You can’t control everything

When I first heard about stoicism and its practices and philosophies, I found it interesting that I had already internalised many of the concepts, but I couldn’t recall where I learned them from. I believe that the practices of stoicism affect a lot of people without them ever having heard of them. For those who have never heard of it, in the simplest terms, stoicism is, in theory, a philosophical doctrine that conceives the mind as a remedy for the ills of life.

Life is unpredictable and bad things happen to everyone, one person more than another, but everyone has to deal (if they haven’t already) with tragic moments in their lives. This can start with small things like you wanted to do something outside and it starts to rain, up to a family member or a friend dies. In both situations, you have no say. We can’t change the weather in the short term or bring the dead person back to life. It is irreversible. It is out of our control.

If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment

Marcus Aurelius

This is true and it is actually the main philosophy of stoicism. There is an inner world (i.e., everything you can influence, such as how you react to things or your actions) and an outer world (i.e., everything you cannot control, such as how other people behave or the weather).

Another doctrine of stoicism, which later spread mainly through the german philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, is “amor fati”, which can be translated as “love of fate”. It is used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary. This way of thinking has helped me to prepare for all the situations that cannot be changed in the future and to make me aware that they will occur in any case, but it is only a question of how I will deal with them.

So the next time you catch yourself being angry or sad always ask yourself if it is within your control or not that this situation is there. If you can actively change the situation to bring your emotions from a negative to a positive state, well then act. If it’s out of your control, try to get a handle on your emotions and be positive about the future or don’t let negative events in the past define you.


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