Using time-tested wisdom to face our inner fears.
The Art of Stoicism
Stoicism’s school of thought has seen a resurgence in modern culture. It’s been unlikely, and in some ways surprising, reboot in peoples 21st century way of life.
The Stoic mindset and way of meditation have become commonly used in corporate and business culture, especially with the self-help craze that we’re experiencing in our society.
So what can ideas over 2,000 years old from Stoic philosophers such as Seneca the Younger and Emperor Marcus Aurelius teach us about fear?
Learning to curb our anxiety, control our emotions, and face our fears.
For the Stoics, the ups and downs in life are inevitable. We will all encounter life events outside of our control. What can we control? Our emotional reactions to the uncontrollable turmoil.
The Stoics saw little use in becoming overly emotional to life’s unavoidable conflict. They tell us to remain courageous in the face of life’s suffering.
Where does this anxiety originate from in the minds of the Stoics? Having too high of hopes and to great of fears about what is to come.
They saw this as unnecessary stress in the uncontrollable world.
This might bring to mind situations in your life where your feeling of anxiousness becomes overwhelming. Maybe you’re thinking about nailing that interview at your dream job or finally quitting your job in pursuit of your dream career.
These scenarios bring about emotional feelings of hope and cause high levels of anxiety — understandably so!
What would the Stoics say?
Let go of those high hopes. Hoping doesn’t get you that dream job. Hoping doesn’t make your dreams a reality. Facing those deep fears of failure head-on, embracing them even, can clear your mind for action.
Facing your fears will make your dreams a reality.
Essentially, face what’s in your control. Imagine the mental energy we spend worrying about things we cannot control. Worrying about what people think, what they tweet, what they like or say, worrying about the future, worrying about the past. Thinking about these things in life bring about the emotions of hope and regret — preparing to leave you with an anxious feeling of disappointment.
Stoicism says that we should wipe those from our minds. Act solely in the present, how can you alter your actions?
“Show me a man who is not a slave, one is a slave to lust, another to greed, another to ambition, and all men are slaves to fear.” — Seneca
See, the Stoic philosophers look to teach us to think beyond our emotional instability — free us from mental enslavement, free us from the turbulence of our emotions.
They teach us to live life with serenity in each moment.
“Make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest as it happens.” — Epictetus
Our reaction to fear is in our control. We all face losing loved ones, facing financial ruin at the hands of others, rejection, and heartbreak.
The Stoics tell us not to go through life hoping we don’t experience that pain again — that’s living in fear. They ask us to make it our responsibility to face those intense moments in life, embrace them, and you might find yourself loving fear.