“Depression isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’ve been strong for too long.”
This is one of the most popular quotes on depression but it has me wondering, what does it really mean to be strong?
Culturally, strength is often associated with size, power, and aggression. But the concept of being strong in the face of depression has nothing to do with any of those. It is entirely an internal battle. One voice in your head says you’re worthless, and the other says you’re awesome. I would say that many people view strength here as carrying on with daily living even as the negative voice starts to completely drown out the positive.
Another purpose of this quote is to address the idea that people who are much less affected by adversity are much stronger than those who respond with anxiety and fear. The truth is that there are internal factors at play in every individual that no one can really understand. If that apparent strong individual had to listen to a persistent internal negative voice for 15 years they probably would not appear so resilient. But does that mean strength is the absence of negative self talk?
Perhaps, those that appear strong have just never been forced to discover the true depth of their strength.
So then what exactly is the depth of true strength? It can not be that unending desire to reinforce the positive in opposition to all of the negative. Yes it may work for a while but it seems like so much effort, especially for the one who is already in a weakened state. But in the realm of duality there is one very relevant, eternal truth at play. The idea of good creates the idea of bad, right creates wrong, happiness creates sadness. If you want to get rid of the negative voice forever, you also need to lose the positive voice.
This does not in any way mean giving up. But it is the beginning of a spiritual transformation. It is the realization that whatever your mind says is, for lack of a better word, horseshit. But you are not meant to stop your mind from thinking. You are simply meant to stop giving it authority.
When I observe the most spiritually transformed individuals on the planet they appear to be immune to the debilitating effects of depression, anxiety, & fear. Or in many cases it was the intolerable suffering from these conditions that created their transformation. And they didn’t achieve this state through any kind of superior strength. They simply took a step back from the fight and saw it all as just a play of the mind.
Could it be true that being strong actually causes depression?
If your strength response to a negative thought, is a more powerful positive thought, then this quickly turns into a runaway train of a stronger negative thought. So the next time someone tells you to stay strong in the face of suffering, smile at the beauty of their intent but know in your heart that strength is not the way. Instead stay quietly present in your belief that whatever your mind says has no authority over the definition of who you truly are. Your true strength appears when you offer no resistance to any thought that your mind creates.