Before talking about existential anxiety, one concept named existentialism need to be explored. I am not going to explain “what is existentialism” in detail because it is a complex concept in philosophy; you may fall asleep if I start reciting philosophical theory. However, having a rough understanding this concept help us with understanding existential anxiety.
Let’s get started!
What Is Existentialism?
“A philosophical theory or approach which emphasises the existence of the individual person as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will.”
In other words, individual’s behaviour is determined by his/her own will, which can be translated into a few questions: What’s my purpose? What do I want? Why am I here? Who am I supposed to be?
The long time ago, existential anxiety referred to a relationship with God; how do we live in a way that God would want, eventually it becomes inclusive of substantial life question; such as, career, study, marriage and so on.
Take a look following questions.
What’s my purpose? Why am I here?
What do I want? What is my purpose in life?
Who am I supposed to be?
These questions can cause a healthy amount of anxiety. In other words, people ask themselves these questions at some stage of life. For example, when you choose a university degree, then find out it is not your favourite.
As I said, existential anxiety is not considered as a mental problem, so there is not a specific treatment for it. However, if this anxiety becomes a problem, it would be an anxiety disorder.
Most importantly, you may be aware of it anyway, you don’t only focus on past, but also the future.