26 Jun Know Trigonometry
Is it important to you to be free from anxiety?
There’s a curious maxim that I once heard, which says that one should “know trigonometry — the shortest distance between two points isn’t always a straight line.”
In the case of being free from anxiety, this somewhat cryptic maxim is proved true. If you try to directly free yourself from anxiety, you will, alas, be teaching yourself that anxiety is a threat to be avoided; and so you will not be able to learn that anxiety is in fact safe, which is the only thing that will make you free from it; which means you will be stuck in anxiety. The goal of living a life without having anxiety is necessarily self-defeating.
A much better, more rapid way of dealing with anxiety is to learn how to live life even with anxiety. Rather than being free from anxiety, you can be free even with anxiety. This is the shortest route to your living a life that is full of meaning and not dominated by the struggles to be anxious.
This freedom is shown by the actions you take when anxiety gets triggered. If those actions show that you are freely willing to have the anxiety and let it be there, you will be training yourself that it is safe to have anxiety, and so in time you will have less of it. You’ll uncouple the anxiety from its trigger. Freedom in the face of anxiety means being willing to let it be there, and not give in to it. This is done by practicing mindfulness when the anxiety is triggered, or delusion exercises, or provoking the anxiety even further with exposure techniques; or, most simply, just labeling it and re-focusing one’s attention on the task at hand.