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Existential Crisis, Support Group

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Agent Intellect

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#2
i don't think i've ever found meaninglessness or my (often constant) realization of my own mortality to be the source of my depression. i sometimes get a feeling like vertigo if i think about it deeply, but i i suppose i've embraced my insignificant, meaningless existence.
 
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#3
I've been depressed for about three years and have regularly contemplated suicide. Sometimes I wish I could just be ignorant and pay attention to the "superficial."
 

Artifice Orisit

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#4
I have doubts,
I used to doubt the meaning of my existence: Does life matter?
Then I doubted my existence: Am I indeed alive?
Next I doubted the reality of this existence: Am I even real?
Now I doubt the functionality of doubt itself: Huh?

Suicide is even more pointless than life, better to go out in a hedonistic bang.
Oookay I'm not going to think about that, it sounds like too much fun.
...this isn't helping.

I'm not depressed,
I'm just finding it hard to care about the morality imposed upon me.
Is it not the INTP's nature to rebel from the norms of society?
That's a dangerous thought :D
 
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#5
Well I think that suicide is JUST as pointless as life. No less or no more. In fact I've already pretty much decided that I won't let anyone or anything take my life other than me. I guess I have that much of an ego :D
 

Inappropriate Behavior

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#6
I resolved my cisis and depression by thinking of life, death and everything else as experiences. Asking 'Why not?' as often as asking 'Why?' If the answer to 'Why not?' is something akin to 'because it would be a waste of time' then couter yourself and say that no experience is a waste of time. It may not be the optimum use of your time but neither is sitting around thinking about whether or not it means anything. You're here, you percieve things, it may not mean anything but so what? Go for the ride.
 

Artifice Orisit

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#7
You're here, you percieve things, it may not mean anything but so what? Go for the ride.
But how far do you take it?
Why not just stop caring about morality, survival or anything else?
Comparing life to poker, why not go all in?
All or nothing, live in the moment, to unfettered, to see the world as your playgrond.
Because you no longer fear death at all.
 

Inappropriate Behavior

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#8
I would propose that somewhere deep down, you know which direction to take given a set of options. When there is no part of your inner psyche screaming at you not to go all in, THEN go all in. If something inside is telling you not yet, then keep the ride going.

Simplistic I know but I learned in life it is better if I don't care about one extreme or the other. Being an observer of life by definition means to take a somewhat passive role but if you balance it with fulfilling a desire to experience, unafraid of the consequences than you just end up wherever the ride takes you. In other words, there's no hurry but what are you waiting for?
 

snowqueen

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#9
I've been depressed for about three years and have regularly contemplated suicide. Sometimes I wish I could just be ignorant and pay attention to the "superficial."
This is some advice which you can either take or discard.

There are a few things you can do to begin to improve your situation a little bit at a time.

1. Stop contemplating suicide.
I know this sounds a bit too obvious, but having worked with suicidal people and also people with chronic pain, one of the worst things is entertaining the thoughts. It is addictive. There are two cognitive techniques which you can practice (operative word: PRACTICE) One is thought-stopping where you simple say ''stop" to the thoughts until they do stop. And the other is to notice them, label them and then let them float away. If you do this consistently you will find an improvement after a month. But you must commit yourself to doing it or it won't work.
2. At the end of each day keep a note of every little thing that went right and any times you felt remotely content or happy. Note down what you were doing at that time.

3. At the beginning of each day set one very small goal towards whatever future you would prefer. It must be achievable in a day. Even it is simply something like 'clean the bathroom sink'.

4. Try to develop a mindfulness in the moment when you are doing everyday tasks. So if you are vacuuming the carpet, instead of daydreaming or thinking, force yourself to notice the carpet, the feel of the vacuum cleaner, the noise of it etc. If you go for walks in the countryside or even the city do the same - make an effort to notice the sensory input in the experience.
 

Kianara

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#10
Stop thinking for a moment,
Yes. I would like to stop thinking too much. Because then I sometimes get existential, which is far too familiar to the depression I went thorugh last year.

But everyone I know says I "think too much," I think that I think too much. I would like to be able to stop thinking.
 

didyouknow

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#11
I have gone through this over the past year or so and come to the conclusion that the scariest thing about observation is that the more you grow detached from what you are observing, the more disturbing it appears.
 

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#12
When you become detached enough, everything becomes beautiful. For me, the lack of purpose or meaning is the most beautiful thing of all. There's no reason life needs to exist, but it does anyways - I find that amazing, inspiring, and beautiful. At least that is the conclusion I'm sitting on in the midst of a cyclical existential crisis that has gone on since I was 12 years old or so.
 

Jennywocky

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#13
1. Stop contemplating suicide.
I know this sounds a bit too obvious, but having worked with suicidal people and also people with chronic pain, one of the worst things is entertaining the thoughts. It is addictive. There are two cognitive techniques which you can practice (operative word: PRACTICE) One is thought-stopping where you simple say ''stop" to the thoughts until they do stop. And the other is to notice them, label them and then let them float away. If you do this consistently you will find an improvement after a month. But you must commit yourself to doing it or it won't work.​
I have mixed feelings about this.

