life?” Are you anxious that the path you are on isn’t right for you? Are there parts of yourself that you have never been true to, and are now finding need release? Existential anxiety can be a real concern that leaves you searching for answers.
What is Existential Anxiety?
Existential anxiety is a specific kind of an anxiety disorder. Unlike some people whose anxiety is caused by the fear of germs, being embarrassed in public, or other fears, existential anxiety sufferer’s fears are more rooted in the “big picture.” For instance:
- “What is the meaning of my life?”
- “What is my purpose?”
- “Is there more out there”?
- “What’s the point?”
- “Why do I feel so disconnected from other people?”
You may also feel existential anxiety regarding whether or not you can truly be your authentic self and are afraid of the possible rejection that may occur if you do.
The Crisis of Existential Anxiety
Although it may be normal and healthy to have periods of self-reflection, asking these kinds of questions often could trigger a spiritual crisis. People who have a “midlife crisis” and suddenly buy an expensive car, participate in an affair, or quit their jobs, are suffering from a crisis of existential anxiety. It can be disconcerting, to say the least, to come the conclusion that your life has no meaning or purpose, even if, to others, you have the trappings of “success.”
Looking for Meaning In Life
It is not important just to be alive, humans also need a reason for existence. This has been true for as long as our species has existed. For example:
- People have a need to feel belonging and acceptance.
- We believe that there is a purpose to life.
- We want to know that what we do means something in this world.
- People need to be connected to other people.
When we don’t have answers to these kinds of “big picture” issues, we may either go searching for answers, or become trapped in a thought process that can lead to depression, or worse.
How Can Existential Anxiety Be Treated?
Existential anxiety may seem like an overwhelming problem, but it can be treated. A therapist who is trained in transpersonal anxiety treatment, can help you find resolutions to your anxiety. This treatment method allows the therapist to work with you to develop the resources already inside you.
You can identify resources outside of yourself that support you and allow you to be more confident in your place in the world. The process allows you to identify the sources of your anxiety and develop tools to address those issues. Together, you and your therapist can help you to find meaning again in your life.
Healthy Ways to Address Existential Anxiety
Besides formal therapy, there are other ways that you can address existential anxiety in your life. Ways that don’t involve making rash decisions with lifelong consequences. For example:
- If you are questioning the value of your work, it may be time for a career change. Consider transitioning into a new field that will have more meaning than your current work. A life coach can be a great resource for this.
- Are you realizing you aren’t as young as you used to be? You can combat the effects of aging by exercising, eating healthy foods, and consulting with your doctor.
- Spend time in nature, which can be calming and have positive mental health benefits.
- Volunteer your time and give back to your community through an organization aligned with your values and interests.
- Spend time with family, friends, and the people who care about you.
Existential anxiety does not have to lead to a crisis. Work with your therapist, can help you discover new meaning in your life. Together, create opportunities to feel like you are being true to your authentic self.