How do I resolve existential uncertainties?

Trying to be certain about existence, the meaning of life, eternity, etc, is no different than trying to be certain about safety, cleanliness, love, or any of the other uncertainties we might try to resolve with compulsions.

If somebody wanted to feel certain about their safety before leaving the house each day, they would eventually get to a point where they could never do enough compulsions to feel safe, and then they wouldn’t leave the house. The same can happen with trying to resolve existential uncertainties before moving ahead with life–eventually it just paralyzes you.

The solution isn’t to resolve the uncertainties, it’s to move ahead with them. They can be there as you do the things that will make you happy and healthy.

One of the challenges with existential uncertainties is that we often believe we should know the answers and we should be certain about life and we need to know.

So cutting out the compulsions that fuel these anxieties will help but it’s also likely you’ll need to throw out some unhelpful beliefs and desires that you’re holding.

It’s impossible to be certain about life, so as long as you desire certainty about it, or believe you should be certain about it, these uncertainties will cause you distress.

Back to FAQs 13 0

3 comments On How do I resolve existential uncertainties?

  • Very well written. As everything from you Mark. I have OCD and I am living normal life to you and your site, S.C. Hayes and R. Harris books. And of course my faith helped me a lot. But I have a friend with depression and I suggested her ACT therapy. I also told her little about it. But her answer was: ” Why act according to values if we are going to die anyway?” Well I don’t know why. But I never had problems with that, cause I am a christian and I know why. This is a philosophic/religion question bu I don’t know how to answer her, cause she is atheist. Maybe you know if there is any other explanation why are we made that way? I didn’t study ACT so hard. I might will borrow Frankl’s search form meaning and find there some explanation to help her. But maybe even better… You have answer for her. I really want her at least to try ACT.

    With all my gratitude…

    Urska (from Slovenia)

    • The reason I live according to my values IS because I’m going to die anyway. In fact, I could die today. So it’s very important to me that I spend each moment before that in a way that matters to me, that contributes to my community in a way that I want, that expresses myself in a way that I want to express myself, not manipulated by fear or reacting to anxieties. That’s why I find ACT so useful: because it’s about regaining ownership over my life. Brain indigestion doesn’t have to control me anymore.

      I hope your friend finds some useful tools for the journey ahead of her 🙂

  • Ok, thanks. So am I right if I say she will find no point in living according to values, living according to values is the point? No matter if she understand and feel it or not. Everything else is search for certainty. But as I said her diagnose is depression… I will talk to her again, but therapist would be necessary. Unfortunately in Slovenia we only have CBT therapists.

    Best, U.

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.

Site Footer