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Life feeling purposeless, decisions therefore feel pointless

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  • #125389
    Esther
    Participant

    Hi,

    To some extent I feel embarrassed to write about the difficulties/decisions i face, but I constantly return to the same position and can’t continue this cycle of indecision and unhappiness. I don’t make it easy for myself by making no decisions and letting deadlines pass by so the choice is made for me and i can continue doing nothing.
    It is a lot more complex than what I am about to write, so i’ll try and summarise effectively. I didn’t do well in school and had and still don’t have many actual friends. Eventually i went to university at 23 after working in a job i hated for 5 years and worked my butt off to get good grades in a humanities based subject that i was then excited by. I did really well and left with a desire to work in that field but slowly my interest in this area dwindled and I’ve returned to a state of mind where i feel ‘whats the point.’ After years of just floating a long and sometimes applying for jobs that look moderately interesting, I’ve lost all interest in working at all and turned to traveling as that was the only thing i felt excited by. I went travelling indefinitely, had the most amazing time but came back after 4 months. I went back to my old job, managing a small team which i hate, but like some of the people and turned again toward travelling, now a year later after being back. I can back feeling more positive a bout my life (lack of friends, still at home at 30)but now i want to get away again and everything here feels so empty. i should point out that most of my family live abroad and i only have my mother and father here. It seems traveling, or being ‘somewhere else’ is all i want to do but i can’t work out whether I’m running away from the fact that i am living with my mother at 30 and have very few friends and never seem to build anything that makes me really that happy here or its actually the only thing i enjoy. when i was backpacking, i returned a lot to my creative side, photography and pottery and looked forward to doing this when i got back – i didn’t. I have planned what should be an amazing trip to japan now and now i feel numb to it and want to cancel. it feels pointless and a huge waste of money. For years I’ve wanted to go and now its here right in front of me, i think its easier to stay at home and in my job where I’m treated with little respect and try and pursue a life here. Neither interest me.

    I think perhaps what i desire is something with longevity and purpose and a short trip away, in circumstances where i might lose my job, a job i don’t like feels stupid and spoilt and a bad choice. I desperately want to move out but its very expensive and i will never be able to save again – for studies or for travel. i figured, go traveling, come back find a job and move out – but all of it just feels empty and any excitement for any of these options has gone. Equally i spend long periods of time at home doing nothing but going to work so staying feels just as awful and pointless.

    I saved for years for this trip, but maybe my interests changed?? I sit around asking anyone who will listen, about what they think i should do, but everyone just seems to reflect the mood I’m in, which changes every few hours.

    I have been single for 8 years now, I’m living at home, which is ok but I’ve lived in this house for 28 years and feel zero motivation here, although its comfortable and i feel life just passes me by. I know this is my responsibility but i don’t feel motivated to do anything about it. I often feel very very lonely and going off to travel means i get away from everything here but i have to come back. My mother is very dependent on me and this put a lot of pressure on me to stick around. She will help me financially if i live with here but not if i leave. travel seems a good option but even that now doesn’t excite me.

    Ive seen councillors and had therapy over the years for depression and anxiety and to be honest i am probably feeling the best I’ve felt in years, i don’t think I’m depressed, i just can’t see the ‘logic’ in doing things anymore. To note, i am hugely appreciative that i even have the option to travel and a parent to live with, thats a separate issue, i just need to find happiness in something but I’m also crippled by the inability to decide which ‘pointless’ course/travel/anything to pursue. Theres lots more to this issue i suspect and id be really happy to discuss it more and talk with someone on here if they have time.

    #125442
    anita
    Participant

    Dear esther08:

    How is your mother dependent on you and what is your relationship with her like? I wonder if you discussed this that I asked with a therapist in the past.

    Here is a possible explanation to what is going on, just a possibility:

    You feel trapped living with your mother. You want to be free of the entrapment with her so you “run away” traveling, pretending you are free in this other place and that other far away country. You love freedom, freedom from your mother.

    But you keep coming back to your mother. At this point, you can’t pretend anymore that a trip to Japan means freedom. You’ve done traveling before and you already know you come back to the same-old-same-old entrapment.