In some ways it makes sense. In other ways, it has been about as useful as having someone tell me, "Just don't feel sad."

I don't really want to call it bad advice, because if it works it is good advice. I just don't think it is effective for every situation -- if you can't eventually find a positive reason to live, you're going to keep coming back to this.

The rest I think is good stuff, thank you for sharing it. :)

I have gone through this over the past year or so and come to the conclusion that the scariest thing about observation is that the more you grow detached from what you are observing, the more disturbing it appears.
Sort of like how words stop making sense if you really pay attention to the sounds you are making or writing? I've had that weird feeling before. It's like I just see the lines or hear the sounds but no longer attach the meaning.
 

NoID10ts

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#14
I'm definitly going through an existential crisis, and have been for a long time now. I wonder if it will end in a new and improved outlook on life, or a bullet through the brain.

I find myself contemplating suicide more and more. It's hard not to. Lately, circumstances are putting my back up against the wall and I'm either going to explode or implode.
 

Wisp

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#15
*hug*

I vote for explosion.
 

snowqueen

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#16
I have mixed feelings about this.

In some ways it makes sense. In other ways, it has been about as useful as having someone tell me, "Just don't feel sad."

I don't really want to call it bad advice, because if it works it is good advice. I just don't think it is effective for every situation -- if you can't eventually find a positive reason to live, you're going to keep coming back to this.
I know what you're saying and I don't disagree - but while it is very hard if not impossible to control feelings like sadness it is actually remarkably easy to control your thoughts if you do the work.

It is perfectly possible to feel sad, despairing, stressed, grief, existential angst - whatever - and not entertain ideas of suicide. Thought stopping and other cognitive techniques will not 'cure' despression, but it can protect you against a fatal course of action and also against being not only tormented by the world, but by yourself.

Once you refuse to contemplate suicide then you are forced to find alternative options to improve your situation.
 

snowqueen

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#17
Lately, circumstances are putting my back up against the wall and I'm either going to explode or implode.
You could try drawing up a list of possible things you could do - don't stop till you get to 100. Starting with

I could run away and join the circus
I could create a time machine and go back to ... and ...

and similar madcap schemes

you might just come up with a fresh idea! It helps defeat that kind of black and white thinking.

Don't for a minute think I don't know how difficult things are though - just that desperate times call for desperate measures.

((Noddy))
 
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#18
Sometimes I find myself randomly imagining the absence of existence -- like absolute nothing. I start by imagining myself not existing. When I do this, I can never seem to come away with a sense that my existence is important or critical. It's like if I never existed, nothing seems essentially different in my view of the universe.

The weird thing is that even when I imagine not existing, I can't quite do it. I still imagine that I exist, just somewhere "beneath" all known existence. As if I were buried without any experience of anything, but still somehow "there".

I usually end up marveling at my own existence, feeling amazed at the fact that this random bunch of atoms somehow houses a distinct consciousness, and that this is somehow me. I kind of feel unworthy to possess such an amazing thing. My heart keeps beating and I keep moving, thinking, dreaming, and it all seems so surreal. How could the material world have created such a thing? How am I? It's all so fragile. I feel so wonderfully vulnerable.
 

Artifice Orisit

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#19
I just want to take a moment to say snowqueen is a wonderful person.
Or at least an altruistic one.

It is perfectly possible to feel sad, despairing, stressed, grief, existential angst - whatever - and not entertain ideas of suicide.
From the right perspective suicide seems like a great way to have fun, however after a few minutes happily contemplating the hilarious theatrics someone could get up to when they don't fear death, the will to actually do it has been lost.
So yeah my advice is the opposite, feel free to think about suicide all you want, make it absolutely absurd, have fun with the idea and don't think for a second that killing yourself will prove anything; I feel it's my public duty to make fun of people who commit suicide, not because I'm a heatless prick (...though it helps) but because it's the most healthy reaction to such an event.

At least that is the conclusion I'm sitting on in the midst of a cyclical existential crisis that has gone on since I was 12 years old or so.
At 12? Impressive :D

I'm definitly going through an existential crisis, and have been for a long time now. I wonder if it will end in a new and improved outlook on life, or a bullet through the brain.
Does this work for you? (below)
When you become detached enough, everything becomes beautiful. For me, the lack of purpose or meaning is the most beautiful thing of all. There's no reason life needs to exist, but it does anyways - I find that amazing, inspiring, and beautiful.
In some ways it makes sense. In other ways, it has been about as useful as having someone tell me, "Just don't feel sad."
Have you ever fantasised (no Noddy, not that way) about going to see a shrink (excuse my slang) and being asked the seemingly obligatory "Now why do you think you've come here today?" question and replying in a deadpan-cynical voice "To be objectified, verbally deconstructed and ultimately fixed" just for the shock value.
Twisted thoughts like this are what motivate me to live... and yes I'm aware that actually doing this would just be petty, I'm doing a perfectly good job of objectifying myself thank-you-very-much (Woo sarcasm… *facepalm*).
 

