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Existential Lessons from Everyday Life

Existential concepts are valuable in understanding every day happenings and provide a different way of interpreting the sometimes bizarre or unexpected behaviour of others.  For example, imagine a situation where you confide in a friend.  For example, you explain that you and your partner have parted ways.  You are surprised by their lack of empathy for your situation and consider them selfish as they turn the conversation around to themselves.  Surprised, you struggle to understand how this person can ignore your plight and focus on what ‘your break’ means to them.   Are they selfish, have you misunderstood the reality of your relationship with them or are the responses more existential in nature?

If you consider the friend’s responses as indicative of a different worldview, it can be a refreshing and insightful way to consider the sitaution – which is existential in nature.  What if, the friend believed that relationships should last forever and that  people should stay together regardless of their differences and work through their problems? What if your changed circumstances challenge their beliefs that separation is even possible and that the world is certain?  Instead of the issue being one of her being unable to offer you support, it becomes one of crisis for the friend, since she is challenged in her beliefs about what is possible.  The world has suddenly become unpredictable and unfixed – unlike her fixed view of what the world should be like.

The changed circumstances reflect to her the uncertainty of life and the ineffectiveness of fixed models of the world.  She, like us all, have to come face to the face with the co-created nature of our unfixed phenomenal existence.

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