Struggling with an existential crisis? Here's how to overcome it

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2020 has been an interesting year to say the least, and whether or not you lost your job along the way or have just been really affected by what’s been going on in the world, it’s understandable that you find yourself questioning your worth and purpose in life after experiencing some distress. Basically, struggling with an existential crisis of sorts.

“When you undergo shock or less, the foundations of your security are shaken up, leaving you bombarded by doubts and uncertainty about the future,” says Cherlyn Chong, a breakup recovery and trauma specialist at Steps to Happyness. She shares five tips for working through this crisis.

Fall apart first

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“Allow yourself to fall apart in order to piece yourself back together. Cry as many times as you need to purge it out. Talk about all the doubts that you have as many times as you need to but give yourself a deadline.

''After this deadline, you are to start taking action instead of being a victim to difficult circumstances.”

Accept your new reality

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“It’s the inability to adapt to sudden change that sends most people spiralling into distress. So first, accept that this is your new normal.

You may not like it, you may not understand it, but accept that your past normal was never guaranteed to begin with.

The more you resist this new reality, the more you’re going to harbour deep resentment, anger and upset over it, inevitably hurting yourself more than helping. Acceptance, rather than resistance, will help you move forward much faster.”

Embrace the suck

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“The US military has a concept called ‘Embrace the suck’, where you let something inevitable and deeply unpleasant into your life and just let it happen.

The whole thing may be bad but we’ll just deal with it as it comes. So, hold your head up high. Welcome the challenge. Refuse to be intimidated. Laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. Then, charge forward.”

Adopt a growth mindset

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“When I left my well-paying but very stressful job at a big Global 500 company, I had to adopt this mindset. It means that we see mistakes and mishaps as just a part of life, and strive to learn from them.

''We view failure as just a challenge to do better next time. Anything can be conquered if we apply smart thinking and hard work to it. So instead of asking, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ I asked, ‘What can I do now?

''How can I make use of my talents to create a career I love?’ Keep asking these empowering, actionable questions.

''Don’t ask fatalistic ones that no one can answer, because it only emphasises the hopelessness and you cannot take any purposeful action from there. Focus on what you CAN do.”

Take aligned action

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“This might be an obvious step, but some people sit in empowerment for a few days, give up and spiral back down.

Many people don’t know where to start or experience brain fog because they keep being overwhelmed by everything instead of dialling it down to simple, step-by-step strategies that will get things running.

So sit down, draw up a mind-map and figure out what you want. What are the most doable options to get there? What is likely going to give you the best return? And most of all, what is one small, specific step that you can do right now to start?

Drawing and writing your answers down will clear your path forward. All you have to do to make it happen is to stop dwelling and get started.

This article was first published in Her World Online.