On Groundless Fears.
There is a common misconception that Stoics are dull, listless, unfeeling individuals who are closer to robots than living people. In fact, people who follow a Stoic philosophy of life are among the happiest and most content individuals you will ever meet. Throughout history they have been some of the most successful individuals and here I will show you just a glimpse into their powerful insight.
When I first decided to start a blog I had no idea where to begin. It was a blessing when I happened to stumble upon a few bloggers; I read all their posts and downloaded their eBooks. Quickly, my blog took shape and I had it all set up! A few days later I sat down and wrote my first post. Things were looking good! Then a curious thing happened… I froze. I was terrified to publish my work! What if everyone hated it!? What if I fail!? What if people laugh at me!? You won’t be surprised to learn that soon I gave up.
What happened? I let groundless fears take over.
As fate would have it, taking a break from blogging, I started to re-read the works of the Stoics. Incorporating lessons learned from them, I have become a much happier individual and a blogger on my way to success! Taking lessons from several Stoics, I will show you how to overcome groundless fears that may be holding you back with your blog, small business or life in general.
Groundless fear #1: The Unknown.
“There are more things, Lucilius, likely to frighten us than there are to crush us; we suffer more often in imagination than in reality.” ~ Seneca, Letter to Lucilius XIII
Fear of the unknown is very common. It is impossible for us to know everything that may happen, especially in the future. We should not let that impede us on our journey. How often do we spend time worrying about what might happen before it occurs and may never? Live in the moment; tackle the challenges that are present and if the worst arrives take that on in due time.
One method to help conquer the fear of the unknown is to write down your goal with all the steps you need obtain it. This gives you some expectations of what may happen. As you make progress, occasionally review and revise them until you are able to complete your task.
Groundless fear #2: Feedback.
“Remember that it is not he who reviles you or strikes you, who insults you, but it is your opinion about these things as being insulting.” ~ Epictetus, Enchiridion XX
With any vocation you choose in life, there those who will give praise and criticize. This is especially common, unfortunately, if you wish to have an online presence. The Stoics would recommend that you consider where the praise or criticism comes. If someone criticizes you and they are correct, it is more of a blessing than insult because they are helping you. If they give you hate mail, consider them to be petty, envious fools who are not worth any of your energy. The best response to this type of criticism is no response at all. Dealing with criticism this way takes a fair bit of practice, but over time it is very freeing and a great tool to improve yourself.
Groundless fear #3: Failure.
“Apply careful investigation, considering how our affairs actually stand, and not what men say of them; you will then understand that evils are more likely to help us than to harm us. For how often has so-called affliction been the source and the beginning of happiness!” ~ Seneca, Letter to Lucilius CX
You’re going to fail sometimes. Who cares!? If you never fail that is a clear sign that you have not pushed yourself enough. Often times it is the ability to fall flat on your face and pick yourself up that is the most important step of becoming a success. Ask anyone successful in business; we learn more lessons from our failures than successes. With success, there’s no reason to investigate why it worked, but with failure we can learn why it failed and hypothesize what we can do differently next time.
Groundless fear #4: Success.
“Forward, as occasion offers. Never look round to see whether any shall not see it [...]. Be satisfied with success in even the smallest matter, and think that even such a result is no trifle.” ~ Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book IX, 29
What is success? Success to me is probably different than to you. Success can be ephemeral if we let it. Instead of comparing yourself against others, learn to become content with what you have. Seneca relates that if we live according to nature we can never be poor, but if we compare ourselves to other people’s opinions we can never become rich.
Some people fear success itself. Don’t be afraid to choose yourself! We are each uniquely gifted to help the world in our own ways.
Often times Seneca closed his letters to Lucilius with a short quote for meditation. I thought this quote nicely describes those who go on to become successful.
“And yet life, Lucilius, is really a battle. For this reason those who are tossed about at sea, who proceed uphill and downhill over toilsome crags and heights, who go on campaigns that bring the greatest danger, are heroes and front-rank fighters; [...]” ~ Seneca, Letter to Lucilius XCVI
Everyday Stoic update:
I spend many hours and often times days reading and pondering Stoic concepts and how I can share them with my readers in an interesting fashion. After months of working full-time and trying to create interesting posts, I needed a break! Added to that I accepted a new job, needed to fix my house for sale and am increasing the size of my family! Like many bloggers more successful than I, I tried to take on the whole burden myself until I was exhausted. With that being said…
Calling all Stoics!
Do you want to share how becoming Stoic has improved your life? I’m interested in sharing others’ experiences with my readers.
Don’t want to share your experience, but would like to publish a guest post? Please ask! I have a few guidelines, but if you don’t ask I cannot accept. I read all emails and respond asap.