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Existential Concerns - Midlife Crisis, Existential Crisis, Existential Angst
Midlife Crisis Men & Women, Existential Crisis We go through many transitions in our life. One of them could be called midlife crisis - a normal process as part of our maturation as an adult, in giving us the opportunity to discover more of ourselves, our purpose & motivate us to get the most from life. Midlife crisis is not usually about losing our youth, there are often deeper concerns at play and something may be missing in our life we can't quite put our finger on. We may make unrealistic transformations & attempts to cover up our midlife crisis and can experience a midlife crisis in many forms. We may be disappointed, frustrated, about missed opportunities, unmet goals, fear taking risks. Maybe not the person we thought we were or sensing life may be passing us by, time is running out, we may have been living in a comfort zone, which no longer works for us, wanting to explore life in different, challenging ways. "What's next?" may be a question we ask. We may have a career dilemma, work crisis, crisis about what is happening in the world. Some may have a more personal, emotional crisis or experience a deep, existential sadness. We may also have a crisis in our relationship or have started an affair. Some of these crises we may be experiencing may also point to a life crisis of an existential nature, what some people have termed as midlife crisis in men or women. (The menopause or male menopause - andropause, has sometimes been linked to midlife crisis.) Some may be worried or alarmed about our body changing, ageing or thoughts of old age, maybe dying. The midlife crisis counselling can explore these further with you...
At a turning point, we may feel deeply emotional. Painful though it may be at times, crisis can also be an opportunity for change. Little is guaranteed in life and we may fear the unknown. Questioning life's meaninglessness, crisis may also point us towards what really matters to us, our values, conscience, integrity & purpose. Aware of our Self and self-conscious (beyond our physical sense, personal traits and social roles) we may have a sense of being separate and distinct from others - our existential self. Some may come to existential therapy having some sort of identity crisis, as if we are now on a quest for our authentic identity, closer to who we really are. Existential therapy can be a space to explore our midlife crisis, existential crisis further, what now makes our life satisfying.
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Being Restless Yet Not Knowing Why We can be successful, creative or be rewarded in some aspects (maybe our relationships, work or business, where we may be a high achiever, at the top of our profession), yet unfulfilled at a deeper level or not quite know how we got here... No longer comfortable on our dependence to worldly things external to us, we can become despairing. For some our sense of worth may be based upon what we do & what we have, without valuing who we are and what we really feeI. Rich in terms of wealth, we may feel impoverished inside, deeply unhappy, or alienated, as if our soul is restless. We could be very busy, rushing or chasing things - constantly distracted, yet life appreciation may be missing. We may have lost our focus or purpose. Our relationships may seem hollow. We may be stuck in a cycle of being trapped in a constant state of awareness of the passage of time, or the fact that however wonderful life can be, it has to end with death. Confronted by existential realities, the impermanency or preciousness of our life may seem meaningless. We may ponder upon life cycles, loss & death, transformation & renewal. Getting older can also bring us up against our own existential issues. Some may fear death or dying, or come up against our own mortality. What's preordained, our destiny & how this relates to our free will, may be troubling us, so we may be questioning not only what we may be calling for, but also what may be called of us (See also Living To Our Full Potential). We may be empty or alone in the world, even when surrounded by people. There may be a physical void inside of us, a sense of existential emptiness and we may seek deeper meaning around this. In some sort of existential depression, we may long to create a new way of being and seeing in the world and now seek existential therapy. Some of our concerns may therefore be of an existential nature (what some people call existential uncertainty or existential insecurity).