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#20
I was lucky(?) enough to have my pastor destroy the little faith I had in Christianity, as well as most of the respect I had for authority, around that time... if somebody else hadn't already killed him I probably would. At least I got anarchism out of my system at a young age.

Does this work for you? (below)
It's treating me pretty well right now.. I'm actually starting to feel like I'm part of something big, not a single human fumbling through the world, but part of a continuum of life that started billions of years ago. Yeah, none of it matters, but why should that stop me from doing anything? It results in a feeling of total freedom.. I make choices in order to mesh with society, but it's me making that choice and no one else. I sometimes feel like an alien, and have developed a somewhat misanthropic view of humanity (though not from hate, just disappointment). We have the potential do a lot of amazing things, including create new life, mechanical and/or biological, and spread it throughout the universe (eventually.. if we survive that long). We have the potential to become god-like. There is of course a mental disconnect from this line of thinking.. I'm always aware that it is theoretically pointless. Theoretically though - I don't know for sure that my actions don't matter in some way I can't perceive.. and joining in the suffering isn't very fun, so why not rise above it? I live with the hope that humanity is not the end, but the beginning.
 

Agent Intellect

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#22
i've contemplated suicide quite a bit, and then i began thinking "wouldn't it be wonderful if i got a brain tumor?" i could just imagine myself cracking jokes about it (of course my tumor is always on my mind) and making other people uncomfortable about it. thats when i realized, for me at least, that the thoughts of suicide are nothing but self indulgence. i've always imagined what everyone would think when they heard i was dead, and the idea of people feeling sorry for me was comforting.

the strange thing is, meaninglessness doesn't depress me, and yet i'm still depressed (sometimes more then others). one thing that keeps me going, though, is an insatiable drive to figure it all out, to find out how existence works, and how peoples minds (particularly my own) work. i'm not depressed or inundated by the idea of a vast existence and my own insignificance, merely fascinated and curious, and i suppose thats what keeps me going.
 

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#23
This just popped into my head.. but couldn't most existential crises be defined along the lines of a conflict with the Will to Power? In a realization that extrinsic power is meaningless, life loses it's shine. I think my solution has been to project that will inward in an attempt to be a master of myself. Power over oneself, at least to me, seems like a worthy goal even under the blank stare of an unknowing universe. Power over oneself to me means power over one's subconscious/unconscious mind as well, and freedom from species-centric strains of thought, etc.
 

jarred

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#24
Saying life is meaningless doesn't make any sense.

If you accept that life is meaningless, then by extension everything you do and say is meaningless. So saying life is meaningless doesn't mean anything at all.

It is the equivalent of saying "Periwinkle jump Sasquatch backward me swami refrigerator." Not much to kill yourself over or feel any emotion over, really.

It seems obvious to me, but your feeling toward life has nothing to do with faux-philosophical ideas. Your attitude toward life has a physical basis in your brain.

If you ask the question why enough, you inevitably ask "Why am I asking why?"

It's a bit of recursive question, just like trying to prove yourself rational. To prove yourself rational, you first have to assume you are rational enough to prove anything. But then you didn't prove you were rational, you assumed it.

It's the same with asking why over and over again. It loops back into itself. This means that whatever feeling you harbor toward life is only superficially related to your rationalizing it.

This is consistent with experimental findings. In the 1980s, a paper titled "Unconscious cerebral initiative and the role of conscious will in voluntary action" was published by Benjamin Libet. It was found it is possible to visualize a decision in the brain a little over a third of a second before the subjects where even consciously aware of having made a decision.

Just in the past couples months, another article was published (in Science, I think) on volition. In brain surgery patients, neuroscientists applied electrical shocks to the parietal cortex and induced the desire to do things like wet their lips.

It's not hard to imagine that a person wanting to kill themselves is only superficially wanting to do so for "rational" reasons. Horrible events happen to many people, yet not all of these people want to kill themselves because of those events. Again, this is consistent with the idea that your brain chemistry is the source of your attitude toward life.

If you want to know more, there is a biologist named Lewis Wolpert that wrote a really good book on depression titled "Malignant Sadness." In my opinion, it is one of the better accounts of what depression really is. Unless you have really felt what it is like to be clinically depressed, I don't think you are really in any position to counsel people that are harboring suicidal thoughts because of it.

EDIT: I just read over this, and it is a bit scatter-brained. I'm not going to bother re-writing it for coherency, though.
 

Beat Mango

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#25
i've contemplated suicide quite a bit, and then i began thinking "wouldn't it be wonderful if i got a brain tumor?" i could just imagine myself cracking jokes about it (of course my tumor is always on my mind) and making other people uncomfortable about it. thats when i realized, for me at least, that the thoughts of suicide are nothing but self indulgence. i've always imagined what everyone would think when they heard i was dead, and the idea of people feeling sorry for me was comforting.
The emotion I feel most often and most strongly is self-pity.
 

