Is This How You Spell Existential Crises?

Just looking at that word – crises – I’m in a panic. Not because of any event, but because it looks so very wrong.

Words. Spelling of words. Appearances. All things I’m no ducky about.  All things I need a macintosh for because they aren’t sliding off my back on their own.

To shed some light into my insight into brain gymnastics, it should be shared that I’m a trained mental health counselor. Education, experience and personal insight. Too well, I understand the acrobatics the mind can perform.

So how does this lead to my routine existential crises? (I’m going to keep writing that word until it becomes more normalized. Doesn’t it just look weird?) It goes back to the shoulds of yesterday.

What should I be doing?

I’m not saying this is the case for all introverts, only this one. Creativity, introversion, ability, guilt, insecurity and shoulds roil around in a tiny internal cauldron sending out paralyzing fumes. Fumes that twist and twine around the parts of the brain that define the self and the parts that instigate action.

There is a reason people set out with enthusiasm and hope and end up in bed under the covers. The existential crises. The inability to function in the world laid out before them.

So, the next logical step is to create their own world, one where they define their existence. Seems like a plan, doesn’t it? But existential crises constantly question – why am I here – what am I supposed to be doing – how am I supposed to do it  – and on and on.

It’s like being asked to design your own personal Eden. Seems like a dream, right? Not so much.

We all need boundaries. My object lesson in this happened when I was a teacher for an outdoor education center in my twenties. I watched the director set clear expectations for the children and saw the most rebellious child relax into the frame. Like lanes in a bowling alley, boundaries set the path. Like a warm hug from a parent, boundaries make us feel safe.

Life is better with boundaries.

That’s why jobs and school are soothing to an anxious mind. (They really are, more than it seems when you’re in it) We all need direction and boundaries.

Freedom from anyone’s control seems the pinnacle, but if you achieve it, then what? Now, you are the master of your fate, you must set the course or flounder about in a sea of overwhelming opportunities.

Which leads back to the existential questions – why am I here – what am I supposed to be doing – how am I supposed to do it…

The answers fluctuate with time of life, state of mind, availability of courage, belief in the self, level of external expectations. I’ve come to terms with knowing I will probably never be free of these crises.

After all, even Snoopy asked the questions.

Thou Shalt Not Should On Thyself

I recently had minor surgery and I’m off work. No real pain or discomfort. Should be a jolly time of Hallmark movies, Law and Order episodes, reading and resting.

But…

The brain that is wired to the guilt string never lets there be peace for long.

Oh the ‘shoulds’ that undermine happiness.

I should be reading

I should be writing

I should be making my presence known on social media

I should have a brand, followers.

I should have a platform

I should be focused and not emotionally invested in twelve projects at any one time.

I should be focused on healthy living

I should be volunteering

I should be, should be, should be…

Happy

I should be happy.

I should be happy, for the only thing that lies in my way is my own manufactured angst.

Don’t misunderstand me, angst is angst, manufactured or created by circumstances. There’s just more guilt in manufactured angst – I should be able to control it.

I have been introspective all of my life. I just can’t let pesky thoughts and feelings alone. Like a scab that must be picked. I just can’t let myself be happy.

But for the rest of today, I am going to pick a direction and go with it. I am going to fight the shoulds and focus on the random beauty about me and the small joys. I am going to be curious about the future and find things to look forward to.

I hope your day is should-free and curiosity piques your mind.

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