React consciously by thinking things through
- Remind yourself that it’s not the event that hurts you but your judgment about it.
It’s never the world’s happenings that hurt us. How we think about these situations makes us feel worse. Just try this next time something seemingly unfair happens: don’t whine, moan, or complain.
- Think before reacting.
Let’s put our impressions to the test. Is this really so bad? What happened exactly? Do I want to go down that path? Why do I feel such a strong urge within me? What do I know about this person? Thinking helps us resist our unhelpful impulses to react instinctively and immediately.
- Look at things objectively.
When you're challenged in life and feel stuck, try to look at your situation objectively. Turn it inside out, strip it naked, and explain it in simple terms. As real as possible. What does it look like? What parts does it consist of? How long will it last?
- Let the Stoic values guide you.
Instead of letting the uncontrollable world outside consume you, dig deep into your values. No matter what happens, stick to values of tranquility, patience, kindness, acceptance, justice, grit, and self-discipline.
- If you feel anger, turn it upside down.
When you’re angry, take steps to turn anger’s indications into their opposites: Force yourself to relax your face, take a deep breath, soften your voice, and slow your pace of walking—your internal state will soon resemble your external, relaxed state.
- If you are afraid, think about it rationally.
The common way to deal with fear is to hide from it and think of something else. This is probably the worst technique of all. Fear grows by not being looked at. The proper way to deal with what we fear is thinking about it rationally, calmly, and often—until it becomes familiar. You’ll get bored with what you once feared, and your worries will disappear. By confronting your fears, whether in imagination or reality, you reduce the stress caused by those fears.
- If you feel like a victim, remember that your situation also happened to others before.
Before you take things too seriously, remind yourself that things that happen to you are not special. Hundreds have experienced it before you, and hundreds more will once you’re gone.
- Lower your expectations to prevent yourself from being disappointed
We get angry, sad, or disappointed because reality doesn’t meet our expectations. We get surprised because things don’t go as planned. Let’s mentally rehearse the worst-case scenario and see how a situation can unfold contrary to our hopes and expectations—and we’ll be at peace with whatever happens.
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