Today is Independence Day in America. Happy 237th to this great country. Hey, are you depressed? Are you enduring oppressive fear and anxiety? Why not make it a personal “Independence Day” (from self)?
July 4th – Independence Day – is super-special in the good ‘ole US of A. Fireworks, parades, family reunions, ballgames, and carnivals abound. A spirit of celebration is in the air.
Are you depressed? Perhaps you’re in the midst of overwhelming and terrifying fear and anxiety. Maybe both! I wonder if you could take the cue from America’s Independence Day and establish today as a personal “Independence Day” – from self.
Okay, can’t resist – time for a smidge of history. You may know, the legal separation of the Thirteen Colonies from Great Britain actually occurred on July 2, 1776. That’s when the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence that was proposed a month earlier by Virginia’s Richard Henry Lee. It was this resolution that declared independence from Great Britain.
After the vote for independence, Congress turned its attention to the Declaration of Independence – a written statement explaining the independence decision. After debate and revision of the wording, the Second Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
But now to that matter of personal independence. If you’re enduring depression and/or anxiety you’re likely deeply tuned-in to your symptoms. I’d be willing to bet they dominate your thinking, feelings, behavior – your life. And if this domination has gone on for a lengthy amount of time you may have actually become your disorder(s), the very sum of the symptoms you deal with day in and day out. I don’t think it would come as a surprise to you if I added that all too often buckets of self-hate, shame, guilt, and anger come along for the ride.
It’s a matter of self-tyranny. Tyranny being all about oppressive power.
In the face of self-tyranny, I encourage you to declare independence from the oppressive power, just as the Second Continental Congress did from Great Britain 237 years ago. Heck, why not actually draft your own declaration?
This is very much about acceptance, don’t you think? I mean, if you’re to declare independence from self-tyranny – so you can prosper and reach your full potential – you have to accept your immediate circumstances just as they are. How else would you know from who or what you’re declaring your independence?
How ’bout I lead with a personal example? If you’ve followed Chipur, you know I’ve lived with a nasty anxiety disorder darned near my entire life. ‘Course, there’s always been plenty of associated depression. For sure, there was a time when it all dominated, yes, my thinking, feelings, behavior – my life. And in time, I became my disorders.
And then one day I decided to fully accept my emotional/mental health circumstances as they were. I fully believed – still do – that the combination of my on-board-at-birth anatomy and biochemistry, coupled with developmental years environmental factors, set the stage for a lifelong leaning toward the anxious and associated low-grade mood.
When I made that decision it was, in fact, a personal declaration of independence. And that declaration has allowed me to prosper and given me a fighting chance of realizing my full potential. What’s not to like?
On this American Independence Day, I urge you to declare independence from self. And remember, before you move on to document signing you need to have taken a full accounting of yourself, accepting who it is you truly are.
I’d like to share a poem I wrote several years ago…
What can we be but ourselves
When it’s all torn down
And nothing’s left but who we truly are
Stripped to the bone
Exposed to all and self
There’s no where left to hide
No shelter from the storm
No propping scaffold
No diversion to deflect the truth
Only a direct gaze deep within
With a frightened blink of an eye
But upon unsettled earth
Unstable legs gain strength
In steadfastness and blind forward energy
In tatters amidst the rubble we come to know ourselves
And become whole
In a chance of a lifetime
Are you depressed? Oppressive fear and anxiety dominating your life? Declare your personal independence, and get on with the business of prospering and realizing potential….
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Well, I can say this. I know I have become my symptoms and they have become how I define myself. You know that, of course. We’ve been through so many angles of therapy that I’m starting to wonder if anything is going to crack open the core of unhealthy beliefs that have stubbornly lodged themselves into the middle of my mind and thinking patterns. I tell myself that all I need to do is change my thinking. There’s the problem, though. Every thought I think connects back to the problems. They are absolutely reinforced as a part of this blob of conceptions that are “me”. I need some ways to counteract the thoughts. I tried this yesterday as an experiment. It was somewhat successful I suppose. But it’s hard to challenge a lifestyle in itself. This is what my symptoms have become for me– a lifestyle. But, I really don’t want to live this way at all.