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If You Claim To Be An Existentialist- You Probably Are Not One!

The first time I heard the term existentialiasm was while in deep therapy with a psychologist. He told me that I had an exististentialistic style of thinking and I had no idea what he was even talking about. I was just thinking like I have always thought throughout my life ?

I didn't pay any attention to it because I hate being labeled or put in a box but a few years later while visiting another therapist I was again labeled an existentialist.

This irritated me so I started studying what existentialism was mostly in an attempt to prove these brain doctors that I was not one!

I was actually very amazed to find out thet there were people that think very much as I do about life.

some examples from my youth- I fought against teacher, bullies and authority figures believing no one had a right to tell me how to think or what to believe or how to act. This got me in a lot of trouble.

The irony of that- I dropped out of high school, earned a GED and then a degree in Education and became a high school teacher.



But I couldn't be a regular school teacher in the public education system so I chose the private schools for at risk youth because I could relate to these kids.



But even though I loved the work my personality would not allow me to accept the restrictions and rules that teachers were forced to work under and afer 5 years I of course found a reason to blow that up and quit.



That became a pattern for my life as I would get a good job, work my way up the ladder because of my ability to solve problems and my personal demand for responsibility but once a manager or boss inflicted some rule or policy I disagreed with I would resist and either quit or be fired.



I started to believe (and so did my family) that I was antisocial or psychotic and because I have a history of mental illness in my family I sought out therapy. Which is how I came to be labeled an existentialist and was informed I was not really crazy but had a style of thinking that did not adjust well to most peoples thinking and would cause many problems for me if I tried to live like everyone else.



That was a very freeing enlightenment and from that point on I realized I could stop trying to fit in with society because it was never going to happen and instead I could focus on my life and what made me happy.

I gave up the teaching career, big house, 3 car garage, pool and fancy cars. Got a divorce and moved onto a small piece of land near the mountains where I built a small solar cabin to live in.

I started a small businesss so I would never have to answer to a boss again and my talents and abilities would be used to make me a living instead of making other people rich.

I had been raised LDS but I finally told my family all religions are crap and there may not even be a God.  Iam still undecided in this area so I guess that makes me an agnostic but once again I hate labels so I prefer to tell myself I have a personal spirituality and I am still seeking answers.

I am 45 years old now and live a very simple life writing books and and looking for the meaning in my life (which I now believe is life itself.)



The one thing I have figured out is if I sat in a room with Nietzsche, Sartre, and Kierkegaard we would have much in common but would not agree with each other due to our inability to allow our meaning of life to be limited by others perceptions or definitions.



So I say, if you claim to be an existentialist- you probably are not one!

 

LaMar

itsalljustbs itsalljustbs 46-50, M 9 Responses Mar 7, 2010

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check out youtube.com/unasleep <br />
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that's the answer to everything<br />
<br />
the connection between physics and religion<br />
<br />
it's all one thing<br />
<br />
there is a god<br />
<br />
god is yourself<br />
<br />
like jesus said<br />
<br />
if you find yourself, you will find god

The saying "if you claim to be an existentialist- you probably are not one!" is similar to the saying "I would never belong to a club that would have me as a member!"<br />
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Existentialists by nature of thinking reject being labeled or lumped into groups because the core of existentialism is the individual therefore anyone "claiming" to be an existentialist would be seeking to identify with a group and pattern their thinking to follow others and that is the antithesis of existentialism.<br />
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Existentialism is a belief or style of thinking (a philosophy) that I believe is a result of experiences, perceptions with possibly some genetics thrown in.<br />
<br />
Existentialism is not like a hat you choose to wear or a religion or club you can join and all the study of the topic in the world will not make you an existentialist.<br />
<br />
Most people that have existentialistic thinking have probably never heard of the term and because of the nature of their thinking would probably reject being labeled if you told them they were existentialists- that is what I did.<br />
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You can identify many existentialists because of some common thinking styles and life choices but because we are all individuals with different experiences and perceptions there is no one definition of existential thinking that will ever fit for all.<br />
<br />
If you have studied existentialism and can relate to the thinking style then you probably have some existential thinking style and many people do.<br />
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If your life is a pattern of disillusionment, internal strife, severe individualism, rebellion, depression, moments of success, great adventures, and complete chaos all mixed together then you are probably living as an existentialist without even knowing it.<br />
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I would like people to know that existentialism is not something you achieve like enlightenment or a way of thinking that will help you be more successful in life and the results of existentialistic thinking is often suicide, long term depression, or acceptance of an unfulfilled life.<br />
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There are some positive things that can come from existential thinking. Many of those people in history that were labeled as rebel individuals that rejected rules, government control, and the status-quo were probably existentialists and with out them many revolutions would probably never have happened.<br />
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If you can identify your own existential thinking and understand your life experiences and perceptions that have led to that thinking style then existentialism can be used to benefit your life and you can begin to form a personal philosophy for the meaning of your life.<br />
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For me, identifying my existential thinking has led me to a mission in life to challenge society and openly confront the pervasive and destructive thinking we are exposed to in school and the media and a mission to help others to find their own meaning in life in hopes that when enough people embrace their individuality and start thinking for themselves our world will be a better place for our future generations.

