When we are young, we tend to place great expectations upon life. We tend to envision a future that is coloured by fulfilment, practically inevitable, and inviolable on all sides.
But whether this materialises or not, in our adulthood we periodically pause to examine where we are and either feel satisfied or disenchanted.
In the latter case, because things did not turn out the way our younger selves had hoped, imagined, and expected, or to confuse matters even more, that they had turned out more or less exactly as we wanted them to, only to realise it is not what it had seemed.
This can lead to feelings of despair, hopelessness, and being trapped, feelings often accompanied by such thoughts that we had invested too much time, money, and effort to get where we are now and that it is too late to make a change.
Moreover, thoughts of change are often connoted with the idea of moving “backwards,” as if life was somehow a linear progression from one point to another.
In short, a sense of purpose and meaning has been stripped from our lives. According to the existential model of psychotherapy, all psychic ills, such as anxiety and depression, as they are manifested in more or less functioning individuals, stem from the individual's continuous quest for a sustainable sense of meaning and purpose.
By the same logic, we human beings are described as essentially meaning seeking creatures; we are creators of meaning, we have a singular instinct to justify our actions, and at the bottom of these psychological drives is an awareness of our own transient existence. In other words, the fear of death and the incidental fear of obscurity.
Through psychotherapy we can explore these elements, put in place objectives for action, and find a way to rediscover meaning.