There may come a turning point in life, beyond which, it seems, there is emptiness. You just lived happily, smiled, and suddenly an invisible field appeared around you, preventing you from rejoicing, hoping for the best, making plans. In psychology, this phenomenon is called an existential crisis. Its appearance is associated with age, tragic events, awareness of the finiteness of life.

Causes of an existential crisis

sad girl

Psychology describes many types of crises. Some are associated with the transition to a new stage of development, others with professional achievements, and others with interpersonal relationships. Most of them are predictable, beautifully described.

An existential crisis is another type of crisis situation. It is deep and complex. It is based on the loss of the meaning of existence, fear of a future life, lack of desire to live, fight, achieve goals. Dreams, aspirations, feelings disappear. What remains is hopelessness, grayness, isolation from the living, active world.

Most often, the emergence of an existential crisis is associated with age. At a certain stage, a person suddenly realizes that most of his life is left behind. Dreams, plans that he built in the past, remained unfulfilled. Moreover, there is no more time left for their performance. Thousands of other people appeared nearby, more successful, contented, strong.

At what age do these thoughts appear? According to statistics, most often - in the region of 45, 60 years. Forty-year-olds often fail to cope with a midlife crisis. About sixty years old, the body loses energy, ages, illnesses deprive us of prospects, make us take care only of ourselves - often there is no strength left to achieve external goals.

How to get out of an existential crisis?

But in fact, an existential crisis can occur at any age. It all depends on the person himself, his attitude towards himself and towards reality. You can create a masterpiece in painting at 18 and decide that the goal is fulfilled, it’s better to do nothing.

Other reasons include:

  • professional crisis. You are exhausted, reached, as it seems, the top of your career.
  • The death of loved ones, especially if it is unexpected. You live, and suddenly the one who has been with you for many years leaves. Emptiness, pain, fear, defenselessness embraces you.
  • own serious illness. It is difficult to come to terms with the loss of the ability to move, to communicate, to know that there is practically no chance of survival.
  • The growing up of children. The moment when they leave home, start their own families, women are especially hard hit. But practice shows that a father who realizes that his girl is already an adult woman, and his son has become the head of the family, is experiencing a deep crisis.
  • Overwork, constant stress. You work, spin like a squirrel in a wheel, and nothing happens. One day you stop and realize that you no longer have the strength to live.

The reasons are easy to describe, but why don't they cause an existential crisis for everyone? Here is a businessman, he suddenly left the business, asked to call himself Van Gogh and became an artist. He is happy and cheerful. Or here's another example - a woman was diagnosed with cancer, but she pulled herself together, underwent treatment, achieved remission, and now holds a high position in a large company. It seems that the existential crisis did not affect this couple of heroes.

The main reason is that age, departure of children, divorce, illness, death of loved ones are the factors that trigger the crisis. Its true essence is in relation - how you feel about yourself, your role in life. The desire to feel sorry for oneself, fear of the future, inability and unwillingness to cope with negative emotions, guilt - these are the main causes of an existential crisis.

Crisis Symptoms

In describing the signs of an existential crisis, deep depression is most often present. A person loses reasons to enjoy life; he is seized by hopelessness, lack of strength to act or desire anything. The dream that used to call forward suddenly began to seem empty. The goals, relationships with loved ones were filled with emptiness. It's hard to get up in the morning. At night, because of black thoughts, it is not possible to fall asleep. Bright colors faded, everything became black and white, gray. This condition may be accompanied by thoughts of suicide.

The next symptom of a crisis is the loss of the ability to experience life clearly and fully. It seems that you look at everything, as if from the outside, you are not a direct participant in the events.

A person experiencing an existential crisis is distinguished by a feeling of deep loneliness. Friends, relatives, best friends with whom you used to move mountains - they all seem to have ceased to understand you. They moved away from you, or perhaps you yourself put up a wall behind which you stopped letting them in. Their feelings have lost their relevance to you. You yourself have lost the opportunity to empathize with them.

Another important symptom is a feeling of overload. Thoughts about life, the finiteness of being, doubts about one's own worth suck out all the forces, leaving in your place a dwarf, bent under the yoke of problems.

How to overcome an existential crisis

The state in which a person finds himself experiencing a crisis of loss of the meaning of life can be very difficult.