    Whatever motivation you had to study and travel; to work so to make the money to travel- the motivation is gone because your most urgent need is and has been- to get away from your mother.

    Like I said, just a possibility- feel free to correct, deduct, extract and edit it.

    anita

    #125448
    Peter
    Participant

    I don’t think I’m depressed, i just can’t see the ‘logic’ in doing things anymore

    Depression takes many forms and you appear to be have gotten stuck in existential depression.
    What is the point?

    What I mean is that the danger with existential angst is that we become the stories and thoughts we tell ourselves.

    The good news is that you are the cure the bad news is that you are the cure. (If your story was told as fairy tale this would be the point where the hero would be slapped hard. What is this thing call logic when on the quest? )

    I have read a great deal on the subject of meaning, purpose and happiness and so can save you time. Unless you are interested in the concepts of meaning, propose and happiness for their own sake you will find few answers. Looking to the concepts/logic for answers of ‘self’ will only make the pit you have dug yourself deeper.

    Meaning, purpose and happiness are not matters of the intellect. They are not ‘things’ that can be found, grasped or held… they can only be experienced.

    Meaning purpose and happiness exist in every moment, not to be grasped but noticed. I know that sounds trite and suspect that truth is unhelpful as like most of us we long for something objective, something we can own. Yet that is one of the tasks of the hero journey

    When does a seeker become a finder? It’s not until you give up the search that you are at a place to find it.

    “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” – T. S. Eliot

    We live in a time were only the objective extraverted purpose and meaning are valued and only experience purpose when others acknowledge that we have it. We sit around asking anyone who will listen to tell us who we are, what we should do.

    “Life has no meaning. Each of us has meaning and we bring it to life. It is a waste to be asking the question when you are the answer.” ― Joseph Campbell

    You are your meaning. To ‘find’ it my advice is to stop asking questions and seeking logic and act.

    Even if everything is pointless what does that thought of pointlessness matter? Why should that stop you from experience?

    You will not find experience you long for in the eyes of another you can only experience it in experience

    “If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” ― Joseph Campbell

    The life that you ought to be living is the one you are living! So Live it! Break out of the self-defeating cycle of analyst paralyses on thinking you must understand concepts like meaning, purpose and happiness in order to have them. Do not seek happiness and be happy.

    #125454
    Esther
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Firstly thank you for replying. I have never entered forum territory before and was slightly worried about possible replies, or in fact no replies. This seems like a safe space.

    Im not sure my mother knows she is dependent on me, and I also believe its got to a stage where i too am perhaps dependent on her. She offers me a comfortable home, supports me in some but not all ways and we get on, for the most part – I am grateful that we have a good relationship. However, My parents split up just after i was born, so 29 years ago, and she’s never found or wanted to find anyone since. She has friends, but often would rather do things with me as i would with her. its easy, i don’t feel judged. She has no family in the UK apart from me, doesn’t really have a hobby and doesn’t get up to much. We get on well most days, which is nice and it makes it bare able, but she is extremely emotionally immature, she can’t deal with criticism of any kind and theres a sadness to her, like she’s given up on life. I have discussed this with a therapist in the past and was told I have trust issues. I have no friends i truly trust and only tell my mother some but not all my feelings as i never want to upset her. My mum feels my pain when things happen, even more so than i do, if that makes any sense so its almost as if i can’t express my hurt or pain with things, because i worry it will upset her.

    You said ”You feel trapped living with your mother. You want to be free of the entrapment with her so you “run away” traveling, pretending you are free in this other place and that other far away country. You love freedom, freedom from your mother.” I believe this to be true, i went to university out of london, partly because it was the course i wanted but mostly to get away, thinking i wouldn’t go back and i did, so as you suggested, whilst i like travelling, i see it as a way to get away. I don’t want freedom from my mother, i think i just want a healthy relationship with her, not one where we feel like a couple all most. She’s told me she would never throw me out and its almost as if shed be happy i stay forever, that can’t be right.

    My brother and her sister and parents live on the other side of the world, so in a way she’s my responsibility. She says this is not true but her actions say otherwise.

