A Simple Thought Exercise for Existential Anxiety

Jordan Brown

Read Time: 2 minutes, 43 seconds

When there is a major break in routine, when the world seems to be falling apart, it's easy to question your very existence.

Does anything really matter?

What's the point of all of this?

I know I feel this kind of existential angst on a good day. But recently? It's been on overdrive.

I have something to tell you.

During difficult times, not only do things matter, they matter more than you think. Here's a way to get to the heart of what matters.

A Deep Dive into the Mind

This is a turning point. Stuck at home with very little to do, the Coronavirus lockdown is forcing many people to be introspective for the first time. And while this can be jarring for some, ultimately,  I think it will be a good thing.

When you're stuck with your thoughts, you're forced to consider who you are. This can easily turn into ruminating and self-doubt, but it can also go the other way, toward something positive and uplifting.

How Can You Use Alone Time in a Positive Way? Here's an Effective Strategy

There are a number of actions you can take, but let's focus on the creme de la creme (My apologies to people who know French.)

Alone time can be a great time for questions. Have you ever heard of the 5 Whys? It's an exercise that you can use to help you get to the root cause of what is going on. It's used as much in the business world as it is in the world of philosophy/professional thinking.

Say you're feeling really anxious about your current situation. Ask yourself why. Well, it's because you are stuck at home and you don't like that. But why is that bothering you? Well, because you have to share your space and time with other people and normally you get to be off on your own. Why is that frustrating? Well, it's because you grew up in a crowded household and you never had any personal space, so you devised coping strategies over the years to assist you. Why? You realized at an early age that you're really sensitive and your energy is drained if you don't have your personal space.

At this point, you're probably getting close to the root cause. Maybe you don't need to ask "why" anymore. But let's do it one more time just for giggles. Why is your energy drained? Because you are a person who gives your all to every single interaction. You can't turn it off.

Aha! This might be it. If you realize that you are a person who simply can't stop giving away your full energy, you need to build in some barriers.

The 5 Whys is a simple, yet powerful, method for getting to the root cause of how you're feeling. It's introspection with a purpose.

The more you do something like this, the more you realize that there is so much to learn about yourself. You understand that life truly does matter; you just may not have been looking at it as closely as you could have.

But don't just take my word for it! Use this time to try introspection for yourself.

You already know so much. Sometimes, you just need to ask yourself the right questions.