In these articles, I explore the wide realm of Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy and delve into how our thoughts shape our inner worlds, external behaviors, and moods.

I wrote this on July 4th to carefully consider how our thoughts about freedom affects our individual and national emotions and behavior. This is not a political talk. It remains solidly in the the cognitive-behavioral realm; it is simply applied to our daily life as Americans, at least as I see it.

Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July, is the U.S. holiday commemorating the Declaration of Independence, which was ratified by the Second Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, establishing the United States of America. The Founding Fathers at the Second Continental Congress declared on July 2nd that the Thirteen Colonies were no longer subject to the crown of Britain, King George III, and were now united, free, and independent states. The Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence two days later, on July 4th. This was during the Revolutionary War against Britain, which intensified given this Declaration.

Freedom, therefore, has always woven the fabric of those calling themselves Americans. Freedom was hard-won, a matter of tough minds and stout hearts insisting with their blood that they will not be subjects to an alien monarch.

Liberty was at stake, the liberty to possess one’s own life and not have it forcibly taken away. Agency over one’s own life guaranteed liberty itself, freedom. For who is free if he does not have command over his own life? Property, also, was at stake. One may not pursue the good life or happiness if he is unable to manage his own affairs in his own way, or use his property and his person as he ought to under God, and according to the natural construction of the human being (human nature).

Freedom was about the power to live as one ought in the full dignity of humankind.

More can and should be said about the old Freedom (and it was not perfect, either). Today, however, we are a far cry from that Freedom. Today, American freedom has devolved into a demand for instant pleasure on our own terms. Freedom has become the liberty to do what I want not the power to live as I ought. It is popular to point out how the rich elite and special group identities and politicians attempt to force everyone around to conform to their whims, wills, and demands. This is worth pointing out and a terrible departure from our roots of American liberty.

It is easy to point out the faults of others, and yet more difficult to look in the mirror. How are you a mini tyrant to others in your life? We all attempt to force everyone else around us to conform to our whims, wills, and demands rather than struggling to conform ourselves to the way the world is actually designed and out of love for our neighbor. From this effort of ego stems all sorts of anger, stress, neurotic behaviors, and much more.

Freedom has devolved into an entitled attitude, the expected empowerment to insist everything except myself must change to satisfy my private desires. This is not freedom, but slavery. It is slavery to harmful passions that kill slowly over time like an accumulating toxin. It is slavery to the alien will of social and political voices who instruct us what to think about everything and rob us of how to think in a healthy, resilient way and truly free way. This slavery is mindless, not mindful. This slavery exposes the slave as an automaton of pleasure and social mimicry. It can only decay mental and emotional health as it erodes the soul.

It is no wonder that under conditions of such slavery and radical lack of self-awareness that anxiety and depression spike. This is a truly depressogenic (depression-causing) “freedom.”

Addiction and service to harmful passions is no liberty. Under these conditions, I have lost control of my life. Rather than having it forcibly taken, I gave it up by inches. My mind and behavior do not seem under my full command, and my property (money, relationships, occupation) is under partial control of an outside will that does not care about me at all. And the kicker is this: all the minor choices along the way were endorsed or even encouraged by society at large, in one way or another.

I may have fallen into hard times on the promises of false freedom. But I don’t have to stay there.

Let’s bring the same question from 1776 and apply it here-and-how. Who is our king? To whom or to what are we enslaved? Do we need a mental-emotional or spiritual Revolutionary War (so to speak) to burst the shackles of harmful passions that have lied to us about the nature of freedom?

Declare your Independence today with me. The battle will intensify, so be ready. Make the choice to say No to the alien monarch who does not have your best interest in mind. Regain the power to live as you ought under God and according to human nature.