“Another will not damage you, unless you choose to allow them to: but when you choose to think you have been damaged then you will be.” – Epictetus
This is an important and difficult idea for us to implement in our own lives. Trying to remember that we are choosing to be hurt, offended, insulted, or demeaned by others is difficult in the moment. Especially if the other person is choosing to allow their emotions to run amok.
But that is exactly what we are doing, we are choosing to allow our emotions and our reaction to an incident to impact our feelings about the incident, the other people involved, and ourselves.
We should be better than that. We should be able to step back from any situation, take a moment to breath and assess the situation, and then respond to the situation calmly and in control. But that is super difficult. We need to practice a lot before that will become second nature.
Fortunately, life will give us opportunities to practice as often as we want to. We start by acknowledging that the things that annoy us or cause us to lose focus are our own fault. Then we put ourselves in situations where we are definitely going to get distracted and annoyed and we try to complete a task or focus on work. Every time we do it, we will get a little better. As we get better here, it will translate to bigger and more important things. So, let’s get to it!
virtus fortis vocat