The Paradox of Choice

In this episode of the Collective Unconscious Podcast, Dr. Damien Tilliman, psychologist and a business owner, and Dr. Sheena Shachdev, a practicing Existential Psychotherapist, delve into the world of existentialism and its relevance to their work with clients. They explore how existential questions permeate various aspects of life, from identity and relationships to the impact of choices in the modern world. The conversation touches on the shift in existential concerns across generations and the paradox of choice in today’s society. The hosts also discuss the role of therapy in addressing existential crises, the search for meaning, and the challenges of balancing busyness with contemplation.

Existentialism is more than just a philosophical concept; it’s a lens through which we question the very essence of our existence. In the latest episode of the Collective Unconscious Podcast, hosts Dr. Tilliman and Dr. Shachdev embark on a journey into the world of existentialism, unraveling its relevance to their work in therapy and how it intricately weaves through the fabric of our lives.

“Existentialism is like a mirror, reflecting our questions about life, identity, and purpose back at us.”

– Dr. Shachdev

Existentialism, at its core, is a philosophical exploration of the individual’s place in the world. Existential questions form the foundation of anxiety, depression, and identity crises. It’s not just about finding answers but understanding the power of the questions themselves. It’s important to emphasize that therapy plays a crucial role in navigating existential crises. It helps individuals confront and address their existential questions, providing a positive outlook and guiding them toward self-discovery.

As time progresses, so do the questions that keep us awake at night. The hosts compare existential concerns across generations, delving into the influence of technology on the contemporary existential landscape. How does the digital age shape our search for meaning, and what existential challenges does it present?

Some of the deep existential questions we all ask ourselves:

  • “Who am I, truly, beyond societal roles and expectations?”
  • “How do I find meaning in a seemingly indifferent world?”
  • “Why does suffering exist?”
  • “What mark do I want to leave on the world?”
  • “How do I stay true to myself and have meaningful connections at the same time?”

In a world with 30 toothpaste options, abundance impacts decision-making and relationships in a paradoxical way. Our modern lifestyle and race to provide a greater comfort, gave birth to the paradox of choice, where more options can lead to indecision and dissatisfaction, affecting not only our toothpaste selection but our broader life choices. So where is that stop button and how to relieve yourself from an ever-growing anxiety to provide a better life for yourself, your family and kids? 

“The paradox of choice isn’t just about toothpaste; it’s about navigating a sea of possibilities that define our very existence.”

– Dr. Tilliman

What does freedom of choice mean when the choices available differ based on your ZIP code? The big city provides people with seemingly endless possibilities and busy, nervous lifestyles which nourishes all sorts of questions about meaning, freedom, responsibilities, relationships. Those same existential concerns manifest differently in small-town settings where they might not become a cause of an overwhelming existential anxiety.  

In the hustle and bustle of city life, existential thoughts are often drowned out by the noise of busyness, and yet, they’re there, keeping you up at night. Dr. Tilliman and Dr. Shachdev analyze the correlation between being constantly occupied and avoiding contemplation, stressing the importance of transitioning and finding moments for self-reflection.

Vacations, meant for relaxation, can sometimes lead to unexpected bouts of depression. Our hosts uncover the challenges of transitioning during vacations and challenge the notion of free time. Does the pursuit of leisure align with societal expectations, or does it introduce a new set of pressures?

In wrapping up, the episode definitely brought up more questions than gave answers. However existentialism teaches us that the journey is as important as the destination, and urges us to find meaning in the midst of life’s uncertainties. Adding regular contemplation and free time, improves balance between introspection and engagement with the external world, leaving us with a newfound appreciation for the questions that shape our existence. 

As the podcast unfolds, it becomes evident that existentialism isn’t confined to the pages of philosophy textbooks—it’s a living, breathing force that influences every aspect of our lives, from the toothpaste we choose to the very essence of who we are.

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