“Some things are in our control, and others not,” states The Enchiridion – a compilation of the teachings of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus.
“Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and in one word, whatever are not our own actions.”, meaning that if we manage things within our provenance – within ourselves – we will create the kind of agency that will help us in navigating the unknown.
How does one create agency… and more importantly, how do you manage, care for, and support yourself?
The following questions will help you discover that.
Many of us take on the opinions of others – of family members, colleagues, and people who we admire, and sometimes we don’t consider whether the opinion is uninformed, one-sided, has true merit, or what it’s based on.
Do you generally form your own opinions?
- If so, where do you usually sit on the spectrum of what people do and say?
- In what ways do those opinions pull you down or bring you up?
- Do they reflect and bring out the best or the worst in you?
- And if you unquestioningly take on the opinions of others, why?
We’ve all met people who seem to have lots of talent and energy, and yet their pursuits lead them astray. They spin their wheels, or don’t let their gifts elevate them into being the best they can be.
Do you have the capability to seek out what you want to do,
see, and experience?
- Do you exercise those capabilities?
- If not, what pointless pursuits are getting in the way?
Our desires are there for a purpose. They are meant to bring us pleasure, joy, satiation, and satisfaction.
Do you know and understand your desires – your longings
- And if so, in what ways do they provide fulfillment?
- If not, how and why do you thwart yourself?
We all have dislikes and antipathies about certain situations and/or people. Sometimes those aversions end up hobbling us, for they can keep us stuck in fear or hate, and in so doing, hamper our development and ability to be successful both inwardly and outwardly.
Thankfully, it is possible to change our responses to situations and to the behaviour of others. This, in turn, can lead us to better understandings of others and generosity of spirit.
What would happen if you let go of a pervasive and negative idea about a situation
Do you exercise control over the actions you take?
In what ways would you act differently if you could reflect upon and then reinterpret a past experience that damaged you?
The questions above ask us to put our energy into what we can do. When we do that, we create the kind of inner power that can navigate the unknown in an empowered way.
We’ve lived with the great unknown since conception, meaning we’ve developed the capacity to not let it diminish or finish us. And too, the countless generations that came before us passed on that intelligence at a cellular level,[i] meaning we have the ability to adapt, change, and build new strengths.
We have choices.
We can stay in the throes of unknown, panicked and gripped by ‘Oh Goodness’ or ‘What if’, or we can embrace who we are, who we want to become, and what we will pass on to future generations.