Existential Psychology

Do Not Fear Conflict And Struggle

By  | 

Most of the worthwhile art and literature is produced out of conflict, it’s the creative expression of and the psychological solution to struggle.

We all want life to be smooth sailing but not much of import comes out of smooth sailing. We either actively commit to our growth and self-actualization, in which case conflict and struggle will be part and parcel of the journey, or conflict and struggle find us, in which case we can buckle under the pressure or use those difficult times as grist for the mill for our growth and self-actualization.

Paradoxically most of us fear struggle when what we should really be afraid of is stagnation. From our existential point of view stagnation, abandoning the path of growth and self-actualization, is the root cause of destructive acts. These acts are a way to project onto the world the inner feeling of despair, of hopelessness, that comes from having given up on the process of becoming. This process of becoming is creation at its finest, it’s the art of living, the lifelong art project each of us undertakes. When this project is cast aside the range of destructive thoughts, emotions, and actions are likely to take its place.

There’s no question that destructive acts arise out of conflict too, probably also as a function of projection, as a way to try to place that inner feeling of chaos and turmoil out there onto people and the world in order to get some psychic relief. But these acts of destruction are due to not knowing how to effectively handle suffering rather than due to having given up on life itself. And its those who have given up on life itself who are capable of doing great evil under the banner of this or that rationalized cause. For the rest of us it comes down to a fork in the road where we can choose to use conflict and struggle as the soil for our creative acts to sprout rather than giving in to despair.