Here’s an Important Power You Have

The ask is just an ask, you know.

Whether they’re asking you to pass the salt or asking you for a hundred thousand dollar loan, whether they’re asking you what you weigh or if you can come in and work on Sunday, the ask is just the ask.

We decide that it’s offensive or presumptuous or rude. 

That’s what Epictetus was saying when he observed that it’s not events that upset us, but our judgement about events. The request is objective—just words coming out of someone’s mouth. The opinion that it’s objectionable is just that. Your opinion. 

We have to remember that we hold this power. We don’t need to get upset. We don’t need to be taken apart. We just need to realize that all someone has done is utter some words at us, and that we are free to ignore them, grant the request, or politely explain why we’re not interested. 

Epictetus said that when we get offended—when we get upset and think, “How dare they?” or “Wow, that’s a huge imposition they just tried to foist on me”—we are complicit. We have chosen to be upset. We have chosen to hear or read the request that way. 

We could have just let it go. We could have seen it for what it was—simply an ask. And then moved on. We have that power. We choose whether we exercise it or not.

P.S. This was originally sent on January 9, 2019. Sign up today for the Daily Stoic’s email and get our popular free 7-day course on Stoicism.