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#26
Saying life is meaningless doesn't make any sense.

If you accept that life is meaningless, then by extension everything you do and say is meaningless. So saying life is meaningless doesn't mean anything at all.
Spot on, but don't stop there.

It seems obvious to me, but your feeling toward life has nothing to do with faux-philosophical ideas. Your attitude toward life has a physical basis in your brain.
So you're saying that all depression results from a chemical imbalance as the base cause? Depression can be a result of many factors, biological, sociological, and psychological. Yes, depression can be caused by a chemical imbalance, but I don't think that's what was being discussed.. existential crises/depression most often have much different causes from my experience, though they certainly can be influenced by (and influence) the chemicals in your brain.
 

snowqueen

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#27
If you want to know more, there is a biologist named Lewis Wolpert that wrote a really good book on depression titled "Malignant Sadness." In my opinion, it is one of the better accounts of what depression really is. Unless you have really felt what it is like to be clinically depressed, I don't think you are really in any position to counsel people that are harboring suicidal thoughts because of it.
I liked the philosophical debate on meaningless in your post, but I have to take a stance on this ^

While neuroscience is a very useful addition to our understanding of depression and other mental phenomena, brain chemistry is most certainly not the only reason for depression and it is by no means certain that it is implicated as a cause. There is a great need in psychiatry to find the aetiology of mental illnesses in the same way that they exist in physical medicine - it's been one of the great embarrassments of psychiatry that they cannot 'prove' the existence of illness pathways. Neuroscience and brain imaging is being used as the big hope currently but actually it is impossible to prove there is a direct causal link. I have written about the causes of depression and how that may relate to INTP elsewhere so won't go into it here in depth.

I would also strongly contest the idea that you cannot help people with depression unless you have experienced it yourself! This is a dangerous view which contributes the fact that many people with depression think no one can help them and generally that their situation is hopeless. Yes, there are lots of crap psychiatrists and counsellors but that's not because people with depression can't be helped but because no profession can recruit enough of the top people for statistical reasons! (think bell curve if you don't know what I mean)

I have been miserable and despairing but I've not really ever had depression but I have definitely helped lots of people overcome their depression and I have saved the lives of people who thought suicide was the best option. I have sat with people in their darkest moments of despair and at that point you have to hold hope for them because they have lost sight of it. If I seem too quick to make suggestions it's because I take this stuff very seriously and while I suspect for most people these discussions are mainly interesting rather than therapeutic, if there is one lurker or contributor who is seriously considering suicide I simply have to ensure there is something practical for them to take away. I know these methods work.

I think these discussions here are really good - at least INTPs are talking about this stuff openly and I am sure that is really helpful for anyone reading - there are so many different thoughts here that a person will surely find one that helps them - the philosophical discussions are just as important as the practical ones. But please do not imagine that depression cannot be overcome. More people recover than stay depressed.
 
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#28
I've been through a horrible existential crisis and out; It's stupid.

Depression or depressive thoughts are addictive. They're like a shell you get into to avoid action or responsibility. The shell, though painful, is comfortable and hence easy to get into. Here's my advice on how to deal with it:

1. Seek your loved ones, especially parents. They understand you more than you think, and will help you in ways nobody else ever can. If not parents, seek friends or make new ones. Share your pain.

2. Meaninglessness is a somewhat recursive idea. You exist. Hence you cannot be meaningless. You've got hormones, and you've got glands. That is meaning in itself. Go get sexy. Build your physique.

3. I for one know that regular exercise and physical fitness is very essential for your stability. If nothing, begin with Yoga. It's brilliant, and involves all aspects of the mind. You'll have to devote yourself completely to do it right. It automatically draws you out of your shell.
 

Agent Intellect

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#29
The emotion I feel most often and most strongly is self-pity.
Depression or depressive thoughts are addictive. They're like a shell you get into to avoid action or responsibility. The shell, though painful, is comfortable and hence easy to get into.
thats basically what i'm saying. self pity is self indulgent, and it becomes habit.

If you accept that life is meaningless, then by extension everything you do and say is meaningless. So saying life is meaningless doesn't mean anything at all.

It is the equivalent of saying "Periwinkle jump Sasquatch backward me swami refrigerator." Not much to kill yourself over or feel any emotion over, really.
you seem to be mistaking 'meaningless' with 'nonsense'. i think when people talk about meaninglessness, its more like purposeless and/or insignificance. these aren't necessarily rational thoughts, as even people that believe in a higher meaning can feel a sense of meaninglessness.what i say and do means something in that it affects those around me, but ultimately it has no purpose and its leading up to nothing.

