Anxiety and desire…

desireAnxiety and desire are two, often conflicting, orientations to the unknown. Both are tilted toward the future. Desire implies a willingness, or a need, to engage this unknown, while anxiety suggests a fear of it. Desire takes one out of oneself, into the possibility or relationship, but it also takes one deeper into oneself. Anxiety turns one back on oneself, but only onto the self that is already known. There is nothing mysterious about the anxious state; it leaves one teetering in an untenable and all too familiar isolation. There is rarely desire without some associated anxiety. We seem to be wired to have apprehension about that which we cannot control, so in this way, the two are not really complete opposites. But desire gives one a reason to tolerate anxiety and to push through it.

Meditation did not relieve me of my anxiety so much as flesh it out. It took my anxious response to the world, about which I felt a lot of confusion and shame, and let me understand it more completely. Perhaps the best way to phrase it is to say that meditation showed me that the other side of anxiety is desire. They exist in relationship to each other, not independently. ~ Mark Epstein, Open to Desire: Embracing a Lust for Life Insights from Buddhism and Psychotherapy

More: Fear and anxiety: coping, reframing, transforming…

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