In our group, we help one another ponder, explore, expose, and extract meaning. I believe that meaning is what's missing when symptoms sound their alarm bell so loud and clear. That's why I call this an existential group. And as we have discovered in group, over and over, what's most important is not the answers we come up with, but the questions themselves. This is because our answers to any given question, problem, issue, situation, or emergency, will change. It will depend on the situation, on the day, and on our mental/emotional/spiritual state at the time. Our answers will also change depending on who is with us (or against us). The important thing is our process of thinking about, working on, contemplating, dealing with, and even fighting with the question itself. As with most important matters in life, the process is king and the product is the jester.
“Everyone returns us to a different sense of ourselves, for we become a little of who they think we are.”
Alain de Botton
I have asked these questions to many clients over the years, and no two answers have ever been alike. But I have noticed that there are three basic reactions to these questions in general. The most common reaction is, "These are hard." The second most common reaction is, "These questions are weird" (or "I've never thought about this"). The least common reaction is, "I've thought about this stuff a lot (but I don't know if I've figured anything out yet)." Regardless of what your reaction might be to being exposed to these weird questions, the good news is, no matter what you think about them, they are just as important and as difficult as you want to make them.
You will find the ten questions at the end of this piece. I hope you will spend some time with them and write your answers down. Just contemplating your responses is valuable, but you engage a different, deeper part of your insight processes when you tap into those mysterious mechanisms in your brain that converts thoughts into ink. As you read what you've written, yet another complex set of electrochemical processes is utilized. You may have had the experience of journaling or otherwise scribbling down your thoughts (maybe in a letter to someone close) and being surprised. It is an absolute truth, I believe, that we don't completely know what we think until we take the time to write it down. I don't know why this is, but I imagine a neuroscientist would have an idea or two on the subject. (It will have something to do with 86 billion neurons working together, probably—for what that's worth.)
After you write a page or two per question, go over your answers with a friend, a loved one, or a therapist. You can expect to spend anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour per answer. As you attempt to put your deepest impulses about these unanswerable conundrums to the test (you're looking for your personal truth, remember), more questions will arise, as will more attempts at answers. And so it will go. From now until you stop caring about what your psyche needs to tell you. But if you ever do stop caring, please be prepared for unpleasant symptoms; and more crises of an existential nature.
I have one last piece of advice on the subject of hunting for your inner truth, or path, or road map, or Self, or purpose, or fun! Adventures of this kind can be tedious or confusing or even scary, but they might just help you explain something fundamental that you've been overlooking; something that keeps nagging at you, maybe even throwing you into crisis. You might be on your way to finding the reason we're here, so why not enjoy the ride? That's what I'm trying to do, anyway.