If you have gotten this far you probably can relate to existential anxiety and are wondering how to better deal with it. I have included a few ideas specific to each of the givens (realities) of life in each of the previous posts. This post will discuss broad and general responses to existential angst.
I am going to suggest that there are 5 basic ways what we deal with existential angst. I am not suggesting any is better or worse than the other, and I am not proposing that you must pick one and then everything will be better. Life really doesn't work that way. This is more of a discussion to get you to think about how you respond to the hard questions of life and maybe give you ideas on healthier ways to face some of the givens of life. As a reminder, the givens of life are death, loneliness, freedom, responsibility, and the apparent meaninglessness of life.
Responses to existential angst.
1. Ignorance- I love Allan Watts' pronunciation of ignorance. He calls it 'ignore'-ance. It's what we do when we actively choose to ignore something. Ignorance in today's age usually refers to unintentional lack of knowing . An ignorant person is seen as unintelligent and stupid. I believe ignorance is probably more intentional than we let on. By ignoring the question you may be able to relieve your anxiety. Whenever the thoughts of meaning or death come up, tell yourself to not think about it. This may seem hard for most people, but i have met people who simply tell me that they don't think about these things. I'm guessing they may be distracted or devoted (more on these later) enough to not have to think about it, but it is possible that some people simple choose to ignore the questions all together. If you are reading this then you will probably not be great at doing this or think there is a better option. Ignorance is bliss?
Anxiety can be a crippling thing to deal with. Intense heart rate, difficulty breathing, obsessive thoughts, aching muscles, dizziness, headache, feeling 'fuzzy', and pain in the chest is not comfortable or easy to put up with. Often, we want to fight it and 'make it feel better'. This article does a good job of explaining how that may not work and gives us a different approach to working with anxiety. Of course, if your anxiety is very intense or you have reason to believe you have a medical condition, you should go to a doctor to see if medication or other factors need to be considered.