“If the good seeks any portion of itself from without, it gives over to the play of Fortune.” – Seneca
We control only a few things in this world and none of them are outside of ourselves. If we find ourselves looking for benefits from the outside world we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. We need to be prepared to depend on ourselves for validation, we can certainly use the responses of the outside world for feedback but we don’t control the responses of the outside world.
If we find ourselves expecting our relationship with a spouse or significant other to provide us with emotional validation or a sense of self worth, we are going to find ourselves disappointed. We do not control how our loved ones act towards us or what they provide within the confines of a relationship.
If we find ourselves looking to our profession to provide our sense of identity we are going to find ourselves not feeling fulfilled. We do not control how the world views our profession or how they react to our professional contributions. We can’t control people reacting poorly to us and undermining our careers with complaints or damaging our reputations with lies. We can’t control unfair competition or new, unfair regulation of our industries. These things are outside of our control but can still derail even the strongest professional.
If we find ourselves dependent on our wealth for a sense of self worth we will find ourselves in a vulnerable position. Our wealth can be taken away by changes in markets, by unforeseen situations we find ourselves in, or by political destabilization of our regions. And we are powerless to do anything about it.
If instead we focus on ourselves and the things we do control and we put our values there, these things can not be taken away from us. We could find ourselves broke, homeless, and even imprisoned and we would still maintain our sense of self worth, our identity, and our sense of validation. In fact, when we focus on the things we can control, our struggles strengthen these things rather than detracting from them.
virtus fortis vocat