    Your point ‘At this point, you can’t pretend anymore that a trip to Japan means freedom. You’ve done traveling before and you already know you come back to the same-old-same-old entrapment.’ Its difficult, because who wouldn’t want to go and see the world, but i feel i need to build something here for me, especially as once my parents aren’t around ill have no one. Im not good at forming new relationships, and my mum allowing me to lean on her isn’t healthy. Thank you also, for not judging my post. I feel spoilt complaining about some of these things, but I’ve saved for years to do this trip, I’m not really financially that comfortable.

    Whilst i live in the family home, she pays my rent, food, everything – she has said if i move out she will help me with nothing and as a result i do feel trapped.

    I miss family, its just me, mum and dad and its lonely, travelling is a way of meeting people and i sometimes think i will stay in another country like my brother ended up doing but it doesn’t happen.

    I think some of the stuff you have said has been really eye opening, and its easy to forget why you begin doing something in the first place so thank you, i hope this gives you a bit more information and if you have anything else id be really happy to listen.

    #125458
    Esther
    Participant

    Hi Peter,

    Thanks for your reply.

    Perhaps if we were to give it a name it would be existential depression, but at its very core i find it more logical – that there isn’t point/purpose to a lot that we do and therefore making plans for my ‘future’ becomes extremely difficult. Especially when I’m choosing between 2 things such as moving out/travel or further education. To add, i am interested in a lot of things, i am both academic and creative, and i don’t feel ‘home’ anywhere. these things combined, plus my feeling that everything anyway doesn’t actually matter leads to me doing nothing and thus continuing the cycle. Every option feels like a loose in some way. I get that experience in itself is a wonderful thing, I know this, i have had wonderful experiences and fond memories of things, but I can’t bring myself to the point of new experiences at the moment. or rather deciding which one.

    I have been practising mindfulness and did CBT for a while and have learnt to think in the present, appreciate things and this has helped enormously with my anxiety – it hasn’t however dealt with bigger issues i have such as planning what next and making decisions.

    I find the world we live in rather silly, and to some extent want to reject it but that can be lonely. I think your point ‘We sit around asking anyone who will listen to tell us who we are, what we should do’ is extremely fundamental to my generation and seeking approval off those people we happen to cross paths with means we never really learn ourselves, we are ever changing and its hard to never reach a point where we understand what we actually want. It gets cloudy/messy.

    You said ‘You are your meaning. To ‘find’ it my advice is to stop asking questions and seeking logic and act. Even if everything is pointless what does that thought of pointlessness matter? Why should that stop you from experience?’ I think my problem here is i feel numb to all of this now, almost frozen by indecision. Everything feels like a compromise, not because it necessarily is but because I just feel like I’m doing things to just ‘do things.’ I don’t want to choose things on this basis anymore, but by not choosing i do nothing and that too whilst not an active choice is easier.

    I’m not sure I am even attempting to seek happiness, Just something that works. Even writing that, i questioned myself, ‘just something that works’ i don’t mean that. I don’t believe happiness is a continuous thing, it comes in waves, most of the time we are neither happy nor unhappy and i wonder maybe that is what happiness is – not feeling unhappy, if that makes sense!

    #125492
    anita
    Participant

    Dear esther08:

    You wrote about your mother:
    “*she can’t deal with criticism of any kind and
    *theres a sadness to her, like she’s given up on life…
    *i can’t express my hurt or pain with things, because i worry it will upset her…
    *She’s told me she would never throw me out and its almost as if shed be happy i stay forever, that can’t be right…. she has said if i move out she will help me with nothing”

    She pays you to live with her. She will withdraw all financial help if you leave.
    You can’t criticize her, not at all, so you can’t assert yourself with her. You can’t have your way, if your way upsets her. And you can’t express your feelings, because it will upset her.

    You wrote: “I don’t want freedom from my mother, i think i just want a healthy relationship with her, not one where we feel like a couple all most.”- this is a loaded sentence. There is a disturbing element of emotional incest, an unhealthy relationship between the two of you and nothing you can do to make it healthy. So in effect, you do need freedom from your mother.