Basically, there are three main ways out of it:

  • The saddest and most destructive thing is to hide in illness, to close oneself from life. This option does not correspond to the meaning of human existence.
  • Close your eyes to the problem, decide that life goes on, live as before. The position is comfortable, but based on the work of internal defense mechanisms that hide the causes of the crisis. As a result, the problem remains unresolved, and the person runs the risk of encountering it again.
  • The best option is to realize the problem situation, analyze it and form a new reliable system of values.

There are several ways to overcome an existential crisis.

Do something new

It's a hackneyed truth, but if you find an activity that will fascinate you, in which you feel free, it will help mitigate the crisis. Since childhood, you dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, but you succumbed to fashion and became a lawyer. Now you understand that this is a mistake. Start inventing clothes, knit, sew, create.

If it seems that there is no childhood dream, look around. In many cities there are clubs for tourism, embroidery, singing, yoga, and intellectual circles. Try to join them and find something that will make you feel the joy of life.

Positive thinking

The only way to get rid of black thoughts is to think positively, to look for the good in every moment.

Do this exercise regularly - before going to bed, remember the whole day, divide it into separate events. This will help you highlight bright moments, something good, from the general feeling of dullness. Especially for a long time dwell on the events that in ordinary life gave you joy, think about them, try to experience bright emotions.

Conscious acceptance of life

Walk, stop, observe yourself, the world around you. Change habits. Trust your intuition. Take new routes. Eat new foods. Listen to the birds singing. Feel the raindrops on your skin. Get up early. Do extraordinary things. Learn something new.

An existential crisis is associated with deep feelings of loss of the meaning of life. It is caused by fear of death, loss of relatives, lack of prospects. New hobbies, discovery of the values ​​of life, its beauty help to cope with the crisis.

Things to know (Q&A)

What are the 5 components of an existential crisis?

Existential crisis questions

  • Crisis of freedom and responsibility. You have the freedom to make your own choices, which can change your life for the better or worse. ...
  • Crisis of death and mortality. ...
  • Crisis of isolation and connectedness. ...
  • Crisis of meaning and meaninglessness. ...
  • Crisis of emotion, experiences, and embodiment.

What do you do if someone has an existential crisis?

There are several things you can do to work through and overcome an existential crisis.

  • Adjust your viewpoint. What's most important is your mindset and the lens through which you look at this experience. ...
  • Keep a gratitude journal. ...
  • Connect with people. ...
  • Practice mindfulness. ...
  • Redirect your energy. ...
  • Don't dwell on the past.

How do you deal with existential thoughts?

'What's the Point? ' How to Deal With Existential Dread

  1. Accept uncertainty.
  2. Check your values.
  3. Reach out.
  4. Journal.
  5. Meditate.
  6. Look for joy.
  7. Try therapy.

What is a word for existential crisis?

In psychology and psychotherapy, existential crises are inner conflicts characterized by the impression that life lacks meaning. ... Synonyms and closely related terms include existential dread , existential vacuum, existential neurosis, and alienation.

How would you describe an existential crisis?

An existential crisis means we have the opportunity to get back in touch with our values, meaning and purpose, and with what we want to make of our lives . This can help us evaluate, plan and adapt our actions and direction in order to lead the life we want and will be happy with.

How long can an existential crisis last?

19.4% of people said their existential crisis lasted between 3–6 months . 34.7% said they are still going through one.

What is an example of existential crisis?

An existential crisis refers to feelings of unease about meaning, choice, and freedom in life. ... 1 For example, a college student moving away from home or an adult going through a difficult divorce might feel as though the foundation on which their life was built is crumblin

What should you do if you have an existential crisis?

8 ways to defeat an existential crisis

  1. Rely on loved ones. Support from our friends and family is crucial when facing an existential crisis. ...
  2. Express how you feel. ...
  3. Find joy in the small things. ...
  4. Focus on what you can control. ...
  5. Practice mindfulness and meditation. ...
  6. Join a support group. ...
  7. Reconnect with your life's purpose.

Is it normal to have an existential crisis?

Experiencing an existential crisis is common, and it is normal and often healthy to question one's life and goals . However, an existential crisis can contribute to a negative outlook, especially if a person cannot find a solution to their questions of meaning.

Does existential dread go away?

Creating more joy in your life won't make existential dread disappear , but you may notice that the bulk of your worries fade into the background and become much more manageable.

What happens in an existential crisis?

A. With existential crises, there's usually a turning point and moment of awareness that's often linked with worrying about death . This turning point causes people to think about and question the meaning in their lives. ... They may have profound feelings of dissatisfaction about where they are in life.