Two Remedies For Your Existential Angst

When I feel overwhelmed by the local and international news and anxious over the climate crisis, one of my solutions is to buy more books. And get more therapies. (And write another blog post.) I spend money on books and therapy like others spend their bucks on sailboats, jewelry, and mansions in Beverly Hills. In fact, because I did not have children, I can afford to spend my non-kids’ Harvard educations on books and therapies. That is a heck of a lot of books. And a lot of acupuncture, psychotherapy, massage, astrology, and energy intuitive work (aka: therapies). Right?

Just today, I received a new stack.

They came from my favorite Oregon independent bookstore. Under the Sky We Make by Kimberly Nicholas is subtitled How to Be Human in a Warming World. The author is “a leading global sustainability scientist.” Then there is Sensitive is the New Strong: The Power of Empaths in an Increasingly Harsh World by Anita Moorjani. Self-explanatory. My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem is described as “…a call to action for Americans to recognize that racism is not only about the head, but also about the body…” Whole Brain Living: The Anatomy of Choice and the Four Characters That Drive Our Life by Jill Bolte Taylor, recommended by a client. And finally, Love After 50, by journalist Francine Russo.

(photo by joelvalve, Unsplash)

Mind you, I haven’t read these books yet, so I am not recommending them. Just letting you know these are my latest angst reducers. (not to mention the satisfaction of supporting my independent bookstore) You might notice there are no novels listed. I do love a good novel or a great memoir like Suleika Jaouad’s Between Two Kingdoms. It is just that I read quite a bit more nonfiction and these are my most recent acquisitions.

Of course, if you actually have kids and you need to save for their actual college educations, you can still soothe yourself with trips to your library. And if you are lonely in your angstification, join a Silent Book Club and read with other existential angsters, otherwise known as rainforest-minders. I hear some of these groups are starting to meet again in person.

What about therapies?

When it comes to therapies, there really ought to be a library, too. Right? You could go to your library and borrow a therapist for three weeks for free. But then, how would I earn a living? (Note: There are often lower cost psychotherapies at agencies and universities. Many good therapists have sliding scales and they ought to all provide some pro bono services. It doesn’t hurt to ask. You could tell them I said it would be an easy way for them to contribute to improving life on planet earth.) Anyway, my point is that working on yourself via various therapies will not only soothe your worried soul, but it can also give you the healing, confidence, hope, and direction you need to take action around the existential issues we are all facing today and that are angsting you out.

Isn’t that handy?


To my bloggEEs: Tell us what books you are reading these days. What therapies are you trying? What soothes your existential angst? Thank you for being here and being part of my existential solution. Much love to you.

(Another note: I just wrote an article on gifted clients in therapy for an online website for therapists. So when you do find the right psychotherapist or acupuncturist or bodyworker or healer or astrologer, hand them this article. And speaking of books, if you haven’t read mine yet, whatcha waitin’ fer?)

Author: Paula Prober

I’m a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice based in Eugene, Oregon. I specialize in international consulting with gifted adults and parents of gifted children. I’ve been a teacher and an adjunct instructor at the University of Oregon and a frequent guest presenter at Oregon State University and Pacific University. I’ve written articles on giftedness for the Eugene Register-Guard, the Psychotherapy Networker, Advanced Development Journal and online for psychotherapy dot net, Rebelle Society, Thrive, Introvert Dear, and Highly Sensitive Refuge. My first book, Your Rainforest Mind: A Guide to the Well-Being of Gifted Adults and Youth, is a collection of case studies of gifted clients along with many strategies and resources for gifted adults and teens. My second book, Journey Into Your Rainforest Mind: A Field Guide for Gifted Adults and Teens, Book Lovers, Overthinkers, Geeks, Sensitives, Brainiacs, Intuitives, Procrastinators, and Perfectionists is a collection of my most popular blog posts along with writing exercises for self-exploration and insight.

18 responses to “Two Remedies For Your Existential Angst”

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  1. laledavidson Avatar

    I do a lot of buying but not as much reading as I should. Trying to figure out how to fit more reading into a busy life. Love good novelistic video series too much, I guess. But as a writer, I msut read more!!!!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Making the time can be challenging. Thank you for sharing, laledavidson.

  2. Being Interested In, Oh, Everything — The Gifted Multipotentialite Booknerd | Your Rainforest Mind

    […] would have gathered my own set of deliciousness but I had just received a stack from Powells bookstore so I restrained myself. Well, except for the three books Jade mentioned were great for […]

  3. renovatio06 Avatar

    True, Paula, re: playing music (when I don’t put any pressure on myself😊😇 And thx for remembering that about me😘). Thanks for empathizing (re: therapy), I do appreciate it! (and I wish I lived where you practice when it comes to that.)

  4. renovatio06 Avatar

    Haven’t found much else or better than keeping my overactive mind engaged as much as possible, preferably with topics that don’t exacerbate the existential angst (and as for the latter, I’d include the ever so often recurring horror and ensuing panic attack over being forced into being conscious in the first place, try this on for size as far as existential angst…; at least, I don’t wake from night horrors for that reasons much any more, so I guess, I made some progress…? That’s your field of expertise, I’m going to have to leave it to you to say 🙂 ). In fact, I wish I could say better things about therapy, but… haven’t lucked out all that much in that regard and where I live (I’m currently seeing a therapist lady, whom I think is genuinely dedicated to helping me, so that’s good; the other – male – therapist with a trauma focus – and for real this time [i.e. his knowledge and understanding of trauma], not just on paper… – I’m about to quit, I suppose. It all boils down to managing symptoms and oh, dear god, if I hadn’t been doing that for all those decades and all along, I don’t even want to begin to think where I’d be…; and frankly speaking, I can’t seem to shake off that grinding feeling that people who were fortunate to find a better environment somehow get to take advantage of my rather shi**y history and dramatic start into this questionable existence…pardon my French).

