No anxious state exists apart from the illusion that the security, happiness, and wholeness you long for exists somewhere outside of you — “in a time to come.” Then why do we go on embracing anxious thoughts and feelings that do nothing but steal from us our love of life? The surprising answer to this question is the same as opening the door to a life free of anxious thoughts and feelings.
Whenever our mind imagines a pleasure — going somewhere exciting, envisioning a new relationship, or picturing ourselves more successful than we’ve been — something else comes to life within us at the same time; right alongside our newly imagined desire is born a feeling of anxiety. We’ve all sensed the presence of this disquieting state, even though we’re rarely conscious of it. At its outset, this fledgling anxiety remains largely unnoticed, and for good reason: Our mind’s eye, our attention, is completely centered on the pleasure we imagine will soon be ours.
Regardless of whatever we imagine — be this some new happiness or sense of wholeness — it isn’t real. If it were, we wouldn’t have to try and dream it into existence! A closer examination of what happens to us when we place our hopes in “a time to come” reveals how we hurt ourselves without knowing it.
It’s impossible to imagine a future wholeness without feeling, in the present moment, strangely incomplete — as though we’re missing something essential!
We’ve all sensed this disquiet each time we devise some new plan to feel “better” about ourselves. It’s a little like how much hungrier we suddenly feel when we imagine a special meal for later that day. Anxiety shadows all such expectations, as small fears tend to appear with new challenges. And, as this anxious feeling of being incomplete rises into our awareness, there comes with it a kind of pressure to hurry. We feel compelled to either pursue (or protect) what’s been imagined, or risk losing our hope for peace and happiness! The deception is complete and — bang — the trap springs shut!
In the ensuing struggle to escape our escalating concern, we leap onto the merry-go-round of whirling thoughts and feelings, hoping that getting on will get us off! What happens next is too familiar. Round and round we go, rushing through and running over anything in our way, trying in vain to reach the wholeness we’ve imagined awaits us in time.
The only reason we ever feel trapped by anxious thoughts and feelings is that we just won’t let go of the false idea that it takes time to know the strength and happiness of our original wholeness. Our unseen belief in this illusion creates the uncertain future to which we feel we must rush. And this same illusion sits behind all of the fears that stalk us as we pursue whatever we hope will complete us. For implied in the idea of always having somewhere to “get to” is the danger that if we don’t hurry up and “get there” we’ll miss out on the fulfillment we’ve imagined awaits us. But here’s the truth that sets us on the road to freedom:
Your original Self is already timeless and whole; any part of us that urges us to look for a bigger, better, or brighter sense of Self outside the present moment is both the seed of deception, as well as its bitter fruit, anxiety.
Anxious thoughts and feelings are not there to help us reach the promised land. Instead, they keep us a prisoner in the world of their empty promises. The courage to see the truth of this fact is the same as the courage we need to be free… to consciously walk away from these impostor powers, regardless of how convincing they are that we can’t live without them. After all, who clings to their captors?
(Excerpted from The Courage to Be Free by Guy Finley, Red Wheel/Weiser)
About the Author: OneJourney founder Guy Finley is the bestselling author of more than 45 books and audio albums on self-realization, including “The Secret of Letting Go,” “The Essential Laws of Fearless Living,” and his newest book “Relationship Magic: Waking Up Together.” He is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit Center for Spiritual Discovery located in southern Oregon. Guy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York and at 1440 Multiversity. Tune in every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening for Guy’s free online classes, visit www.GuyFinley.org/freeclass