Find The Space

Think about the last time that someone made you upset. What did they say? What did they do? Now think back: How did you react? What did you say? What did you feel?

Now think about the situation another way: If, when that provocation came, you had given yourself space to pause, could you have controlled your reaction? Could you have stayed sober and calm in the face of their hysterics and yelling? Could you have kept your head about you?

Marcus Aurelius said, “You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Viktor Frankl talked about how between stimulus and response, we have space, and in that space, we determine not just our response, but who we are.

What we’re doing here is trying to train ourselves to do that. All this reading, this writing, this stepping back and reflecting on our patterns of behavior–it’s for a purpose. It’s to improve that default response. So that while others give themselves over to their emotions, we can keep any destructive emotions in check. As they freak out, we can calm down. That’s the whole point of Stoicism: to restore the power over your mind to the only person who ought to have it—you.

P.S. This was originally sent on May 16th, 2019. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism. 


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