The Stoic within us

The only true power we have in the world is that which we command, of ourselves and our reactions to the world.

How to nurture the Stoic within you? Someone cuts you off in traffic, or steals a cab, or cuts in queue, or calls you out online, or sends you a baseless, accusatory text or email or even accosts you verbally — all of these are affronts to our sensibilities. How we handle them is our choice. And at times, I find, my reactions are not those that I, later on, realize were the most optimal for the situation. They were not Stoic enough.

Situations like those above trigger reactions. Being animals first, and cognizant, critically thinking humans second, we react in ways that may be hardwired into our physiology. Someone smacks your finger with a hammer, you react with anger. Someone disparages you personally or belittles your ideas, you may react with hurtful feelings or lash out with aggression, depending on your assailant and the degree of attack.

Fighting these reactions, the innate, raw emotions, often driven by hormonal release, is tough. But the Stoic must try, right?

I recently entered into a regrettable discussion online with someone who’s beliefs I apparently contested with a whacky idea of mine. They reacted with animosity and a superior attitude, scornfully discounting the idea. The Stoic within me was no where to be found. And so it went, neither of us finding our inner Stoic, each with an apparent dog in the shallow, meaningless fight. Isn’t that the way of things? Escalation of contention begets more and more tension, more angst. Neither backing down, neither willing to adopt civility,  as if, to take a step back is to accede the argument?

Humans! Can’t live with them, can’t live without.

[Thought: Does marijuana reduce the perceptions of threat and therefore elevate the concept of being Stoic? Did the ancient Greek philosophers imbibe, and did it help them elevate their spirits, help them find their inner Stoic?]

Regardless, here’s to becoming more of a Stoic in 2018.



9 thoughts on “The Stoic within us

  1. I am known for my ability to diffuse an online escalation with wit or tactful acquiescence, but have been known to lose my cool a time or two. One such instance was last Sunday, I believe that would be the 3rd. A pair of friends were trolling my FB account, defending their orange god. When reason failed them, they descended to personal smites and mocking “tones” (for lack of a better term), much like their hero-in-chief. This is not unusual, but I was not in the mood. My stoic slipped. I bit back. Though others have told me I did so gently enough, I still felt I was not my choice self.

    To 2018, then, and a better philosopher’s mind. And to the hope that fate itself will silence our critics well enough that we don’t have to. 😉 🍻

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I wonder if any argument between two people is actually three arguments. The first is stated, the last two are those held within our minds as we argue (or reason out) the other persons evidence. A productive “argument” is one where all three arguments are active and flowing. An unproductive one is where at least one of the minds refuses to allow an internal discussion to occur.
    Further, how are these two types of arguments different or similar, I wonder?


  3. Those cats also gave us the Canons of Rhetoric and the basis for argument. Unfortunately “I’m right and you’re not” wasn’t a classic format. Today it is ubiquitous. But I suppose Stoicism was a good response to people who live and drive with their middle finger cocked…

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  4. What a great subject.
    I make an easy living helping women slow their crazy-hot, instant reaction, temper and helping men not be angry when the women in their life live on the very edge of destruction with their complete lack of self control. (the word ‘living’ loosely defined.)

    In the last 15 years there has been an enormous surge in men who react to life with the worst of female coping strategies and a much larger surge of men who no longer respond with mature male coping strategies when living ‘normal’ life and/or discourage, any form of real-life understanding.

    Amazing difference when a person BARELY applies the ideas of slow reaction to perceived hostility or ANY other hot-button issue. (being stoic!)

    I really think you are on to something pal.
    P.S. this reply includes hot-button ideas so I will not be offended if you choose to delete it.
    Just another 2 cents. *ding ding*

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Stoic? You live with my wife and you’ll quickly learn not to react to any vicious attack! Lol! It’s true, and sad. What’s more, in 2018 when recreation MJ becomes legal in CA…that’s gonna help a lot! LOL! Her name is Akira…of course…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I find this fascinating. Particularly how some of us (yes, especially me) can become exceedingly aggressive. Not long ago I was in a discussion with a colleague regarding the dating of a textile which ended with me saying appalling things about his country of origin and blaming the rise of the FN in France on him *personally*, and he ended up saying things about my sexual orientation. Bad, bad, bad. I think it’s more of a male characteristic. The instinct of fighting for survival (mal)adapted to modern life?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For sure, it takes two to argue. And I know that testosterone is the aggression hormone, which would put males at a disadvantage to rational discussion at heightened intensity. And maybe our sensibilities are rubbed raw lately, by economics, religion, politics, society and technology, putting us on edge (or closer to it). I suspect the conditions may worsen before all of us adopt a calmer repose (if ever).

      Liked by 1 person

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