An Existential Crisis Can Actually Enhance Your Life

Your mind and emotions are in crisis. It feels like your inner world is falling apart. “How could any sane person think this is an enhancement?” You might be wondering.

It’s a question that deserves an honest and satisfying answer, so let’s dig deeper.

Photo by Victoria Palacios on Unsplash

Your deepest sense of meaning is under attack. Weird, uncomfortable thoughts, emotions and sensations run through you, and it feels like they are systematically consuming you.

It’s an existential crisis. It’s not a pleasant experience, and it happens to more of us than you might suspect – especially those of us who are naturally sensitive. Mostly it’s hidden away, because people don’t like to admit that they’re slowly drowning inside.

All kinds of questions keep surfacing: What does it all mean? What’s the point? Why do I feel this way? What’s wrong with me? Am I having a breakdown? Should I end it all? What’s really going on?

It could be triggered by trauma, abuse, or the loss of a loved one. It could be financial stress or disillusionment at work. It might be because you’ve suddenly woken up to the fact that you’re growing older. Most often it happens when you’re forced to confront the meaning of life and death, for one reason or another.

All of a sudden, your old world-view just doesn’t seem quite right anymore. Something is obviously wrong – but it’s hard to pinpoint. Everything seems confusing, depressing, meaningless, and empty. People on the street seem like cardboard cut-outs: Fake, happy, and blind; and you’re standing outside, alone. It feels like you’re the only one who can see through all the lies.

Theories and philosophies don’t work. Clichés like “every cloud has a silver lining” just make things worse. Religion might seem tempting, but it’s difficult to stomach the idea of blind faith. You want something real. Prescription medication, alcohol or drugs might help suppress the symptoms, but they do little or nothing to treat the cause.

Sometimes the crisis goes on for a painfully long time, coming in waves, and receding, only to come back again.

What’s life-enhancing about any of that?

You’ve Probably Never Been so Honest Before

All clichés and glib generalizations aside, this is most likely the only time you’ve confronted some of the big questions of life in an authentic way – not in theory. You’re looking for an answer that rings true in the deepest part of you, and finding nothing solid, your mind is now in turmoil. You’re searching for something, sensing that you’re divided.

It’s hard to accept the idea right now, but that bone-deep honesty is actually your biggest asset.

That same honesty is the only foundation upon which you can build a meaningful framework for a new, more honest, and more enlightened view of the world – and one that’s free from sentimentality, pessimism, hopelessness and depression in the long-term.

Honesty is the Beginning of True Wisdom

Take courage, you’re not the first person to realize the truth.

Others have reached the same conclusions: Everything is temporary, and much of what we believe about life is illusory. Most of our theories are pointless. The Buddha, for example, had a kind of existential crisis too, and it led him to enlightenment – a way out – a much better exit strategy than suicide, or escapism.

Sincere and sensitive people from all walks of life and from widely different cultures, religions, and ideologies have come to similar conclusions – of course, each of them express it in their own way. If you’re able to look past the differences in approach, or terminology, you’ll see they all point in the same direction.

The pathway to the real solution starts with honesty – those soul-searching questions: Who am I? What’s really going on here?

Where does that pathway lead, though?

Your Horizons are Stretching

That question is more difficult to answer in plain language, because the pathway leads inwards. It leads to a place that’s hard to describe using words, and theories. It’s also perfectly natural – it’s your Natural State of Mind.

It’s a new dimension in your life, and one that stretches your power of reason to its limit. Ultimately, only you can answer it on the deepest, clearest, most honest level.

If you’re experiencing an existential crisis, then right now there’s probably a thick cloud of confusion in your mind. At the same time, your horizons are stretching.  You’re more open to new ways of looking at things, and finding new kinds of answers.

Perhaps you’re coming to understand what’s wrong with your old belief system. Your mind is open to new possibilities. Use this golden opportunity, don’t let it slip by.

You’re Developing Self-Knowledge

Self-knowledge is more useful than any other kind of knowledge or any higher education. It transcends facts, without dodging them, and it even transcends theories and beliefs. It is the true esoteric science we all sense, deep down. It’s the science of living well, in our hearts and minds.

There is a subtle intelligence in each one of us. It’s that part of us that knowsthings, without us being able to explain how we know. It’s our ‘gut feeling.’ It’s perfectly natural and intuitive, but so often misinterpreted by the intellect.

The honesty of self-knowledge leads to the realization that we know far less than we pretend to. It can also provide the courage to keep learning, no matter what we might find. It’s part science, part art.

It sounds like one of those terribly annoying spiritual platitudes. “The answers are all within.”

If you can put aside your usual unwillingness to look, while still maintaining a healthy dose of scepticism, and honestly try to see it for yourself, you might be surprised at what you find.  What have you got to lose? At worst, you’ll end up back where you started.

Those answers that ring true – the ones you can feel hitting home somewhere inside – will lead you to find your own truth, on your own terms. It takes a little bit of effort to seek them out, but it’s worth all the strength you can muster.

It’s a torturous process, I will admit it, without sugar-coating anything. It’s not easy to push right through the centre of the pain and confusion.

Once you make it through, however, there’s something new and different about you. You’re more mature, more compassionate, and more in touch with reality and sanity than you were before.

You might come to discover, as others have, that there’s a rich and rewarding science underneath all of it. True Esoteric masters throughout recorded history have pointed the way, but it’s up to us to follow, and to test everything with our rational minds, and our hearts, accepting nothing at face-value.

If you’re persistent, you can discover a state of mind that’s free from crisis, fear, and disillusionment, and a way to maintain it. People like me can point to it, and write about it, in the hopes that you’ll find some synchronicity in what we say.

I can’t promise that you’ll find it. Nobody can give it to you, even if they say they can.

I can only invite you to keep searching, and encourage you not to give up hope. Your real essence is free from fear and confusion. Keep digging until you find it. Read widely, and examine everything carefully. Think honestly and carefully, and don’t avoid the pain.

That pain will etch the answers you find so deeply into you, that you’ll never forget the lesson. It can enhance your life.