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freedom

How To Be More Assertive


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“You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire” 
Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Photo by Mika Matin on Unsplash

Being at the cause means that you are an active role in life, a contributor, an actor, a fighter in the ring, the spectated not the spectator. It means to take responsibility for your actions and your desires. Whereas being the effect means that you are a passive entity that is going to be tossed about like the ping pong ball. This is the fundamental difference between the person that is truly living and the passerby of life.

Everything happens at the moment, we remember the past, we predict the future, but every action happens at the level of now. In order for you to become the cause, you need to understand that to be the cause you need to act and to do and to contribute and to talk and to be the spark that makes things happen. All of these things can only happen in the present moment and the only thing that you can really control in the present moment is your behavior. Being at the cause simply means that you are going to take control of your behavior and responsibility for what you want in life. Specifically, you are going to control your behavior in a way that is in harmony with your desires, not tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow, but right now.

Now, let’s talk a bit about those desires and their place in Stoic philosophy.

Desires, the indifferents

The desires can be called indifferents as well. The indifferents are all those things that lie beyond the realm of your control. Such as fortunes and cars, or fame. Money is an indifferent. We can influence our behavior to have more of it but we do not have absolute control in comparison to our attitudes and behavior. Should we disregard it because we cannot control it then?

No, it’s better to have a couple of bucks in the bank than to have none obviously, it’s better to be healthy than sick But nevertheless, none of them are more important than your character. Let me give you an example. 

If someone asked you to give you any amount of money for your son, would you trade him? Let’s assume not, I hope not. 

The point I want to make is that of category, your son is simply not in the same category of money, he is far more valuable, it’s the same with character and virtue. But rather, if they give you the same money for an old chair, well that is different, it’s a different category.

These are the indifferents, there are preferred indifferents, such as health, and there are dispreferred indifferents, such as sickness. It’s better to have one over the other, but in the end, they don’t rule over you, they don’t affect you, in all sense, you affect them because your highest good is character and that is always within your grasp. 

How being the cause works

If you value your character above anything else, you are going to become a cause in the world naturally.

To be the cause you have to own yourself. 

Knowing that there is no higher value than owning yourself, nothing above it. Just like the example of the categories I just gave you, you would not trade anything for your control and your virtue. 

With this knowledge in mind, it’s time to act. What is within your desires that you would prefer? What would you want to get and that you’d stop acting as immortal thinking that you have all the time of the world to do it when in reality you could die today? Go after it now.

Whether you get what you want or not is not the issue here for you to become the cause.

The game consists not in whether you fulfill your desires or not, it consists on whether you are able to become free of them and because of this gained freedom, stop being afraid already of whether you get them or not and actually get to work on what’s really important, which is your behavior and your focus on the process. 

Self-control, focus on the process and the active pursuit of what you want without being attached to the outcome is winning the game of life. You can do that right now, you don’t need anything else other than what you already have.

You know why? Because you are the cause, not the effect.

a great complement to this read: Why And How To Focus On The Present Moment

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I’m always open to suggestions and am happy to answer any questions. stoicanswers@gmail.com

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Conquering Fears, freedom

One Simple Trick To Be Powerful, NOW


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“There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power or our will. ” 
― Epictetus

Unhappiness comes from not being able to tell what’s your problem and what is not your problem. Peace of mind comes once you are able to make the distinction and act accordingly.

It’s the famous ‘focus on the things that are under your control’ Stoic precept. It’s easy, right? But not so much, sometimes I kept forgetting this lesson and couldn’t really apply it to my day to day life. I felt somehow stuck and needed an easier technique to practice. I found it. I recently read “The seven habits of highly effective people” by Stephen Covey

Stephen Covey’s circle of influence and circle of concern, which basically is the same idea of control from Epictetus, but frankly, better to understand and more applicable to daily life.

The two circles: Influence and Concern

These two circles represent the things that are under your control and the things that are not.

Concern

Within your circle of concern, you’ll find the many things that you care about but that is not under your control. Such as the decisions your president makes or not and whether your friend will marry the girl you know is going to cheat on him. Whether you are going to get that promotion or not, and whether you are going to be able to make it on time with all the damn traffic. You have no control over this circle and although you might care about what happens here, you really have no choice but to stop caring. The more time you spent on this circle, the more you empower what’s in it. You should never spend even one second of your time preoccupying yourself about what happens or does not in here. Instead…

Influence

Focus on your circle of influence. Your circle of influence is your circle of control. It represents all the things that you can actually do something about. Such as having a deep, personal conversation with your friend about what you think is best for him or preparing a killer resume for the new job you want.

In reality, you have a lot of power, but if your focus is placed mainly in your circle of concern, you will not be even able to consider the options you have in your circle of influence, which quite frankly, once you make the switch, ARE A LOT.

Focusing on your influence, that is, in the things that are under your control and nothing more, will guarantee a more effective, happy, and peaceful life.

Now, how to go about this?

Know the difference.

Once you’re finished reading this, think about where you are directing your attention. You need to take control of your attention and focus it on your circle of influence, it’s simple, but not easy. Our heads are constantly bugging us with the circle of concern, this requires practice.

Some examples.

If someone is having a hard time at work and is constantly complaining. Categorize it. Is it within your circle of influence or concern? Concern right? Discard it. Now, reframe, what can I do instead?

Putting some music and relying on yourself for self-amusement? That’s inside your influence circle. Work there.

Categorize everything. Place your attention in your circle of influence.

You’ll be amazed by how much unnecessary bullshit we concern ourselves with.

But, fortunately, there is a way out. Focusing on the things that you can control, that is, your circle of influence.

“Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.” 
― Epictetus

a great complement to this read: Are You A Pretender?

Subscribe and receive the Askesis ebook to further develop your practice of stoicism.

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I’m always open to suggestions and am happy to answer any questions. stoicanswers@gmail.com