One of the techniques used by ancient Stoics to build inner peace is to know what things you can and can’t control. When troubled by thoughts or emotions from a circumstance, Stoics evaluates if they can influence a particular situation or not. If they do, they will take full responsibility into it and if not there is no reason to even think about it and just left it to the gods and nature.
The sphere of control varies from person to person. If you were an Emperor in ancient Rome, you have more things in your control than when you were a slave. Since it can vary from person to person the key is to identify these things, write them down and when presented by troubling thoughts or events go to these notes and reflect. If it’s in your control then take FULL RESPONSIBILITY, and if not don’t spend a dime of time, left it to the gods and nature.
A good way to remember the sphere of controls is to draw a circle in the middle of a sheet paper like the one below. Write the things you have complete(100%) control in that circle. Next, draw concentric outer circles and write the things you don’t fully control. The nearer the outer circle is to the center, the more you have control (but not 100%). The farther the outer circle, the least you have control to them and those are the things you shouldn’t spend energy worrying. I recommend drawing 4 more circles in decreasing 20% control loss as the one below. The numbers are only to make a rough estimate, just make a rational decisions where to put an item on those circles.
Again the goal here to is narrow things under which you have control. When you focus things that only matter then you will find more peace. Notice this to other people as well. People complain too much on social media about pretty much everything, majority of which belongs in the outermost circle of control. No wonder a lot of people are depressed in this age of social media.
As you go to this journey of writing your spheres of control, you will learn that majority of things you worry on a daily basis are the othermost circle. You will also learn , as all stoics philosopher in the past would agree, that there is really only one thing you can control in life – your own thoughts. All emotions are derived from our thoughts (cognitive emotions) , from our outlook in life.
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