Fear, you can smell it all around us, it stenches.
The media is doing one hell of a job in keeping the stench as fetid as it can be, aren’t they? Feeding on it just like the dementors from Harry Potter, sucking the living soul of everyone watching them.
This fear is not unfounded, of course, the thought of a brother, a sister, or your parents dying is certainly not pretty. Precautions need to be taken, being oblivious to it is just stupid, and ignorant.
But allowing yourself to be driven by the masses panic is just as ignorant as it is stupid. Fear will kill you if you don’t control it.
Unrestrained fear is a world of possibilities. All the things that could go wrong, Pff, they are quite a lot. But what about the things that are most likely to go wrong? Could you do something about them?
Bear in mind that your brain serves not only to tell you how bad shit can get (it is very good at doing that) but it also serves you as a problem solver. You don’t just want the shit-storm predictor part of it, you want them bought.
When the only thing on your brain is unquestioned fear. It gets really hard to deal with reality in the most effective manner. You’re not able to see things as they are, but as your head is showing them through the lenses of fear.
Fear can always be unmasked.
OK, so if this thing that I fear so much, actually happened, what would it actually be like? What would I have to do? Then you’d ask: Is there anything impeding me from acting forthrightly and with courage? The answer is no.
With this, you’ll see that the thing that you feared so much, is not as scary as it was with unrestrained fear. Plus, it can be handled, and you’re already preparing yourself for the worst.
What about the worst type of fate? What about dying?
Yeah, this is certainly hard to think about. But it is something for which you need to be ready as well, for it will happen. More than running away from it, the stoics advice to prepare for it, and when the moment comes, go into it willingly as if you were going with an old friend.
“Oh,” say you, “those stories have been droned to death in all the schools; pretty soon, when you reach the topic ‘On Despising Death,’ you will be telling me about Cato.” But why should I not tell you about Cato, how he read Plato’s book on that last glorious night, with a sword laid at his pillow? He had provided these two requisites for his last moments, — the first, that he might have the will to die, and the second, that he might have the means. So he put his affairs in order, — as well as one could put in order that which was ruined and near its end, — and thought that he ought to see to it that no one should have the power to slay or the good for- tune to save Cato. Drawing the sword, — which he had kept unstained from all bloodshed against the final day, he cried:
“Fortune, you have accomplished nothing by resisting all my endeavors. I have fought, till now, for my country’s freedom, and not for my own, I did not strive so doggedly to be free, but only to live among the free. Now, since the affairs of mankind are beyond hope, let Cato be withdrawn to safety.”
So saying, he inflicted a mortal wound upon his body. After the physicians had bound it up, Cato had less blood and less strength, but no less courage; angered now not only at Caesar but also at himself, he rallied his unarmed hands against his wound, and expelled, rather than dismissed, that noble soul which had been so defiant of all worldly power. — Seneca
Unmask your fears
Don’t let yourself be conquered by fear. Instead, conquer it yourself. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that could happen and then prepare mentally and with whatever means you have at your disposition, against it. You’ll see that once you gain control over yourself, you’ll gain control over the world as well, and fear will play but a minor role in your life.
Thanks for reading,
Two more things.
I’m begging you to do a media fast. There are two ways how you can see the news, to inform yourself, or to entertain yourself. If you just want to inform yourself you don’t need more than 30 minutes a day. Just do that.
Watch this video:
Subscribe and receive the Askesis ebook to further develop your practice of stoicism.
Connect with Stoic Answers
Special thanks to my Patreons:
You can become a Patreon as well and access exclusive content and a peek on what’s going on in Stoic Answers. Click below and check it out.