Existential Issues - Something Missing Despite friends & family, at some point, men & women can experience the stark realisation that we are alone, yet free, which may provoke our unease & anxiety. We may be suffering inside from both the limitations & possibilities of the transitory nature of life. "How did I get here?", "Is this it?" we may wonder. "Why bother?", "Why am I here?" may be other concerns. This experience can trigger existential crisis. Some people call this existential angst or midlife crisis in men or women - what has simply been described as boredom. We can invest our time, energy & passion on external factors, entertainment or material things, yet we may have neglected our very core - our inner being. Most of us have experienced those lonely times, as if we are an outsider. Yet these experiences can also offer us the opportunity for looking inside ourself, reflecting on the world and us in it. Despite what we have in life, something can be missing for us, which we can't quite fathom. We may have a sense that our "old show" is over, struggling with a new phase of life. We may have regrets, wishing we had done more, or for what might have been. It can dawn on us that there is more to life than what's happening to us at the moment. We may have less tangible, yet important "meaning of life" concerns, with little relevance to our past, intensely wondering what is this all about, or struggle to reconcile life's big questions, the transient nature of existence. And the crisis we experience may point us to deep life purpose, dilemmas. Alone or lonely inside, we may be at a crossroads, or turning point, in which old ways of responding no longer work, as we experience mid-life crisis or existential angst (sometimes called male menopause, male midlife crisis or female mid-life crisis).
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Existential Guilt Along our existential journey we may experience existential guilt in not taking responsibility for our own life, struggling to become the person we have the capacity to become (see also Being & Doing - Dilemmas We May Hold).
Wherever I go, Whatever I do, Whoever I am with - Here 'I' am.
To know & live this 'I' - this 'me', this is my challenge. Whatever I am 'I' have to be.
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Existential Anxiety Living in a world that is never certain, secure & not always predictable or known, can bring us up against existential anxiety & emotional swings of a different kind. We are presented with challenges in how to respond (become fearful or choose whether to think about or embrace this challenge) & understand the meaning of all this, which can impact upon the sense of our very existence. Being with others & inhabiting our body are existential givens, which can't be avoided. Existential anxiety can be seen as a human given - a daily struggle at some level, inevitable, unavoidable, universal in us all, normal - not to be "removed, resolved or cured". Our existential anxiety can be seen as our recognition that we are free with all its possibilities, yet limitations and have awareness of our inescapable death. We may have a sense of time running out. Our existential anxiety can also promote our growth, be instructive as we learn our response to it, addressing the paradoxical nature of our existence - the experience that we are, which precedes & runs deeper than what we are - our essence. What we are can be considered as the givens of our existence, which are not negotiable, like our genes, gender, race, culture, family background, even our name. Taking personal responsibility for our existential anxiety is anxiety-provoking in itself. We can come up against overlapping existential dilemmas through:
- Our physical experience, which relates to the material world that surrounds us, our body, health, with a dilemma of how we can fully live, when we could die any moment
- Our psychological aspects - about how we see ourselves, the impact of our past, our future possibilities. Our dilemma here may be about "how can I be me", free and vulnerable, responsible & powerful without knowing all the answers?
- Our social considerations. Our dilemma here may be what role other people have, how we can be both an individual, separate, yet part of the wider world, whole. We may also be questioning who am I without a role?
- Our spiritual realm. Our existential dilemma here may be responding to an external value system, and a more meaningful value system of our own. We may question how we should live.
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Existential Despair, Existential Depression We may be heartbroken, feel helpless inside, yet not know fully why. We may be sad that nothing seems to matter anymore. Our sadness may be of a universal nature. We may be tearful and moved, yet not depressed. We may classify our despair only as a weakness, about being anxious, lost, stuck. Some of these associated feelings connected to our despair can be worked through in the therapy. Yet our despondency, lostness may also be about coming to terms with something intangible. Our despair, existential depression can be as if we are unfulfilled from the depths of our soul. As if living in a cave of pointlessness, we may at times experience a sense of meaninglessness, yet a longing or yearning as we question "What am I doing?" or "What am I here for?". This uncomfortable or familiar despair (maybe manifesting as disappointment or cynicism) that we experience may also point to a sense of waste as we struggle to be all of who we are - our true worth, living as a free individual. Yet balancing competing dilemmas & expectations inside us & out there in the world, is not easy. Losing faith or hope, we may be in existential despair, because we are not being the person who we truly are or want to be. And the more conscious we become of this, the more intense is our despair, as if we are experiencing some sort of existential depression. We may be holding on to existential nihilism, that nothing matters, life has no meaning or value, so loss or grief makes no difference. Strong on the outside, we may become defiant or choose to avoid our existential despair through pleasures, habits or addictions, yet it doesn't quite disappear. It is as if our sense of existence (that we are in this world) is evolving, transforming, which can be confusing. The experience of existential despair may not entirely be able to be taken away, yet acknowledging our despair can for some facilitate hope. One challenge may be learning to live more lightly with our existential despair. Further existential challenges may include: how to be internally strong - able to tolerate existential insecurity or uncertainty, to be able to allow this, surrendering to what is not in our control, unknowable, willing to be all of who we are, close to our true self. Existential psychotherapy & existential therapy can be a space to mull over these important concerns, and also we get in touch with what we want, our commitment & values, how we want to evolve.
