Anxiety and desire

There are many similarities between anxiety and desire.

  • Anxiety is the strong word for something we do not want. Desire is a general word for something we do want.
  • Anxiety is based on fear, desire on pleasure.
  • Both are forward-leaning mental and emotional states involving planning, imagination, and expectation.
  • In their basic states, neither is a problem until it becomes excessive.
  • Most of the time most people know when a desire is excessive.
  • It is harder to know when anxieties are excessive, probably because they are fear-based and we instinctively use more resources to avoid danger.
  • If a desire is excessive, we can often reduce it by doing the Contemplation on Uncleanness, by contemplating what’s bad about it.
  • Anxieties can be reduced by contemplating how many of them have been wrong in the past and how little good it does to feel anxious.
  • A main job of the conscious mind is to scan the world for danger. All animals do this.
  • As semiotic, social animals, humans experience many fears in the semiotic and/or social realms.
  • We cannot avoid scanning for danger because real dangers do exist.
  • Anxieties occur when the perception of danger is disproportionate.
  • If possible, it is best not to use drugs to control anxiety.
  • Anxiety stimulates the brain and nervous system and within reasonable ranges is probably good for both. Anti-anxiety drugs dull us, though occasional usage in some situations is probably a good idea.
  • Anxiety can be rewarding when it is relieved. It feels wonderful when it goes away.
  • The far side of anxiety—when you see the oven was not on—feels good and may be a major reason many people subconsciously indulge in anxiety. Its resolution fulfills the desire to not feel that way.
  • Anxiety focuses the mind. When one anxiety is removed, another often appears.
  • As an instinct (that consciously scans for danger), anxiety when excessive can be understood as being an indulgence or “fetshization” of an instinct.
  • In this, it is somewhat similar to over indulgence in other instincts—gluttony, drunkenness, sex addiction, greed, laziness, and so on.
  • We probably fetishize instincts because it is a fairly easy thing for us to do. As semiotic animals, that is how we play, that’s what we know how to do.
  • Definitely best to avoid identifying with anything but especially fetishized instincts.
  • In Buddhist terms, identifying your transient sentience with anything is the basis of forming a self.
  • A good deal of anxiety involves fears pertaining to the self, to its stories, identity, instincts, memories, desires, and so on.
  • It is good to pay close attention to whatever is making you feel anxious and also to mildly stimulate anxious feelings when you are not anxious. This helps you see what anxiety is and how it functions in you, how it becomes excessive and why.
  • It is also good to discuss this topic with a friend because this helps us become more objective about it.
  • When we can expand the semiotic context of anything, we change it.

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