While neuroscience is a very useful addition to our understanding of depression and other mental phenomena, brain chemistry is most certainly not the only reason for depression and it is by no means certain that it is implicated as a cause.
aren't depression medications used to correct (or patch, i suppose) the underlying neural problems of depression? i guess the real question though, is: does brain chemistry cause depression or does depression change our brain chemistry? i guess i just find it strange that, despite being able to rationalize my own depression, to know that theres no reason for it, it doesn't go away. i don't think theres anything a psychiatrist could tell me that i haven't told myself in my own head. it seems deeper then simply just feeling a little blue.
 

Artifice Orisit

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#30
Okay people we have a thread for depression, in fact there are several, this is not about depression, granted though depression can be the result.

This thread is about having an Existential Crisis, not about being clinically unhappy.
It's about objectifying morality to the point that it doesn’t seem relevant anymore.
It's about questioning the very values that motivate you, what is success really?
It's about realising just how insignificant we really are in this unimaginably vast universe.

I'm not depressed, I'm wondering if the loss of mental continuity between when I fall asleep tonight and when I wake up in the morning means that the part of me that is essentially me (my consciousness) dies every time I go to sleep. Shoot me up with dopamine all you want, it's not going to change the fact that I'm losing my very sanity here... though it’s not an entirely unpleasant experience once you get over the thoughts of "I'm going to die one day and there's nothing I can do to change that fact".

I created this thread so that people could share their thoughts and take comfort in knowing that they're not totally outnumbered by the insane masses of gratification seeking monkey-people, well not totally alone at least.

2. Meaninglessness is a somewhat recursive idea. You exist. Hence you cannot be meaningless. You've got hormones, and you've got glands. That is meaning in itself. Go get sexy. Build your physique.
Yes, get in touch with the inner monkey.
The way of the monkey, it the way of happiness.
 
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#31
The end result of an existential crisis is that you end up staring out into a 'nothingness'. The are no great answers to why you are here, but you are here. There is no great purpose to pursue, no ultimate goal, no grand plan. There is no afterlife that you know of because an after life is just that... after life.
So what you have here is life, this life, with no reason why you were thrown into it or why it's so short or how come you got stuck with the body you've got or the parents you got or anything else. The only thing you know for sure is that you are here. The only question you need to answer is what are you going to do with this 'you are here'.
After you've stared at this nothingness for a while, you realise two things. One, this existential questioning is going to emerge for everything you do. Two, you have complete freedom to choose to do what you want. You want to be a doctor, be a doctor. You want to study chaos magick, study chaos magick. You want to travel the world, travel the world. You are responsible for your own life. Do what you want with it.
The existential crisis, after the realisation that you are 'condemned to freedom', then engenders the questions of how does one choose 'what to do' and 'how does one know what to choose'. The inscription above in the forecourt of Temple of Apollo at Delphi was "Know Thyself".
And that means what?
The great thing about being human is that we are all born different. Look at your preferences and qualities. What colour do you like? How tall are you? What attracts your attention? What books and subject matter attracts you? Asking simple questions like these will help you answer bigger questions. And there are no 'right' answers except the ones which are right for you. It's all about being authentic, and being authentic to no one but your self.
If who you find yourself drawn to chemistry, study chemistry, but half-way through studying chemistry there is a pull to study physics, then do that, because studying chemistry may have only been a way for you to find the deeper self-meaning that you truly prefer physics. And if you are going to be a physicist, be a physicist. Be an authentic physicist.
If you feel your self being pulled to believe in God and Jesus, then believe in God and Jesus. It is no one else's choice but yours. It is neither right nor wrong, it is merely what is you. So, be a Christian. Be an authentic Christian. Or an authentic Buddhist. Or an authentic Atheist. It doesn't matter what anyone else believes in, it is what you believe in which counts for your life because it is your life and you are the only one living your life, without any purpose or reason except the ones you choose.
And that's where responsibility come in. If you make your own choices, then you make your own consequences. That is what it means to be 'condemned to freedom'. You will never ever be completely sure that what you have chosen is 'the right way' because Existence offers no 'right way'. There is no absolute outside agency or 'markers' to compare your choices to which will confirm your decisions. The only 'right way' for your life is the way - or ways - you choose.
Obviously, there is more to this that just this, but this is the beginning.
 

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#32
2. Meaninglessness is a somewhat recursive idea. You exist. Hence you cannot be meaningless. You've got hormones, and you've got glands. That is meaning in itself. Go get sexy. Build your physique.

3. I for one know that regular exercise and physical fitness is very essential for your stability. If nothing, begin with Yoga. It's brilliant, and involves all aspects of the mind. You'll have to devote yourself completely to do it right. It automatically draws you out of your shell.
I can't remember ever being out of shape in my life, hence, my physical fitness doesn't seem to be linked to my existential stability. I'm not saying that it can't be a benefit, but I don't really know. I ride the STP (seattle to portland bike ride) every year and often go camping and hiking, I lift weights regularly, and most of the work I do is very physical. By not being "out of shape" I mean that my physical fitness has never stopped me from doing anything I want to do, even if that is climbing a mountain.
 

