Existential Psychology

The Courage To Cut Off

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We all know it takes courage to hold on and keep going in the face of various life difficulties. But we rarely think about the other side of the coin, that it takes courage to cut off and keep going in the face of various life difficulties too.

The specter that makes the idea of cutting off scary is existential anxiety. Regardless of the trials and tribulations that come with holding on to some entity, the great psychological pull in continuing to hold on is that when you feel connected you don’t have to face the world alone. Your smallness against the vastness of the universe is less pronounced when you feel like you’re a part of something. Even when this something is unhealthy for you, even when you know it’s holding you back from happiness, from your growth and self-actualization, your’re tempted to keep holding on because remaining connected keeps your existential anxiety at bay.

Of course some people cut off when they really should hold on and then come up with a plausible rationalization to explain their behavior while others hold on when they really should cut off and then come up with a plausible rationalization to explain their behavior. What matters therefore is discovering your own psychology, discovering the factors that cue off existential anxiety in your life.

For many of us it comes down to a simple question. What do I fear more, commitment or being alone? If you’re deathly afraid of being alone then you’re a prime candidate for holding on to entities of all kinds when you’d be better served by cutting ties and moving on. If you’re deathly afraid of commitment then you’re a prime candidate for cutting off from entities when you’d be better served by holding on and staying the course.

In the last analysis, the decision to cut off or to hold on should be motivated by the concern for your growth and self-actualization and the growth and self-actualization of the people around you not by the unconscious psychological need to diminish existential anxiety. If you can bring that existential anxiety into conscious awareness and understand its source you’ll be in a much better position to know what to do in a given situation, to know if it’s time to hold on and keep going or cut off and move on.

Greetings I'm Michael, the owner of Evolution Counseling and the author of all the articles on this site. I got my master's degree from Seattle University in community mental heath counseling and have committed myself to advancing my knowledge of psychology and to evolving my own philosophical system ever since. In addition to the content on this site I offer online coaching using Skype. If you'd like to learn more about it click on the online coaching tab or if you think you'd like to set up a session send me an email at evolve@evolutioncounseling.com.

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