Cartoon purchased from Andertoons by Mike Bundrant
Do you regularly ponder life’s deeper meaning and other existential questions?
How about biting into juicy explorations of religion, morality, spirituality, and God? Or do you shy away from potentially disturbing existential questions, finding security and safety in your established beliefs?
A study recently published in the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science suggests that individuals who are willing to confront existential questions may have greater immunity to depression and anxiety.
According to Professor Julie Exline, the study’s co-author, a fear of asking oneself existential questions may be linked to greater difficulty in regulating emotions. The study also revealed that those who were resistant to considering these more challenging aspects of life and spirituality tended to be less open-minded towards groups or individuals outside their faith, belief or orientation:
“This avoidance may lead to the rejection of whole groups of people based
on their religious differences or perceived incongruence between, for example,
their sexuality or gender-based identity and religious teachings.”
J. Exline, Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (Oemig Dworsky et al., 2016)
Being willing to ask challenging existential questions, even if we do not resolve them, may help us experience a deeper sense of purpose in life. Resistance, avoidance, and fear of these topics, particularly where the questions are considered morally unacceptable or dangerous, could create emotional stress and strain, Being comfortable accepting and sitting with troubling thoughts and difficult questions might signify greater emotional health.
In NLP, asking the right questions, either as a practitioner or as a client, is vital. Willingness to review and challenge our predominant thoughts and beliefs opens the door to positive change and growth, as existential questions have the ability to shift perceptions and increase choice and flexibility.
15 Examples of Existential Questions
• Who am I?
• What is the meaning of life?
• Is there a God?
• Should I be punished for my wrongdoing?
• How do I define right and wrong?
• Do I have free will?
• What’s the most important thing in life?
• Are all people equal?
• Is life fair?
• Why do people hurt each other?
• Is there a true religion?
• Why do people suffer?
• What am I willing to change about myself?
• What do I need to accept about myself?
• What do I most avoiding knowing about myself?
Are you asking tough questions about life?