When a person is uncomfortably anxious, things matter a lot. Often a multitude of external elements of a person’s assumed life take on extraordinary importance and we assign considerable weight to how things work out for us. Anxiety is fear. It is also hope. We hope that certain things will happen for us, but we fear that they won’t. Fear and hope are opposite sides of the same coin. When we are anxious, our sense of well-being is dependent on external events over which we have little capacity to affect.
With depression, it would appear that, indeed, nothing matters. But if we look with a finer eye, we can see that the depressed person has come to believe that not only does nothing matter, but that she doesn’t matter.
In fact, for a depressed person, everything has mattered greatly and a profound judgment has been rendered that life is not worth living. Depression, therefore, is the predictable outcome of anxiety. Since we have identified our happiness on the outcome of certain external events, we become depressed when they don’t happen our “needs” become unfulfilled. A person may even become depressed when things do work out for them, because beneath the veil of hope lies a deeper belief in one’s inadequacy, insufficiency, and unlovability or worthlessness. This is, what I call, the invalidation triad.
The external world has become unbearable because it has mattered so much. She has failed at this life. Viewed in this way high anxiety can be seen as a phase prior to deep depression. They are a single process. Both impose a very high degree of importance to the external world as it is perceived by the senses and evaluated by the mind.
Anytime we are tied in knots by our dependency on the external world we risk both anxiety and depression. We hope that “things” turn out well for us – But we fear that things won’t. We see that the quality of our life depends, utterly, on our getting the breaks and things in the external world.
We can see how profoundly powerless we seem to be when our lives are lived in this way. Our weak selves seem to be pitted against a mighty and often threatening world. How scary this life must be.
This is the life of living identified with the invalidation triad. It is a desperate life, full of drama, floating on a sea of hope already churned heavily by the storms that gather at the horizon. Anytime we are identified with the invalidation triad, we will reach out to an external world to save us from the disaster that that threatens us on all sides.
We are like a person treading water in a dangerous sea – always scrambling for a lifesaver to drift our way. Whether it be anxiety or depression (the proverbial Scylla and Charybdis of the human psychology), there is a normative belief operating that compels us to believe that a finely selected set of external elements in the world matter a lot to us. Anytime this belief is prominent, and let’s be honest with ourselves – it is true for most of us, we will live our lives in fear and anxiety. When we live our life this way we will never have the opportunity to express our authentic self. This is the life of the invalidation triad.
What would it be like to live a life where, literally, nothing mattered?
Try it out and see for yourself. Let’s say that I’m walking down a street and see someone grabs another person’s purse. What happens then? If it is at all reasonable, I would intervene and try to help!
You then ask, “well, if nothing mattered, why do anything?” That certainly sounds like a reasonable question, but is it true? When I say live your life as if nothing matters, what that means is that we stop believing the many voices in our mind that tell us what matters and that generate and sustain the toxic fear that governs our everyday existence. Instead, when nothing matters, we live in the immediacy of the present moment. Thus, when I see the woman’s purse taken away from her, I intervene, if it is, at all, possible and try to help. If nothing else, I offer my assistance after the crime has taken place.
When we live life as if nothing matters, we are true to our own self and not to the mass of fear-based thoughts the circulate in our consciousness. We are, finally, true to ourselves.
We find the strength and loving power that lives in the core of our authentic being.
This is Liberation.