In a world where we’re told to express and hold nothing back it can be easy to overlook the value of persistent patience. The kind of patience that stops you reacting and instead, keeps you responding.
The type of patience where you keep faith you’ll come out on top despite having no answers to something and being largely left in the dark. The form of resilience that keeps you grounded in the heat of the moment and stops you losing your dignity, by saying or doing something that can’t be unsaid or undone.
The ‘it’s okay to not be okay’ movement has given everyone not only a voice but it’s given them a skewed filter as to what should just be dealt with and what should be complained about.
Yep, this is a good old fashioned hard hitting post that pulls no punches and tells it how it is in 2020. But rest assured, this isn’t negative. Knowledge is power and so is control over emotions, as you’re about to learn.
As a suspected (but not diagnosed) autistic male growing up in the late 90s/early 00s, I found social dynamics very hard to figure out. I hated group speaking. Sucked at eye contact and was useless at initiating with anyone. I had friends and good ones at that, but I struggled with self expression or even expression of any kind.
Looking back, I think when I was younger I was desperate for an out and it came out in competing with other kids, in fighting and in rebelling. I remember in year 5 (around 9/10 years old) figuring out the more I reacted to what people said or did, the more it would provoke. Once I figured this out I built on it over the years and today, I pride myself in my ability to control myself despite how I feel. To hold back and stay calm. To wait that bit longer even though I fear the game is over. I hold tight and so often, the win comes along.
This has stuck with me throughout adulthood and in many ways is a skillset I’ve refined and honed over the years. Playing competitive sport was the perfect practice ground for this, also. As I played a solo sport control over the emotions is even more important. I myself fed on the suffering of my opponents when I detected it from their outbursts, whether subtle or drastic. So the last thing I would ever let myself do was allow them an advantage on me by doing the same.
Things are hard enough as they are without gifting the edge to your opponents. Therefore the unphased, stoic approach was the only choice.
Faking it versus truly feeling it
As ancient as stoicism is, people confuse it with putting on a brave face and just pretending to be fine with what happens, while they slowly suffocate inside.
The real version of stoicism is the innate ability to asses the situation and accept things for what they are; realising what you can and can’t change. Then, moving forward positively to the best of your abilities.
Faking this will leave you a ticking time bomb, a pressure cooker waiting to blow. You may be ‘fine’ in the moment but what damage is it causing? Sometimes it’s better to just let it out if you have to. This may sound really contradictory but that’s my point………..the stoic approach is either naturally more suited to someone or refined and developed – usually a mix of both.
The problem with living by your emotions all the time is they change so damn much. They’re fickle and fleeting. So often your emotions towards a situation will change far more than the situation itself will!
Relationships, achievements, justice & your own mental freedom
This is where the real beauty of the stoic, patient and indifferent to outcomes approach lies: it’s not just in combat or sport that it benefits you, it’s in achievement, in relationships, in winning and in keeping your mind healthy.
Looking firstly at achievements, this approach is crucial because the main reason most never achieve as much as they want within an endeavor is they get deterred at the inevitable stick point(s). Everything of note in this life takes considerable effort; there are no born champions. Sure, talent counts for a lot but there’s loads of unrealised talent in this world. In fact the world is littered with ‘should haves’.
The stick points are where your patience is tested as you’ve already been going a long while and the longer you’ve been trudging, the harder and harder it gets to see considerable results. That’s just the laws of diminishing returns. It’s the infamous and unavoidable plateau you hear so much about, and while it’s often attached to the world of physical development (fitness etc) it can happen in sport, in learning music, a language and so many other skills.
These plateau points are essentially crossroads where you need to refine your approach and get smarter to keep progress coming. Sometimes this can happen regularly too – hence the patience being tested. It’s just too easy to get deflated, dejected, depressed and ultimately defeated by these blocks that seem impossible to overcome.
BUT, by detaching from current feeling and any ideals you may have about where you should and shouldn’t be in regards to said skill………you allow yourself to carry on without the fog of emotion that, just like British weather, will be completely different tomorrow. Granted sometimes the storm lasts a little longer than a day but it WILL PASS.
