WHAT is the reason of all this? The principal is an inconsistency and confusion in what relates to good and evil. But different people have different inducements. In general, whatever they imagine to be base they do not absolutely confess. Fear and compassion they imagine to belong to a well-meaning disposition; but stupidity to a slave. Offences against society they do not own; but, in most faults, they are brought to a confession chiefly from imagining that there is something involuntary in them, as in fear and compassion. And, though a person should in some measure confess himself intemperate in his desires, he accuses his passion, and expects forgiveness as for an involuntary fault. But dishonesty is not imagined to be, by any means, involuntary. In jealousy, too, there is something, they suppose, of involuntary; and this likewise, in some degree, they confess.
EPICTETUS. DISCOURSES. Book ii. §21. ¶1
If we experience negative emotions such as Jealousy and or are dishonest it is purely our decision to entertain these emotions or actions. We are not victims but are responsible for wallowing in this negativity.ReplyDelete
We aren't responsible for our initial physical reactions, when our bodies do things without consent, as in "fight or flight" response. Any actions past that initial physical response we have control over and we must take responsibility for. We should hold ourselves accountable for our faults and actions no matter what the circumstances. We always have the choice to act with Virtue or without Virtue, in a base manner.ReplyDelete
"People try to absolve themselves by imagining that there is something involuntary in their moral choices. They will not take responsibility for their failings."ReplyDelete
Yet these same people also hold others fully responsible for their actions, and almost never forgive harm done to them by saying "It's OK, you're only human." They claim moral innocence by blaming their nature, and cry for vengeance when they have been hurt. We must remember that we all consciously choose our own vicious actions, we deliberately hold to grief and anger, we stubbornly refuse to forgive and instead live in the unforgiving and unchanging past. This is not life, it is an early death.
Yes, the initial physiological/psychological response might not be ours (although we can temper them both with practice I believe), but the subsequent 'stories' we build in our minds are totally in our control.ReplyDelete
The thing I've gained from Stoicism more than any other is the notion that I ONLY have control of me: my aversions, likes, beliefs, etc. Knowing that, I can deal with people who act inappropriately to me and others with a sense of indifference. Not that I won't do something to rectify the situation, but my attachment to both the outcome and the situation itself is missing.
In my mind, that's true happiness.
We may not always be in control of our circumstances, but we are always in control of our reactions to those circumstances. We must choose how we react with thought and reservation before we act. Often this lack of pause before acting is what causes shame or confusion NOT the circumstances themselves.ReplyDelete