ILLUMINATION
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ILLUMINATION

4 Ways Stoicism Can Ease Your Anxiety

“The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach.”

Photo by Sydney Sims on Unsplash

Anxiety is a silent destroyer of lives.

A demolishing internal wrecking ball that can leave even the best of us incapacitated. But it doesn’t have to produce such obvious devastating effects to cripple our potential and produce unhappiness.

Anxiety is a natural response to perceived or real threats, releasing hormones so your body can fight or flee.

It can just simmer under the surface continuing, unknowingly in many cases, to have an effect on our judgments, our actions, and our will. Anxiety can be produced due to our thoughts about the past, where we are thinking about the present or thoughts about the future.

The question is, how do you cope when your worries won’t go away, and your mind is constantly concocting and responding to threats?

While there’s no magic pill or potion that will eradicate anxiety, the Ancient Greek philosophy might just hold the key to getting a grip on anxious modern minds.

I struggled with anxiety my whole life but stoicism helped ease the anxious thoughts.

These are four things required an anxiety-free mind for us to reach our potential and flourish as human beings.

Let Go Of The Things You Can’t Control

Epictetus, a slave-turned-Stoic taught you can overcome any adversity if you focus on the things you can control, thoughts and beliefs, and let go of the things you can’t.

Often, we label our experiences as ‘scary’ or ‘disastrous’, I’m very guilty of this, and then react emotionally to match that belief.

Stoicism says you have the power to replace unhelpful beliefs with healthier ones.

To put it another way, you can change your thoughts, you can change your emotions and your view of the world.

The anxious mind might find this hard to hear because it loves to be in control of everything, but by trying to influence other people and situations you suffer as a slave of circumstances allowing them to dictate how you think and feel about yourself and the world around you.

If you can instead focus on your thoughts, values, and behaviours you can find some peace in letting go of everything else.

Using Cognitive Behaviour Theory And Stoicism

CBT and stoicism can help you recognise the basic beliefs that spark your emotions.

I started to question my beliefs and thoughts. For instance, I might believe “Everyone must like me, otherwise I can’t cope” but when I dig deeper, I can challenge that belief. “Why must everyone be like me?

Is my automatic emotional reaction reasonable or true? Can I accept myself even if others don’t?

Stoicism taught me that not everyone is meant to be like me and it’s okay. Begin to practice liking yourself first, do meditation, be kind and compassionate towards others and yourself. I understood that everything I needed was within me, not outside.

Good Habits, Good life

“Progress is achieved not by luck or accident, but by working on yourself every day.” (Epictetus.)

Think for a moment about your daily habits. If you’re like most people, you do them subconsciously. You’re on autopilot, following the same routine without ever reflecting upon it. To ingrain a new life philosophy, you need to take time each day to practice it.

As Epictetus said, “It is difficult for a person to come to a new principle unless they should hear it every day and at the same time practice it.”

Daily tools and techniques, like meditation and journaling, can help you experiment with new beliefs and habits until they become second nature. It took time and practice for me to change my habits.

I kept at it all the time, the daily grind of strengthening my mental and behavioural habits. And eventually, it became automatic, ingrained, second nature.

Living Stoically

Stoicism is often misunderstood. Many people think it’s about being indifferent or suppressing your emotions.

Rather, this ancient philosophy actually teaches to transform your thoughts, beliefs, and emotions, just as psychotherapy does today. The next time you’re fretting about the future, whether it’s a work presentation, job interview, or the fate of our planet, ask yourself one question: “Is this in my control?”

If it is, focus on what you can do to navigate the situation. If not, just let it go. Then come back to the present and remember that while you can’t control everything that happens in life, you can control how you respond.

Over time, this simple Stoic practice could spark the shift from suffering and struggle to compassion and calm.

All You Know To Know

Ask yourself, “Is this in my control?” If it is, change it. If not, accept it without panic, anxiety, or anger.

Practice helpful habits and reinforce them with tools like journaling and meditation.

Focus on the present moment and imagine the good things to come.

Practice compassion and devote time to helping others.

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Pach Deng

Pach Deng

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Exploring the intersection of resilience, fulfillment, and self-actualisation: https://linktr.ee/pachdeng