This is the innate power of detaching from outcomes and remaining able to enjoy things for what they are regardless of the ego’s desire for more all the time. Soon enough you’ll calmly research more on the subject, or self reflect, or contact a coach or even take a break from the activity to reset the mind and come back hungry as hell.
Relationships/dealing with people –
This subsection of your life can be the hardest for many. Modern life has got us expecting the world while overlooking our own shortcomings. This alone can cause one to struggle massively when it comes to friendships and romantic relationships.
I honestly think the high pressure of modern life makes us this way. It makes us ultra conscious of time passing and therefore incredibly intolerant to anyone or anything interfering with how we want things. Not to sound ultra hippie or spiritual because I’m not, but we really aren’t present in 90% of our lives.
We’re under so much pressure in our hamster wheels we’ve forgotten to pause for breath, to pause to reflect, to pause to acknowledge the good in our fellow man/woman, to appreciate things for what they are and even to just feel things as they are right here and now! We’re either hung up on who did what to us in the past or stressed about what might happen in the future.
The other problem is human beings are very selfish and modern living has made us this way. We’ve become cut throat as opposed to tribal. It’s all part of evolution I guess but we’ve almost forgotten how to balance it out. When is it no longer about you and instead, us?
It takes a very big person nowadays to overlook petty treatment and poor behavior from others. Handling this is all in your own outlook. I’ve always said the secret to happiness is taking nothing personal wherever possible. Almost always their behavior is less about you and more about them. It’s a reflection of them. They feel shit so they want you and others to feel shit, too. It’s childish and a display of poor emotional management.
Lashing out is what children do when they’re hurting. They can’t process what’s going on internally and need to get it out, as soon as possible. The emotional regulation just isn’t there. Nearly always this will be coupled with doing/saying things that are hard, if not impossible, to undo/take back.
I’m wholeheartedly convinced the one who manages to process the strong urge to react instantly and quieten it always emerges the winner. I’ve experienced it many times where people will be passive aggressive, ghost and act awful for me to seemingly have no say in the matter despite people saying I should blow up; fight and let them know what they’ve done etc etc…….
Instead, I’ve carried on living the life everyone knows me to live and used the slight anguish to push me on in moments where I’ll want to quit or wonder what the point of suffering is. It’s fuel. It’s the only way to turn negativity into positivity.
And so often with this approach the people who’ve acted poorly have came back one way or another to try and test me again, not realising that the stoic approach has not only kept me grounded but also allowed me to truly process goings on for what they are, and now define what I will not tolerate and what I no longer need. Almost always it’s the trashy people who pushed you for a reaction you didn’t give, who are now coming back to try again and this time they’re getting more frustrated by your unfazed state.
Only for you, this time you’re even more indifferent. You see things and accept them exactly as they are. And believe me, there’s no better revenge to narcissists or drama queens than their existence/presence not even registering on your consciousness.
Suppression vs being grounded – it’s a practice game
I can hear the more emotively natured readers labeling me a robot that’s just become so suppressed and almost doesn’t know how to feel anymore. This isn’t the case. I’ve simply become better at determining what’s worth the energy of my emotions. My feelings, stress and worry are precious and as the years have gone by, I’ve grown more and more particular as to where I express them and spend them.
If need be, have a boxing bag in your garage to knock ten bells of shit out of. Have a hammer and tyre set up in the garden to hammer the fuck out of. Heck, get the feelings out through exercise. Go and blast a session. It doesn’t have to be the perfect thing, just move your body and express these thoughts and vibes in a positive way.
Shouting and lashing out at toxic people isn’t the way to go. They will use it against you and they’re incredibly good at creating scenarios and environments you cannot win, no matter what side of the coin you choose.
Show out and you’re ‘aggressive’, ‘violent’ or ‘too much’. Don’t show out and you’re ‘guilty’, ‘cold’ or just an ‘asshole’. Truth is, you’re controlled. You’re wise, sensible and stoic. You know it’s not worth a rise and your lack of bother at their existence will eat their narcissistic core away every night, when they lay down to sleep and wonder why you, only you, didn’t feed them like everyone else.
I’m no spiritualist but it’s easy to see why an ancient philosophy is still popular today. It works. It’s effective and plays a key role in mental freedom, happiness and enhancing your time on this earth.
The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.