    The living arrangement with your mother is money in exchange for your freedom. When you are not free, and you are not, life does feel purposeless and decisions feel pointless. Not a good living arrangement for you, the price you pay is too high.

    Share more, if you’d like, about the emotional incest, perhaps?

    anita

    #125550
    Peter
    Participant

    Perhaps if we were to give it a name it would be existential depression, but at its very core i find it more logical

    I could be wrong however I think the logical search for meaning and the ‘point of things’ is existential.

    As a seeker for understanding and wanting to know why I very much relate to your problem. Philosophically I suspect that all such seeking ends in the absurd to which I give Albert Camus the last word. My opinion after my travel down that road is that all philosophy ends in the absurd.

    Similar to Camus I concluded that the question of ‘what the point it’ is not the point and ultimately unhelpful. The point is you, you are the point and that must be enough. It is enough.

    If you are going to wait until you know with ‘certainty’ what the point of some act is, you will never act. You are looking for validation externally when meaning, purpose and ‘the point’ can and will only be found internally.

    I do not mean to be harsh, however as I have fallen into the same trap as you describe I can tell you the need to understand what the point is misses the point and leads nowhere. There will be no answer that cannot be logically dissected until you have proven to yourself that you were right all along and that there is not point.

    I wonder if the problem is not that ‘all is pointless’ but that it has become a excuse not to live your potential. The problem then wold not be about finding the right logic but one of fear.

    Fear is to courage as doubt is to faith (faith in this case that there is a point). Do not let a fear of uncertainty and not knowing keep you from life.

    If I were able to send my younger self a message I would say that seeking understanding is apart of your nature so must be honored however don’t get stuck in it, don’t use it as a excused from entering into your life.

    Have you read the book or seen the movie ‘Fault in the Stars’. Should Grace have avoided the experience of relationship because she saw no point and that life was meaningless?

    or may Download Five for Fighting song the Reason

    There was a man back in ’95
    Whose heart ran out of summers
    But before he died, I asked him
    Wait, what’s the sense in life
    Come over me, Come over me

    He said,
    Son why you got to sing that tune
    Catch a Dylan song or some eclipse of the moon
    Let an angel swing and make you swoon
    Then you will see… You will see

    Then he said,
    Here’s a riddle for you
    Find the Answer
    There’s a reason for the world
    You and I…

    Picked up my kid from school today
    Did you learn anything cause in the world today
    You can’t live in a castle far away
    Now talk to me, come talk to me

    He said,
    Dad I’m big but we’re smaller than small
    In the scheme of things, well we’re nothing at all
    Still every mother’s child sings a lonely song
    So play with me, come play with me

    And Hey Dad
    Here’s a riddle for you
    Find the Answer
    There’s a reason for the world
    You and I…

    I said,
    Son for all I’ve told you
    When you get right down to the
    Reason for the world…
    Who am I?

    There are secrets that we still have left to find
    There have been mysteries from the beginning of time
    There are answers we’re not wise enough to see
    He said… You looking for a clue I Love You free…

    The batter swings and the summer flies
    As I look into my angel’s eyes
    A song plays on while the moon is high over me
    Something comes over me

    I guess we’re big and I guess we’re small
    If you think about it man you know we got it all
    Cause we’re all we got on this bouncing ball
    And I love you free
    I love you freely

    Here’s a riddle for you
    Find the Answer
    There’s a reason for the world
    You and I…

    #125587
    Esther
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    Your wrote ‘She pays you to live with her. She will withdraw all financial help if you leave.’ This hit me quite hard, its quite a blunt statement and i feel a little summarised, i think perhaps the relationship is more complex. She wants to help by not letting me pay for anything, but of course this benefits her. I don’t believe these actions, whilst true, are malicious. I do wish she would push me harder towards independence, especially as she knows once she’s not around I practically have no one. It makes me resent her, and at the same time worried because when I’m gone who does she have, yes a few friends but not any deeper relationships than someone to go to a gallery or coffee with.

