At some point in their lives, many people question what brings them true meaning. For some, midlife may be a period of reevaluation. For others, a crisis of some sort may lead to an existential inquiry. Any number of things may trigger this, including the loss of a loved one, an accident, or an illness that causes the person to examine their purpose.
In our fast-paced society, we tend to be so wrapped up in our day-to-day lives that we rarely take the time to stop and consider the direction we’re headed. We may have an underlying feeling of dissatisfaction or unhappiness, but we may not understand why. On the surface, we may appear to be leading full and successful lives, but on a deeper level, we sense we are not living up to our potential.
For people going through an identity crisis, activities that previously brought fulfillment may no longer be enjoyable. Feelings of depression may arise as they take stock of their lives and perhaps find them lacking. Things that may have felt important before may feel meaningless or a like a waste of time. This can be a moment of reflection and resetting.
For anyone faced with a crossroads or struggling with a lack of purpose, the following suggestions may be helpful:
- Take time to meditate. Silent awareness and making time to just be can be beneficial when we’ve lost our footing or sense of direction. Creating more spaciousness can enable us to get back in touch with the depths of our being, rather than remaining stuck in unproductive thoughts. When thoughts arise as you’re meditating (as they undoubtedly will), allow them to float by as if they are clouds moving across a perfectly blue sky.
- Assess whether your work feels important. It’s easy to feel unfulfilled if you don’t enjoy the work you do. If you are not pursuing your passion, it’s never too late to do so. You may want to look for ways to switch to the career you’ve dreamed of, either by going back to school; becoming more serious about a hobby you enjoy; or starting your own business. We spend so much time working that we really should try to find contentment in what we do.
We spend so much time working that we really should try to find contentment in what we do.
- Nurture yourself. We’re multifaceted beings. It’s important to nurture our physical, emotional, intellectual, and spiritual needs. If one part is out of balance or neglected, it can impact overall health and well-being. Make sure you are taking care of your body by eating a healthy diet and getting fresh air and exercise on a regular basis. Take care of your emotional needs by developing and maintaining close relationships. Intellectual needs may be met through work and engaging in ongoing learning opportunities and personal development. Spiritual needs may be addressed in whatever way feels best for you. If you are religious, prayer and church attendance may be good options. If you are not religious, communing with nature can be a spiritual experience.
- Consider changes. Imagine, for a moment, being on your deathbed and reflecting on your life. Determine what kind of legacy you would like to leave behind. What are some of the achievements you would like to accomplish? What types of relationships do you wish for? If present life circumstances are not conducive to what you want to look back on when you’re older, what changes can you make that may leave you feeling more satisfied and aligned with your authentic self?
We all go through times of change, which can lead to existential crises. If this is an issue you have been dealing with, use the suggestions above to figure out a new direction. If you have also been struggling with feelings of depression, you may want to meet with an empathic therapist to work through some of your concerns and learn ways to cope.
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