when you say "if you claim to be an existentialist- you probably are not one!" do you mean that you aren't allowed to call yourself an existential thinker as a rule (I'm not comfortable with rules) or is it aimed more towards the pretentious bohemian types who swarm art museums, overuse terminology and stick to their cliques?<br />
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My life is somewhat similar to yours in the sense that i never could stick to the path that society is forced to follow, but I can definitely say I'm an existentialist thinker, I see deluded people everywhere and I feel alone while they carry on playing their games and harming each other obliviously in the process.

Hey ilook,<br />
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My marriage failed/was failing because I had been trying to fit in with society and my exwifes view of the meaning of life and was denying my own search.<br />
<br />
I did miss out on my sons early childhood but I do believe I am a better person and a better father for making the change in my own life.<br />
<br />
He is 16 now and we are reunited.<br />
<br />
I am just starting to understand his thinking as he matures into an adult and from all he has said he is well on the road to existential thinking as well.<br />
<br />
Existential thinking is not a disease or disability. It is just a way certain people think based on their life perceptions and experiences.<br />
<br />
Some learn to use that thinking to fit into society and thrive and I hope my son is one of them.<br />
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Others have to escape society and look for the meaning on their own- that is me.<br />
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If I had a choice I would rather be one that could fit in as sometimes the search is better when you have support and feedback.

Hey ilook,<br />
<br />
My marriage failed/was failing because I had been trying to fit in with society and my exwifes view of the meaning of life and was denying my own search.<br />
<br />
I did miss out on my sons early childhood but I do believe I am a better person and a better father for making the change in my own life.<br />
<br />
He is 16 now and we are reunited.<br />
<br />
I am just starting to understand his thinking as he matures into an adult and from all he has said he is well on the road to existential thinking as well.<br />
<br />
Existential thinking is not a disease or disability. It is just a way certain people think based on their life perceptions and experiences.<br />
<br />
Some learn to use that thinking to fit into society and thrive and I hope my son is one of them.<br />
<br />
Others have to escape society and look for the meaning on their own- that is me.<br />
<br />
If I had a choice I would rather be one that could fit in as sometimes the search is better when you have support and feedback.

It has become fashionable for people to label themselves a certain religion, philosophy, lifestyle etc. and adopt a style of dress, living, sayings, and speech and this happens with a label like existentialism as well.<br />
<br />
People rarely have one thinking style and existentialism is more than one style of thinking and is a combination of many styles that develop from our own experiences and perceptions.<br />
<br />
If you put Nietzsche, Sartre, Kierkagaard, and Camus all together in a room they would probably have much in common but would never agree on the definition of an existentialist or the search for the meaning of life because by nature of their thinking they would never be limited by someone elses definition.<br />
<br />
Hence I say, If you claim you are an existentialist- you probably are not one!

ah it is funny how people (regular people) feel more comfortable and comforted when they can slap a label to there problems/the way they are. As i want to make it clear that i dont think its a problem as such but i think thats what people will use this label for.<br />
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u sound a fair bit like me dude, its scary, as if i wasnt different enough alreaydy. im glad ur happy though mate, athough i do think its a shame about ur family, as u said "the meaing of life is life itself". this might be philisophical bull, but still it got me to thinking, the depth of how ur family care about ur very existance, well i just was wondering if u still stay in contact? (i truely hope so, as to be needed by others is a great thing and should always be treasured..probably)<br />
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anyways i also though i'd through my 2 cent in about 'meaning of life'.<br />
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1. there isnt one, we make up our own reasons to go on everyday.<br />
2. the only thing worth caring about is other's who have the capability of caring.<br />
3. the only thing that's important in life is what we leave behind us.<br />
the two only two meaning full things we actually leave:<br />
what we create (phyically create that is) no other scence of the word<br />
what we teach to others<br />
o and also being told things by others is meaningless and stupid, as people can be wrong and genrally are. self descovery through logical processes is the only way to move forward as person.<br />
<br />
p.s as ur living in the mountains mate make gd use of those rocks, one of the most enjoyable things ever! is to go rockclimbin on ur own. go at ur own pace, ur own diffculty. just dont let the fear of emedate death scare u, remember that ur incontroll of everything ur doing and u'll feel a serean and peaceful calm wash over u. its awsome, try it some time.

If you want to label a style of thinking and push me through a cardboard cutout of an existentialist then I would have to say yes.<br />
<br />
I believe our thinking style is set at a certain time in our life and while we can fight against it or learn to recognize our own perceptions and use them the core will always remain.<br />
<br />
Do I see myself as an existentialist- no, but I have learned to recognize that style of thinking in myself and embrace it to make my life have meaning.

So are you an existentialist? Keep me posted on any developments.