So make a practice at once of saying to every strong impression: ‘An impression is all you are, not the source of the impression.’ Then test and assess it with your criteria, but one primarily: ask, ‘Is this something that is, or is not, in my control?’ And if it’s not one of the things that you control, be ready with the reaction, ‘Then it’s none of my concern.’ (Epictetus - Enchiridion I.5)
Review your recent emotional responses. What made you angry? What nagging fear continues to wear at you? To whom do you deeply resent or dislike? In short, what negative emotions are you experiencing? Now ask yourself “why?” If virtue is sufficient for happiness, why are you feeling anything other than joy? To what inappropriate impression have you assented? What virtue have you lacked to allow this disharmony into your “inner citadel”?
If there is an area of particular concern, start keeping a count of those incidents when it has raised its ugly head. Often, just measuring a thing goes a long way towards fixing it. Just knowing that, for instance, you lost your cool and yelled at the teenager four times this week. Or that you snacked twice when you’d promised yourself you wouldn’t. It’s not a judgment, it’s just a number. But there are reasons behind the number, and you can work with those.
This is an exercise about applying lessons learned and trying to come up with better ways to solve future problems and situations. I’ve incorporated this into my weekly journaling routine and have found it has helped give me a great level of awareness on the subtle triggers that caused a certain reaction to trigger. So perhaps spend a few minutes thinking about a past situation and how you can improve on it going forward.
🍺 to another great week ahead!