As a student of clinical psychology I learned about many theories of treatment and frameworks for understanding people. One treatment method and framework that stands out to me the most is existentialism. During a PhD clinical psychology residency I had the opportunity to experience a brief five to ten minute session in front of a room full of people. The experience was powerful, I was told to recall something that I felt strongly about and to just sit with that emotion. The therapist would then reflect what I was talking about in an understanding manner. After a few minutes of this I was asked to describe my feelings and tensions, I remember my body was hot, and my fists were clinched. I was told to accept the feelings, which was difficult. Although, the session was a mock one and lasted for only a short amount of time I was able to better understand how the issue I reflected on was influencing me and I was able to change that influence. Existentialism is a powerful therapy tool, and an enlightened view of the world.
What is existentialism?
Existentialism is understanding your state of being as it is without applying an external judgment to your state of being. It is considered a theoretical process developed by Soren Kierkegaard, who lived in the mid-1800s. Existentialism is a theoretical process that started becoming popular after the 2nd World War particularly in Europe. Existentialism is understanding that individuals must decide the manner in which they will live life, and that all individuals have the will to decide their responses, and actions to everyday life.
Is existentialism a religion?
There are many components to existentialism that are similar to religious theories. One assumption is that we all have free will to choose our behavior and path in life. The difference comes in the meaning behind the choices we make, and the behaviors we engage in. For example, in some religions behavior and choices have meaning in terms of punishment and reward, or more commonly understood as hell and heaven. In existentialism it is argued that we as individuals have to provide the meaning behind our behaviors, and decisions in which we must ultimately decide for ourselves how we would want to live.
Existentialism is a good way of looking at your life. It is about accepting your power to decide or not decide. In other words, your will allows you to look and think about a situation however you see fit, and there is power in this to create the type of existence you want.