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Day 35: On Being Invincible

“Who then is invincible? The one who cannot be upset by anything outside their reasoned choice.”

Epictetus

Today’s post expands on the idea of ‘Prohairesis‘ as explained by Epictetus. As per the definition:

Nothing is properly considered either good, or bad, aside from those things that are within our own power to control, and the only thing fully in our power to control is our own voilation (prohairesis) which exercises the faculty of choice that we use to judge our impressions.

As explained by an example:  if a person says something critical to us, that is not bad; or, if something complimentary is said, that is not good, because such things are externals and not in our power to control.

But I guess we have heard a lot of advice on ignoring criticism but no one tells us to ignore compliments. I don’t have any advice on this topic from my personal experience because I am also learning here. I am also not immune to despair caused by criticism and the high I get from compliments. But here is another piece of advice from Epictetus, explaining why we do thus:

Remember that what is insulting is not the person who abuses or hits you, but the judgment that these things are insulting. So when someone irritates you, realize that it is your own opinion that has irritated you. Try, therefore, in the first place, not to be carried away by the impression; for if you once gain time and respite, you will find it easier to control yourself.

However, there is a piece of fair advice given by Ryan Holiday in the book to tackle such a situation in life and I think I will try to adapt it in my life:

Have you ever watched a seasoned pro handle the media? No question is too tough, no tone too pointed or insulting. They parry every blow with humor, poise, and patience. Even when stung or provoked, they choose not to flinch or react. They’re able to do this not only because of training and experience, but because they understand that reacting emotionally will only make the situation worse. The media is waiting for them to slip up or get upset, so to successfully navigate press events they have internalized the importance of keeping themselves under calm control.

Ques: Let me know in comments how do you handle criticisms and compliments in your life?

Published inPhilosophy & IdeasStoicism

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