Setbacks and disappointment – What do we do when faced with these unavoidable circumstances? We could whine, complain, self-flagellate, blame others or ourselves. Or we could choose to lean into the understanding that this is life.
The Stoic approach to life appeals to me on so many levels. Before I began to actively learn about this philosophy, I thought that being stoic, with a small s, meant believing that everything is crap and that the best bet is to anticipate things not going well so that we wouldn’t be disappointed when they did. There is some truth to this approach with the big S philosophy, but now I realize it’s so much more gentle and human than that. Stoicism isn’t about being doom and gloom. It’s about leaning into acceptable of what is, releasing attachment to outcome, and working in a belief that our lives are largely proscribed and therefore it is not within our control to change the trajectory. What will be will be, and our failing, as emotional beings, is in the energy we waste trying to swim against a raging current rather than allowing ourselves to be carried along by momentum.
This is a week of setbacks. I am experiencing deep disappointment, along with some substantial grief. But having a belief system that centres on the concepts listed above is allowing me to navigate this present moment with less charge than I otherwise would have. I understand, truly that, as per Ryan Holiday, the obstacle IS the way, and there is so much learning available through conflict. In fact, one would argue that learning is ONLY available through conflict. The more we are able to approach conflict head on, without falling subject to our programs and conditioning, the greater the options on the other side.
We spend so much time part of systems governed by reductionist Cartesian approaches that it’s hard to consider that there are options, and other ways to look at and approach our short times on this planet. But there always are, if we are willing to look.