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Existential Concerns - Our Direction We may be in genuine despair or existential depression, regret, have a sense of deep sorrow, grief or pain for both us & the world, and these experiences may be of an existential nature - what has been called existential anxiety. Some people report these emotions like a kind of lamenting, wailing of the soul. Mourning our losses, grieving over our lost past may be important for us. A cliche for some, yet very real for others, is the experience of midlife crisis or sense of everything passing by, as we seek a different or new purpose, direction, which is meaningful to us. Not really in the right place, we may want to change our life direction, or have our "old life" back, yet recognise things won't be quite the same again. We may be searching for the secret of our life only to find there isn't one. We may be in touch with a suffering & love, which is beyond what's personal just to us and inescapable, pointing us towards a new direction. Whether to be authentic or inauthentic, moment by moment may be a further challenge. These less tangible challenges can also be explored in existential therapy & existential psychotherapy. (See also Life's Journey - Connecting To Our Own Inner Direction)
Existential Counselling, Existential Therapy Some of the stark feelings in life - the shadow side of life, sense of emptiness, loneliness, disappointment, disillusionment, frustration, disconnection, alienation, meaninglessness, pointlessness, loss, separation, anger or depression, may be of an existential nature, as too may our grief, loss - the very dilemmas of being human with its existential mysteries. We may be in touch with an existential loneliness, our helplessness over others & external events, as if we can control them. Letting go of something maybe a need for some. We may let these feelings & existential concerns be bigger than us, losing our self in the process and we may experience a crisis of identity. We may be asking what is left for us, what inspires us, moves us. We may want to explore how is it that we are alone, yet also connected & inseparable from others, the wider world. How we embrace our existential experiences, yet be free, grow, respond to the life we have and reduce our existential anxiety, may be challenging. A further challenge may be taking responsibility for our existential angst, experiencing it with dignity and courage and being present, not just understanding it. We may not only experience deep sorrow (existential depression), but also be in touch with something else stirring, may be a deep longing & yearning, need for compassion, and this too can be shared, explored in the existential therapy. Pondering existential questions, soulful matters, the therapy at this stage may also include rumination, or deep conversations together, about life, longing & its meaning, regret, loss & grief (see Existential Grief), love, values, paradox & our very existence, with its accompanying fragility. For some, questioning what our life means may nudge us towards spiritual enquiry. And we may also want to include our spiritual or religious life or enquiry as a part of existential therapy. These existential issues, our existential angst, or indeed existential crisis can be heard & reflected upon in the therapy. (See also Peace Of Mind, Stilling Our Mind, Contentment, Inner Peace, Calmness - What May Help)
Midlife Crisis, Existential Crisis, Existential Therapy, Existential Counselling Questions We may have questions about mid-life crisis, existential crisis, existential angst, e.g.:
- Often people talk of a male midlife crisis, is there a difference between midlife crisis in men and midlife crisis in women?
- What are midlife crisis symptoms?
- What is an existential crisis and can existential psychotherapy, existential counselling help?
- Are existential problems, existential issues the same for everyone?
- Does existential therapy cure existential angst?
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