Existential Psychology

Existential Freedom

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Until you accept that the person most responsible for holding you back is you, you’ll probably stay stuck where you are. There are countless available psychological mechanisms you can use to evade awareness of your individual responsibility. The most common is probably projection, where you place your unwanted or unrecognized traits and behaviors onto people or structures in the external environment.

There probably are legitimate environmental factors that have acted as roadblocks to your growth and happiness. But from the existential point of view this is to be expected, growth includes struggle and the process shouldn’t be smooth sailing since no environment can be perfectly suited to your unique needs.

You can blame everything and everyone else, and you might be right that something from your environment caused your current situation, but this doesn’t mean things have to stay how they are right now forever. When you recognize that true freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want but instead the ability to respond to your set of given circumstances as you see fit, then you recognize that you and only you are responsible for your life.

This is at once a liberating and a confining insight. The paradox is that blaming something else for your predicament is actually a way to gain freedom from the obligation of personal responsibility. If you’re not responsible you don’t have to do anything, you can remain in neutral rather than facing the daunting challenges that always accompany significant life changes.