Sometimes, everyone gets a little freaked out thinking about the great unknown: death.
But some people fear it more than others.
As it turns out, there may be one trait shared by those who fear death less than others; they have a greater sense of autonomy. Autonomy, in this case, refers to the ability to express one’s authentic self and experience one’s behavior as self-initiated and freely chosen.
Living a more autonomous life may help reduce fear of death and existential dread.
A recent study by Horner and colleagues suggested that “self-reported autonomy predicts the extent of belief in symbolic immortality.”
People with greater autonomy are more confident that some symbolic part of them will live on after death and be remembered through family or socially recognized achievements.
Those who feel more in control of their own lives find it easier to protect themselves from death anxiety and, therefore, can pursue activities that help them grow and experience enhanced well-being.
So it turns out all that woke talk about consent, bodily/personal autonomy, and self-determination is useful in fighting off the specter of the Grim Reaper.