    I didn’t like your phrase ’emotional incest’. It suggests abuse, vulnerability and i believe we are both vulnerable at this stage in our lives. You said i want freedom from my mother, but thats not the only thing i ran away from. I find life hard, relationships with ‘friends’, making friends, careers choice, financial instability to name a few. It feels like a struggle thats not worth it – i am ALWAYS, disappointed by things and people. Previous travel has taken me someone else, away from here, new things that i know nothing about and thus cannot disappoint i guess – i do believe i use it as a way of having some independence for a short while – but not specifically away from my mother, away from my home context.

    I don’t want to discuss the term emotional incest, i didn’t write my post to continue a thread about this issue, whilst i understand that my mother, and financial instability plays a role. My inability to make decisions has got way out of hand, and my tangled mind can’t seem to start at zero again.

    #125600
    anita
    Participant

    Dear esther08:

    I will gladly withdraw the term I used, which you found offensive. I am not clear if you want any more of my input following the use of that term and the blunt statement I made that hit you hard. If you want further input by me, let me know. If you do, I will be more gentle with you.

    anita

    #125657
    Peter
    Participant

    “The point is there ain’t no point.” ― Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men (Horrible pointless movie – which was the point)

    The danger of finding everything pointless is not noticing when you slip into nihilism

    “The most dangerous side of nihilism, however, is that in the end it becomes happy and satisfied with itself.” But oh so empty.

    Have your read Life of PI?
    “To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.”

    “‘So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can’t prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals?’ Mr. Okamoto: ‘That’s an interesting question?’ Mr. Chiba: ‘The story with animals.’ Mr. Okamoto: ‘Yes. The story with animals is the better story.

    Choose a better story.

    The only way to overcome analysis paralysis and inactivity is to stop analyzing and get up and do something.

    #125662
    Nan
    Participant

    Dear esther08, Your situation scares me for the following reason: my friend is 63 years old (my age), She had similar relationship with her mother in her twenties and onward. We went to college together, and I can see how your relationship with your mother is very similar. That hostage feeling of: “she needs me, makes my life comfortable by taking care of of me and paying for things, so I don’t leave. When I speak of a possible life more independent, she becomes upset and tells me she will cut off any support “out there”.
    This is exactly the discussions and thoughts we used to talk over, over the years and decades.
    Here is the very sad continuation of this sort of life:
    My friend’s mother is now 95 years old, senile and a very big problem to deal with. My friend never left home, and has been living with her her ENTIRE LIFE now. She feels she has burned her life away and now takes care of a woman who doesn’t even know her, fights with her in her frail way, and is a struggle to get her to take a bath or not poop on the floor. That is the life my friend has now. She also could not make “decisions” and it was easier to stay year after year. She has many regrets and realized paralysis kept her in” place”, because she wasn’t strong enough to think of any other way. If life is purposeless now, how will it feel years from now, if there is never a time to get up and get moving, no matter how frightening or guilt-ridden. You are young, dont let your own life get away from you

    #125714
    Esther
    Participant

    Dear Nan,

    thanks for your reply. This thread seems to have picked up on an issue that was not the sole reason for my original message. I think perhaps its been taken too literal when i said that if i move out my mother won’t help me financially. She has never said this – and it therefore has never been a ‘threat’ of any sort. The rent in my home city is ridiculous and i want to stay here, so up until now at least its been a sensible option – many of my friends and brothers friends whom are older are still at home.

    I do have difficulty in that i feel somewhat responsible for my mother, but i lived away from home for 3 years previously and i can do it again. I just don’t want to pay rent prices as it means compromising a lot of things. I also don’t feel comfortable moving cities as it seems unnecessary and i would feel even lonelier than i already do – plus i have work here.

    Thank you for your message and concerns but its really not where i was going with my message – its hard to explain all the details at once and therefore get clarity on a complex situation…perhaps i didn’t share the ‘right’ things in the right way.

    #125715
    Esther
    Participant

    Dear Anita,

    I didn’t find it offensive, and really appreciated your input about freedom and seeking independence. I think when i left home for university for 3 years at 23, that was me trying to seek independence in general (not specifically from my mother) and since i have been seeking freedom in the ‘wrong’ ways perhaps, as they a temporary and not a long term solution.