Agent Intellect

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#33
i often find it strange that i will never experience anything from any other point of view besides my own, and that my consciousness is nothing but 10 billion neurons either sending signals, or not signals (much like binary code). it makes me wonder if i really am conscious, or if awareness is simply a symptom of higher intelligence.

i wonder why i am aware of things now instead of ten minutes ago, or ten years ago, or twenty years into the future. why now? is future or past me self aware? if i went back and met them, would they essentially be different people then the 'me' now? are the people around me aware of this particular time, or is their consciousness experiencing ten minutes from now, and i am merely interacting with how they reacted to me when i wasn't aware yet?

i can almost convince myself i'm insane with my own doubts. i've wondered if people around me actually exist, or if they are my Tyler Durden. i've actually thought so deeply that i've convinced myself that someone is in the room with me when i'm alone. i often question things i've done no more then a minute ago (i just had something to eat, didn't i? i remembered to flush the toilet, right? i shut my computer off before walking out the door, right?) and even if i can specifically remember doing it, i'll convince myself that i might not have, and it forces me to re-check.

i always have to wonder how the universe looks from difference sizes. if i were the size of a million galaxies and i studied physics, would i come up with the same formulas that we have now? if i were the size of a few atoms, would i be able to perceive or understand newtonian physics?

i don't know if i'm worried about insignificance as much as i am about extreme limitations: of my perspective, my reasoning, my knowledge, my ability to see and experience anything outside this planet, this body/mind, this time. i'll never get to know what my favorite song sounds like in Venus' atmosphere, i'll never know what gamma rays look like without translating them into colors i can actually see, i'll never know what it smells like at proxima centuri, i'll never be able to see the universe through the eyes of another human (or animal), and i won't ever know what becomes of the world 100, 1000, 10000 etc years from now (nor will i get to experience anything 100 or 1000 years ago).

is that enough craziness to make you feel like you're not alone?
 

snowqueen

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#34
I think about the fact that when you look out at deep space what you see is the past because of the speed of light. It makes me wonder if I was at another point in space looking at earth I could see my father still alive. Then I think that this means that time is meaningless and we are all being at the same time as the dead and those to be born.

There is a Tibetan Buddhist set of practices where for the first month you relate to the world as if everything is real. The next month you relate to the world as if everything is emptiness. Finally you relate to the world as if everything is real and emptiness at the same time. I did this practice and it was amazing - a bit like Android said - eventually it all just becomes beautiful.
 
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#35
The problem of an existentialist crisis is that one seeks a meaning for one's life, for a meaning for existence, any existence. There is none, but there is an aspect of being human which is overlooked. We are sentient beings and one quality of being a sentient being is that one can create order out of chaos, can create meaning, reason and purpose out of nothing. Sentient beings impose an order on chaos, whether it be the movements of planets, suns and galaxies or the planting of a garden - an order is imposed.
Sentient beings are the imposers of order, reason and purpose into, and onto, the natural state of chaos existence is. Sentient beings are the antithesis of existence which arises from existence. Sentient beings are the paradox of existence. Sentience is the antithesis of existence.

It matters not whether an order imposed by a sentient being is 'right' or 'wrong' or whether an order is 'good' or 'bad', because these qualities of judgment do not exist in the universe and are, as well, subjectively created and imposed by sentient beings. It matters not whether an imposed order is fleeting or not; that an order has been imposed, even for a split second, is an acknowledgement by the sentient being of its own existence. The reason or purpose for imposing an order upon existence matters not, except to the one imposing the order, for imposing this order is to attempt to communicate to one's self, and subsequently to others, one's individual sense of order - one's individual perception of existence.

The ultimate expression of sentience is art. Art is the individual free imposition of order upon existence with the only purpose being the expressing an individual perception of order out of chaos and into chaos. Art does not seek to explain, only to communicate. Music is the ordering of noise. Sculpture is the ordering of space and material. Dance is the ordering of movement.
 

Beat Mango

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#39
The problem of an existentialist crisis is that one seeks a meaning for one's life, for a meaning for existence, any existence. There is none, but there is an aspect of being human which is overlooked. We are sentient beings and one quality of being a sentient being is that one can create order out of chaos, can create meaning, reason and purpose out of nothing. Sentient beings impose an order on chaos, whether it be the movements of planets, suns and galaxies or the planting of a garden - an order is imposed.
Sentient beings are the imposers of order, reason and purpose into, and onto, the natural state of chaos existence is. Sentient beings are the antithesis of existence which arises from existence. Sentient beings are the paradox of existence. Sentience is the antithesis of existence.

It matters not whether an order imposed by a sentient being is 'right' or 'wrong' or whether an order is 'good' or 'bad', because these qualities of judgment do not exist in the universe and are, as well, subjectively created and imposed by sentient beings. It matters not whether an imposed order is fleeting or not; that an order has been imposed, even for a split second, is an acknowledgement by the sentient being of its own existence. The reason or purpose for imposing an order upon existence matters not, except to the one imposing the order, for imposing this order is to attempt to communicate to one's self, and subsequently to others, one's individual sense of order - one's individual perception of existence.

