First things first: I have existential fears that, from time to time, paralyze every other aspect of my life.
I’ve always aimed towards “excellence” in my life: blessed by a high IQ and a strong body, I’ve always been good at sports, with great academic results, and have always lived happily, trying to “follow my bliss”.
I was always been a bit brainy and tidy — almost near OCD levels, but it never became troubling: it only spurred me towards more knowledge and excellence.
When I was eleven, however, I had my first existential crisis: I couldn’t see the point of hoarding toys, trophies and stuff, if at the end of the story everyone had to die.
My parents didn’t understand these feelings, but brought me my first pet, a cat that helped me out of this “depression” (I didn’t know better at the time) through love and play.
My usual, cheery character came back, and I only felt that strange melancholy from time to time.
When I was 21 my dad died, and apart from the logical grief that followed, I started obsessing more and more about the meaning of life.
I quit college; I read a lot to help myself out of what had been diagnosed as mild depression; I found out about Daoism, Buddhism, Existential Therapy, art therapy and loads of other stuff which later on turned into full-fledged passions (like mythology, Joseph Campbell and storytelling).
I went into therapy for one year, but never took any medications; after some time, I came to the personal and strong conclusion that nobody can “give” a meaning to your life, but that you have to find it out first-hand.
Just like that I was “healed” of my affliction.
I became strongly agnostic. I came to the conclusion that some things are unknowable by us humans, and maybe superficially didn’t give more thought to it than that.
Coincidentally, I found out about and fell in love with Paul Watzlawick and his hands-on self-corrective approach to change.
I started enjoying my life once more; I went back to my studies, took a degree, and went on many unfulfilling, high-pay jobs around Europe.
I was in a serious relationship at the time, but after some years I stopped feeling sexual and intellectual attraction for my beautiful, smart fianceè; we ended up splitting, and I enjoyed lots of random sex, weed, alcohol and partying for almost seven years.
But the flip side of all the fun was counterbalanced by a lot of thinking, that brought me to existential crisis once more.
It was milder this time, it didn’t stop me from functioning in social or work-related environments.
My main tool to avert these feelings of meaninglessness and emptyness was my own approach to life: agnosticism.
After some years of keeping this in check, I’ve gone back to living with my mother, and to pursue an enterpreneurial career, which isn’t taking off at the moment — but it’s no big deal, I have faith in my skills, and really like what I’m doing, so I can endure living in a small town, with few social or intellectual outlets.
I’m 38 years old, I still don’t feel the need to have children, and don’t believe in long term romantic relations.
I have wonderful friends and family, I’m blessed under so many aspects.
Yet, once more I’ve started feeling all the clutches of that cosmic fear that is existential crisis in the last few weeks.
Following my bliss is not enough, not anymore.
As the original poster of a thread (*) I found here on High Existence brilliantly stated,
“I see these types of beliefs as empty and cannot believe in anything that I cannot prove. The personal experience of emotion seems to be only psychological experience that ensures we survive by leading us to community with others, reproducing, and furthering our species.
Every philosophy I come across seems to be not enough to satisfy me because I have too much spirit in me to reject the spiritual, but also too much passion for truth […] to put my faith in anything that isn’t sure.”
At the moment I couldn’t care less about the all-consuming endeavors that seemed like the sole purpose of my life less than two weeks ago.
I couldn’t care less about overcoming a sport-related injury and going back to shape; even the love I still feel for those around me feels like a fake input, like the defective native software of a “biological robot”.
I KNOW that even if a God or a Buddha appeared in front of me right now to console me, I would find endless reasons to doubt and put everything in perspective.
The agnostic structure that kept me sane – no, that kept me happy – for so many years is still my main ally, but I simply don’t feel it’s true, emotionally speaking.
Despite knowing that it would be perfectly useless to fret over the existence of soul either way, I feel despair and horror clutching at my heart.
I’m rather unstable at the moment, swinging from feeling sort of fine to desperation. (don’t worry though, I don’t believe in opting out of it with actual or intellectual suicide [adhering to a faith to make cosmic fear subside]).
The only mild help I’ve found these days is through this website, a brilliant blog (http://nothingworks.weebly.com/), and breathing exercises I have learned during the years through yoga.
Nonetheless, I feel it’s all for nothing.
tl;dr: I’ve always suffered from existential fears, am in a crisis right now, and despite being more relaxed than during the first istances of this (thanks to previous work done on myself and agnosticism), I feel really bad.
I’m going to ask you guys some questions, from least important to most:
1) what do you think about this book / approach?
“Get Out of Your Mind & Into Your Life: The New Acceptance & Commitment Therapy” by Stephen Hayes.
Do you reckon it might help me or would it be “more of the same”?
2) what do you think about all of this?
3) Do you have any practical advice?
I thank you all in advance for any help or insight you might provide, and for being such an awesome community! :)
I can see where you’re coming from, my sense of empathy is probably my super power..
I have not read that book, but will look it up.
Have you ever read Conversations with God by Neale Donald Walsch? Don’t dismiss it as a religion based book because it is beyond that. I’d suggest that book over alot of self-help or ‘life-guide’ books.
@sedentary-nomad, thank you so much for answering!
Having someone acknowledge my situation is a small but concrete thing, which lifts a little weigh off my chest.
No, never heard of “Conversations with God” nor read it, but I’ll definitely look it up.
Discussing ‘I’ that’s why you’re here shhhh You are asking for your own keys to unlock your own house, you may have only glimpsed outside occasionally, lately.
How you get beyond that point that releases you from body/mind ‘safely’ to know Self, is goodbye to primal fears.