    Afraid I’d have to say this from where I’m standing right now: At the end of the day, I’d better found acceptance with “it’s just the same old me having to deal with … being me”, to put it in a nutshell (and find comfort in the fact that many other individuals all suffer in their own way and have and are surviving in similar ways). I like the idea with the pro bono therapists in training, but afraid all this comes too late. (and I’m realizing just now that I’m digressing from answering your question… how’s that for proof of the RFM ? 😉 Going off on almost every tangent that presents itsself, LOL).

    Yes, non-fiction – books or articles, more of the latter as of now – for digging deeper in hopes of finding practical, appliccable day-to-day methods and routines that keep me closer to homeostasis (the latter, I may have only experienced a few fleeting times in life and when I did there was this “Aha” moment of thinking to myself “THIS is the place where everbody else and their dog are coming from when they speak of the comfort zone, aha, THAT must be it then!). Movies for relaxing my mind and vicariously living the lives of fictional characters (as not much life happens in my own situation including the absence of exuberance, which still fed me quite some earlier in life)

    The most important, nourishing resources are missing from my life at the moment and I find myself subject to recurring crisis mode in almost predictable chunks of time (although I never readily succumb, quite the opposite, but have grown so tired of going uphill all the time). I’d have to move and find me a place again, where I can come into myself and be at some modicum of peace, including better sleep etc. For reasons beyond this blog and exchange, it’s not going to happen (trust me, I am the tenacious one when it comes to obstacles…). So… not sure, whether I answered this. Feels like the books that would keep me engaged don’t offer that appeal any more and it sometimes begins to feel like… having burnt every last ember I still put together from the ashes of already burnt embers. Sorry. (books did work quite well in the past, nature, always Mother Nature and still so to an extent; naw on therapy, largely).

    But… I hear you. Good to know what keeps one afloat (sincerely said, not in a sarcastic manner)

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Playing music is a good creative outlet and soothing for you, right? Sorry that therapy isn’t helping much these days, renovatio06. Thanks for sharing.

  5. fotovandenatuur Avatar

    hi, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I had a long period of not reading or have a bit of therapy. I still have a good bookshelf with these books. Now picking it up a bit by reading a book about Human Design. Really interesting so far.

    For the therapy I had a very good experience with Psychosynthese. It is known well in the Netherlands, UK and Italy, farther I m not sure.


    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thank you, Rob.

  6. ewabs2 Avatar

    I go for books as well but books can be dangerous for me, whenever I discover a new favorite author or a subject I can deep dive into I NEED all the books. my living room looks more like a library then the local library ( downside of living in a small town.)
    therapy also works, as does long walks with my dog. just being in nature is very important for me as well.
    and food, all the good food. even if my waistline is starting to protest now with the no sports covid times.

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for the additional ideas, ewabs2. 🙂

  7. hksounds Avatar

    I am reading “The Atlas of AI: Power, Politics and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence” By Kate Crawford. This is a really brilliant look at, and analysis of, what is going on under the hood, so to speak, of all the is encompassed by what we call AI. It is very well written, accessible, and crammed full of interesting information, anecdotes, current implications and historical background. Unfortunately, I can only read so much before I have to put it down for a while, as it can seem overwhelming. But it is vital for us to think about this issue and its implications for human life on this planet.

    As an antidote to that shot of vicious reality, I have started “The Double Comfort Safari Club” by Alexander McCall Smith. This is in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series. Guaranteed to make you smile.

    On the horizon looms: “The Autobiography of Mark Twain,” all three volumes; “Bonobo Handshake” by Vanessa Woods, who co-authored “The Survival of the Friendliest” with Brian Hare which I read a month or so ago, and would recommend to anyone interested in how we, as a species, might resolve the mess we are in. Others upcoming are “Middlemarch”: by Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot) and “A Suitable Boy” by Vikram Seth.

    I just finished reading Carl Hiaasen’s “Bad Monkey.” It made me laugh out loud and sometimes you/I need that.

    With my tutees, I am reading “The Life of Pi” by Yann Martel and “The Elephant Whisperer” by Lawrence Anthony, both wonderful books I have previously read.

    If you like biography and autobiography, I would absolutely recommend “Dreaming of Lions: My Life in the Wild Places” by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas. What an astonishing life!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for your recommendations, hksounds!!

  8. Deborah Nam-Krane Avatar
    Deborah Nam-Krane

    This *might* explain why I have ten books out of the library and am waiting for, you know, another ten 🙂

  9. EV Williams Avatar
    EV Williams

    Quiet and Your Rainforest Mind: the 2 books that changed my life, no joke.

    But currently reading? The Body Keeps The Score, NeuroTribes, Chronic. It Didn’t Start With You.

    And since I’m an acupuncturist (speaking of acupuncture) there are some Chinese medicine books in the mix too!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks, Ev. Hurray for acupuncture! 🙂

    2. renovatio06 Avatar

      “NeuroTribes” sounds interesting. Might have to go and find it myself. Any early insights to share, EV?

  10. Robin Heinen Avatar
    Robin Heinen

    I wholeheartedly agree with all of the above. Books are amazing to ease the mind. I also lean more towards non-fiction, I guess that is the academic in me. However, I do think that novels are even better for sucking you up into the story (and out of your mind). I should read more fiction. And well, therapy, probably therapy would be good for every individual :).

    I only recently found out, through my own therapy, about giftedness and HSPs. I learned a lot from your books, and they have in fact placed my anxieties in another light. I have recommended your work to my own therapist, and he was very appreciative too.

    Keep up the great work!

    1. Paula Prober Avatar
      Paula Prober

      Thanks for telling your therapist about my work, Robin. Glad you have found someone!

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