The ultimate expression of sentience is art. Art is the individual free imposition of order upon existence with the only purpose being the expressing an individual perception of order out of chaos and into chaos. Art does not seek to explain, only to communicate. Music is the ordering of noise. Sculpture is the ordering of space and material. Dance is the ordering of movement.
This is why I think care is so important. If you care about something, you give it meaning in the sense you describe, in the sense that you are a sentient being with interests and motivations. But you can't choose to care about something, imo, it's an unconscious process, however you might be able to convince yourself not to care (then again, pushing my body to its limits in the form of exercise does force me to care because it gets me in touch with my body. I feel more alive in these moments - maybe it's just masochism ha)
 

Adaire

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#40
In fact I've already pretty much decided that I won't let anyone or anything take my life other than me. I guess I have that much of an ego :D
I'm much the same way. If I have to die, I want to do so in the manner of my own choosing. It probably stems from a desire for freedom and control over one's own fate. We have no power over the circumstances we are born into and we have limited control over our own lives. Death itself is inevitable; but perhaps by choosing it ourselves it gives us some sad illusion of choice.


This just popped into my head.. but couldn't most existential crises be defined along the lines of a conflict with the Will to Power? In a realization that extrinsic power is meaningless, life loses it's shine. I think my solution has been to project that will inward in an attempt to be a master of myself. Power over oneself, at least to me, seems like a worthy goal even under the blank stare of an unknowing universe. Power over oneself to me means power over one's subconscious/unconscious mind as well, and freedom from species-centric strains of thought, etc.
Agreed. Mastery over oneself is a trait few can honestly claim. It's so easy for humans to lose sight of their identities and ambitions in favor of consumerism, religion, societal acceptance and even self-pity. I cannot claim this trait; but I'm trying to move toward it. I want to overcome my baser natures and free myself from petty distractions and unwarranted fears.

i often find it strange that i will never experience anything from any other point of view besides my own.
I think this all the time. We all have such limited perspectives; how can we assess the viability our own if we can't access from an unbiased viewpoint? That is why the idea of reincarnation always bugged me. If I went through all the trouble to live as someone else shouldn't I at least be able to learn and build upon that experience?



Now to actually address the OP. I actually went though an existentialist crisis while I was still a devoted Christian. I was always told that 'God had a special plan and purpose for me.' When I tried to evaluate that purpose it was very disturbing to me. The only purposes that God could have possibly had for me was either to attract more followers or to glorify him. My only reason for existence was to soothe the ego of some cosmic jerk. Soon after I began to doubt the morality and rationality of Christianity and the Bible. I've been a Atheist ever since.

This forum has actually helped me regard life in a far more positive view than before. Life is inherently meaningless. Our lives will end (extended or not) and we will be forgotten. Though somewhat depressing; it's a far better fate than being the bitch to some God(or devil) for all eternity imo. However we also have the freedom to choose our own purpose and to be our own masters. To me thats invaluable.
 

snowqueen

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#41
Now to actually address the OP. I actually went though an existentialist crisis while I was still a devoted Christian. I was always told that 'God had a special plan and purpose for me.' When I tried to evaluate that purpose it was very disturbing to me. The only purposes that God could have possibly had for me was either to attract more followers or to glorify him. My only reason for existence was to sooth the ego of some cosmic jerk. Soon after I began to doubt the morality and rationality of Christianity and the Bible. I've been a Atheist ever since.
Yes - I often ask evangelists why God is so weak he can't cope with people not worshipping him. My other question is 'so God is just a big accountant then?'

Although I've never been a Christian I have studied it and the thing that I found particularly offensive was the notion that you were damned unless you believed in God/Jesus. It's basically a protection racket and it occurred to me that it's not a coincidence that the mafia come from Italy - pay me (worship me) or I'll trash your shop (damn you).

Having said all that I do like a lot of Jesus's teachings, but they are not that original - love and treat others as you would yourself is simply a version of the Buddhist notion of interconnectedness and karma.

This forum has actually helped me regard life in a far more positive view than before. Life is inherently meaningless. Our lives will end (extended or not) and we will be forgotten. Though somewhat depressing; it's a far better fate than being the bitch to some God(or devil) for all eternity imo. However we also have the freedom to choose our own purpose and to be our own masters. To me thats invaluable.
I agree. There are plenty of ways to find meaning in this world - there is so much that needs to be done - protecting the environment, feeding everyone, getting clean water to everyone, peacemaking, helping poor, sick and needy people etc etc. Anyone who wonders whether life can be meaningful should go and join a volunteer program. Thinking life cannot be meaningful shows a ridiculous lack of imagination.
 

