Almost everyone everyone experiences existential angst in some form at sometime in there life. I find it much easier to deal with when I can talk to others about it rather than bottling it all up, sadly most people don't want to be reminded. If you need somewhere to vent your thoughts please post them here. How do you deal with your existential angst? What opinions do you have on life and death? What advice do you have for others experiencing existential angst?

Tags: Existential, angst, condition, death, human, life

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Ah, the meaninglessness of life....something I think about quite often. I try not to dwell but tend to when I'm by my lonesome. Left to my own devices I fear I would be lost and drowning inside my own head.

 

Nevertheless I have a family and friends, a job and other responsibilities. So most of the time the meaninglessness of life is drowned out by the little things...cooking dinner, helping with homework, laughing at a joke, and so on.

 

So I don't know that I actually deal with it, I just ignore or forget about it while actually living. Or maybe that is how I deal....I go on going...I live and have fun.

 

  It's interesting to me how many people feel angst when alone. I have always felt more alone around people. I am most content when I am alone. Well can't say alone, I have dogs and cats and chickens. I'm most content when I'm not around people.

My existential angst is that I deconstruct everything and I keep thinking "it's all the same". I call it existential b/c it is about the nature of existence and the universe. It is a terrible feeling that is hard to shut up. The feeling comes and goes every few years. At times I have felt trapped in my body, even when doing things that are supposed to be fun, but I think that is also the strongest depression I have felt.

Hi Maggie,

I see you are in the 14-17 age range. I don’t recall experiencing existential angst at your age, and that’s probably because I was under the spell of fundamentalist Christianity. I thought that upon my death angels would usher me into Heaven. Since I no longer have that fantasy to comfort me, I’ve had plenty of episodes of existential angst. The mystery of my own existence can sometimes feel oppressive. I’m now 54 years old, and just last Saturday I attended my father’s funeral, so death has been on my mind.

I don’t have a solution to existential angst. I once thought that if I read a lot about death, studied it intensely, examined it logically, then the fear of death would dissipate. That didn’t work. However, I did discover a few books that I found helpful. You might want to check them out.

“Staring at the Sun: Overcoming the Terror of Death” by Irvin D. Yalom.
“Nothing to Be Frightened Of” by Julian Barnes.

I've never been as bottomlessly scared as I was in my fundamentalist childhood - for the christian god, for hell, for heaven, for judgment, for not finding the calling they said I should feel, for things that go bump in the night, there was no end to my angst. Becoming an atheist was the solution for me: I calmed down at last and have led a fearless life from that time - if not without painful confrontations with my parents.

Hi Chris,


Obviously we had different childhood experiences with fundamentalism. Despite the Sunday morning, Sunday night, and mid-week church attendance/brainwashing, I don’t recall being scared. I think I was mostly annoyed that I was missing out on some good television programming. So I must not have been thinking too deeply about religious issues. The pain and frustration largely started when I began my apologetics studies; in my efforts to rationally defend the faith, I discovered the irrationality of Christianity and lost my faith. Though atheism has liberated me from a load of falsehoods, I can’t help occasionally getting the chills when I contemplate the mysteries of existence and my own mortality.

Maybe this applies to other people and not just me: I think part of my brain knows that any day I might quit living, but another part of my brain "knows" that I will be alive tomorow.  If part of my brain didn't "know" that I will be alive tomorow (if I actually thought any given day was my last day), then I guess I would freak out and/or go into some kind of panic mode and/or go crazy and then I wouldn't properly live that day. 

 

When it comes down to it, at the minimum, (at least part of my brain thinks that) the only thing in the universe that matters is that I am self aware, so that even if the rest of my body didn't work, the only thing that would matter would be my being self aware for all eternity. 

 

I can't imagine being old.  I don't understand how old people can stand it.  Is there a certain age, may be 70?, 80? 90? 120?, when at a certain point, you freak out and go into some kind of panic mode and realize that you can no longer pretend that you "know" that you will be alive tomorow?  At a certain age, every time you see a movie, it might be your last movie; every time you do anything, that might be the last time you do that activity.  When you are a  certain age, if you start to read a book you might not finish it, if you begin to make a model airplain you might not finish it, if someone visits you, you might not finish the visit.  I guess at a certain age, when you have any ach or pain or symptom, you have to make a tough decision about whether to go to the hospital now or finish the activity you are doing - what you are doing might be the last time you can ever do it and it would be a shame to quit when you are not done yet just to go to the hospital and use up time you could have spent doing your activity, but no matter what you might die very soon and you have to decide where you want to die and who the last people you want to see should be...and if you have a lot of achs and pains over a period of maybe a year, your family can't just drop everything and rush to see you every time you think you are about to die, and if this happens and you are healthy one moment and dead the next your family won't be there when you quit living and if you get some bad disease and are in a hospital bed 24/7 for awhile before you die, that would really suck...

The older you get the less you're are concerned with everything you mention and appreciate your lets say internal state. It's not what you will receive so to speak that is important, it's what you already have.

"I can't imagine being old. I don't understand how old people can stand it."

What will you do then? Cling to the age you like best? You know that cannot be done and in such a mood you would miss all the best of the years when you are older. None of us can be sure that we´ll finish the books we´re reading, not even the very young.

Growing older can be very pleasant: I am no longer terrorized by hormones and I feel much more stable. I know more of myself and of the world I live in - I´ve learned how to cope with most of it. And I´m not jealous of the young, on the contrary! But I´m only 57, anything might happen yet ;-)

How can getting old be pleasant?  You are running out of time!  Aren't you going into some kind of panic mode, where every time you do anything, there is this underlying seriousness or urgerncy about how you are getting close to the end?  You have to start moving faster and craming in more activities in order to make up for lost time.  I don't see how you can stand it. 
If I´m running out of time, I have been running out of time all my life! I´m very happy that I´m past all the horrors of childhood and growing up - it´s taken a long time but now I´m enjoying the vista from hill Past 50, with a husband who matured in a beautiful way and two cats in their prime. I don´t feel urgency to cram activities, I rather look at it as I was taught in a Tai Chi class: how you do things is far more important than what you do, so concentrate on here and now. Have a happy day!

I am largely past my personal era of existential angst, now I suffer from very real temporal angst. My advice for someone suffering from what you describe, is to find something(s) you love to do, and  someone(s) you love to love... of course I still haven't been able to follow my own advice, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't. I have experience with suffering, loneliness, and nihilism... these experiences have taught me nothing overall, except that you treasure, joy, love, and serenity... of course I always knew this mentally, but to actually feel it, is another thing altogether.

 

I have also had, quite recently, an experience of lost time. It happened to be when I had my wisdom teeth out, and I was 'put under' by the anesthetic... That hour when they were drilling out my messed up teeth, does not exist for me. No dreams, no nothing. This is what I imagine death to be like, nothing, not a void, but nothing, no consciousness to perceive. So there really is nothing to be afraid of... except for  pain and the decline before death... unless you are afraid of dreamless sleep. I go to bed everyday, with the expectation of getting up again, but if I didn't, that's that.

 

So far I sadly haven't experienced any amazing lucid dreaming, or astral travel... it's disappointing I guess, but meh, what is... is

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