It’s fair to say that I’ve had to face more difficult situations in my twenties than I’d anticipated.
There’s was my parents’ separation, my fiancé’s cancer diagnosis and then all of the other stuff that comes with being a young guy trying to make a career out of his dream job.
All of these situations present challenges of themselves: coping with change, the prospect of loss and the uncertainty of financial security. By far, though, my most formidable foe has been my own mind.
It’s been a challenge — wrestling with my busy thoughts. But I’ve learned how to cope in the process.
If there’s one quote that sums up my approach to the whirlwind that this past year has been, it’s the following gem from Marcus Aurelius,
‘Today I escaped from anxiety. Or no, I discarded it, because it was within me, in my own perceptions — not outside.’
The battles we face usually have more to do with our mentality than anything else. It’s not the situation that’s difficult. The difficult part is dealing with our thoughts.
Our Thoughts Make us Miserable
The Stoic philosopher Epictetus put it best:
‘There is only one way to happiness and that is to cease worrying about things which are beyond the power of our will.’
We all think too much — especially when we’re faced with uncertainty. Take the example of an unexpected ailment, like a crippling stomach ache. If our minds were rational creatures, we might think, I’m not a medical professional, I’ll wait to hear what my doctor says about my symptoms.
But we rarely think that way. Instead, we turn to Google and frantically seek an explanation, diagnosing ourselves with all sorts of terrifying illnesses when, in reality, it’s probably just have indigestion.
When a loved one gets a cancer diagnosis, the same thought patterns take place. After processing the devastating news, I started trying to predict what the future would hold.