Agent Intellect

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#42
a small essay i wrote a while back that pertains somewhat to this thread:

Existence might be meaningless, but one thing people don’t seem to realize, is that its essentially nonsense. We like to put things into nice, neat little categories; we can’t help but find patterns, follow logical paths that allow us to make deductions and see causes and effects, create order out of chaos, but this is simply a trick of our minds. Its what we have earned from our large brains.

But this is not the case. The universe doesn’t work this way just because we want it to, but it’s impossible to operate without the ability to manipulate reality in our own minds. Reality is the truth, and lies are our way of attempting to change reality, whether its lies to others, to ourselves, or simply accepting ignorance as good enough.

I’ve always wondered, what constitutes intelligence? The ability to create patterns out of disorder more efficiently then others? Just because we can group arbitrary nothingness into something we perceive of as having meaning means that we are intellectually superior to those that can still see things for the disarray they really are?

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of insanity. Crazy people don’t see the world the way other people do. Of course, this is assuming that there’s some sort of standard that human mental health can go by. They say that repeatedly doing something over and over while expecting different results is a sign of insanity. Perhaps the fact that we all draw breath over and over, thinking we won’t some day perish, is an indication of madness that everyone exhibits.

It’s funny how life can play out sometimes. Spiritual people would call it the will of some sort of God, deity, or ancestor. Atheists would call it luck. Either way, people chalk it up to some sort of higher power; some sort of meta-rule that controls the events that happen in our lives. We all have a tendency to relinquish control to some sort of higher power. Some of us thank God when a relative pulls through a terrible illness or injury, while others thank goodness. It would be quite crazy for us to thank the void, and disrespectful not to feel any sort of gratitude at all.


"On a long enough time line, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero"
 

sheepie

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#43
When you become detached enough, everything becomes beautiful. For me, the lack of purpose or meaning is the most beautiful thing of all. There's no reason life needs to exist, but it does anyways - I find that amazing, inspiring, and beautiful. At least that is the conclusion I'm sitting on in the midst of a cyclical existential crisis that has gone on since I was 12 years old or so.
Wow, thats pretty much me, but expressed much more coherently than I could ever achieve.

I actually recently escaped all this by acknowledging my irrelevance and accepting I am here and that reality just is, because other wise I cast doubt on the actual existence and nature of space and time and it makes me anxious.
 
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#45
A few weeks ago I was dragged to a wilderness program in Northern California. The experience was really annoying and I tried several times to get kicked out. Somewhere in the middle of the wilderness, carrying a thirty pound backpack helped me realize I just have to get through it. A mere eighteen days ended/perspectivized a crisis that has plagued me since the 7th grade.
 

Beat Mango

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#46
I just remembered a good line from the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, we read it in high school and I'd recommend it for anyone with existential questions. The line was from the Player and it stuck with me, he says it in response to the existentially angsty Rosencrantz and Guildenstern:

Relax. Respond. That's what people do.
 
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#47
I just remembered a good line from the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead, we read it in high school and I'd recommend it for anyone with existential questions. The line was from the Player and it stuck with me, he says it in response to the existentially angsty Rosencrantz and Guildenstern:

Relax. Respond. That's what people do.
The play was made into a movie of the same name awhile back (early 90s).. Tim Roth and Gary Oldman are great in it. One of my favorites.

A few weeks ago I was dragged to a wilderness program in Northern California. The experience was really annoying and I tried several times to get kicked out. Somewhere in the middle of the wilderness, carrying a thirty pound backpack helped me realize I just have to get through it. A mere eighteen days ended/perspectivized a crisis that has plagued me since the 7th grade.
Sounds like heaven to me.. as long as there aren't many people. Nature always helps ground me.. especially after long spells of wandering identical sidewalks. I'm actually going to be on a hunting trip in eastern Oregon in a month or so.. about 30 miles from the nearest town (if you want to call it a town) and a day+ walk to the nearest house.. alone, and completely reliant on me. Experiences like that are what I look forward to more than anything.
 
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#48
Existing is a bitch. I really don't enjoy existing. I don't enjoy existing because I'm both so bad and so good at the same tasks. I attribute my very varied aptitude to being twice exceptional (stupid and smart or learning disabled and gifted). My deviant aptitudes make me very frustrated with who I am. Why shouldn't I be agree.

What say you?
 
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#49
I'm new to this forum so maybe I am not doing it right. But, I am currently going through an existential crisis/having existential anxiety as well.
I know that these things are not the cause of my issues, I know I am not having anxiety because I am worried about my imminent death or because I can't seem to convince myself that my thoughts are my own or that I am actually here connected to my body. When it gets really bad, I try to ask myself "What are you really worried about?" and the answer is usually the first thought that pops into my head. I also think it is important to remember, that our thoughts are just thoughts, they certainly can't change anything or complete any task just in themselves. Our actions are what create results and make significance in our lives, our thoughts are only their to guide us. There is always a reason for anxiety, it is better not to fight it and to ask yourself what can I change or else you may never find the answer and you may always be stuck in the "hole" in your head. That's what I call it. Also, I really like this little guy :storks:
 
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