    I suppose i thought i might stay somewhere where i had been travelling, meet someone, or get a job a liked somehow. That never happened and so I’m still seeking freedom/independence elsewhere – rather than in my home town where it is possible too. That comment you made about seeking independence really struck a chord with me and i suppose that’s more where id like in put or any advice.

    I spoke to a work colleague yesterday about travelling/setting up foundations somewhere and we seem to be on a similar page. Everything feels like such a big compromise, one we don’t want to make and therefore often do nothing – unhappy with all the options. I feel the years passing me by though and things i yearned to do seem impossible or too hard to obtain without huge sacrifice.

    I think i will not go travelling for now. It doesn’t feel right. Its just a temporary solution to an ongoing problem and i don’t want to go away to get away – rather go because i want to – i still need to come back and its the back bit i suppose i need to not be afraid to come back to. What do you think?

    #125718
    Nina Sakura
    Participant

    Dear Esther,

    Its great you have posted here. Welcome 🙂 After going through your posts, the following thoughts came to my mind :-

    1) You want to feel a sense of ease with yourself

    2) You crave more intimacy with others but can’t seem to open up that much because of trust issues

    3) You want your mom to push you more to be independent

    4) The past was a mixed bag, the present seems dull and the future feels like it will eventually turn dull when you come back from your short tours.

    You feel like you don’t quite know what you want to do, not sure of what to do next, there are monetary restrictions and internal ones too.

    As a result, you feel more demotivated and kinda hopeless.

    This might sound trite but perhaps what you may be really missing is a job that gives you enough independance to move out, a good friend here and there, more confidence about yourself and self initiative.

    I think you are looking for “that something” to make you feel more alive and optimistic. Life neeeds to feel more colorful and new.

    What do you reckon you can do to feel more uplifted from inside? What do you think is missing most at the moment?

    Regards
    Nina

    #125719
    anita
    Participant

    Dear esther08:

    I am glad you asked me what I think. I re-read all your posts on this thread, so I can give you my best thoughts, that is, the most accurate, to the best of my ability.

    In a note to me, you wrote: “That comment you made about seeking independence really struck a chord with me and i suppose that’s more where id like in put or any advice.”- will try to accommodate this request.

    If you are to learn something true and significant from our communication here, such learning will cause you distress. Most people escape distress automatically, and so, reject such learning. Evaluate my input for any truth in it, you decide. Be prepared for distress: unfortunately, it is part of the process.

    You wrote: “I don’t want freedom from my mother, i think i just want a healthy relationship with her”- in this sentence you made it clear, did you not, that the relationship with your mother is unhealthy. To me, it is clear.

    When you wrote: “everything here feels so empty” that includes your relationship with your mother: it too is empty. When you wrote: “I often feel very very lonely”- that means you are extremely lonely in your relationship with your mother.

    When you traveled, “that was the only thing i felt excited by.” and it is then that you got back your “creative side, photography and pottery and looked forward..”

    But when back home, your creative side was gone, your motivation- gone, and you “feel zero motivation here, although its comfortable.”

    Now, why am I focusing on your relationship with your mother? Maybe it is the expensive rent where you live that is the problem, maybe the job, the people… why my focus on this relationship?:

    My answer to my own question to follow:

    You wrote: “I find life hard, relationships with ‘friends’, making friends, careers choice, financial instability to name a few. It feels like a struggle thats not worth it – i am ALWAYS, disappointed by things and people.” Then you wrote: “Previous travel has taken me someone else, away from here, new things that i know nothing about and thus cannot disappoint i guess”

    The answer is in these last quotes, above. There is “a sadness to her (your mother), like she’s given up on life” you wrote earlier. I think it is she who is “ALWAYS disappointed by things and people,” and it is you who adopted this core belief, that things and people will always disappoint you. It is her belief that has taken root in you, through the relationship with her. When you traveled, you were like “someone else”- someone who temporarily didn’t believe that people and things were disappointing and “thus cannot disappoint,” you wrote.

    The independence that struck a chord in you, I believe, is in peeling off her core belief about things-and-people-always-disappointing, untrustworthy (a core belief that keeps her lonely, even with you), and forming your own core belief which will allow you to approach (selectively) things-and-people with hope.

    anita

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