“If it concerns anything that lies outside of your control, teach yourself not to worry about it.” – Epictetus
The teachings of Epictetus are very heavy in recommending we focus our energy only on the things that lie within our control. In this particular passage the thing that jumped out is that he reminds us that we need to teach ourselves not to worry about the things we have no control over. This reminds us that we aren’t going to flip a switch and suddenly not be distracted or bothered by the things that are not under our control. We have to train ourselves.
This also means that some days we will struggle to maintain the discipline it takes to stay focused on what we can control. Accepting this fact is not the same thing as excusing the behavior. Knowing that our brains are going to fail us and start to focus on the external events and situations we have no control over while simultaneously ignoring the things we can control and improve on is not the same thing as allowing it to happen. Preparing for these moments allows us to see them coming and to remind ourselves to stay on the path that we’ve chosen.
So when we have a few hours, a day, even a week where we struggle to keep the discipline of focusing on things we control on track, acknowledge it and move back on the path.
virtus fortis vocat