Practical Stoicism: Consider Worst Case Scenarios

Submitted by c0c0c0 on Wed, 08/02/2017 - 19:17

Yet another re-write.  Hopefully, this one flows a little better, with a little less drama.  The take away needs to be that this is like exercising your misfortune muscle.  You really don't want to wait until you need it to see if you are strong enough.

"We should remind our spirits all the time that they love things that will leave - no, better, things that are already leaving.  You possess whatever is given by Fortune without a guarantor."  (Seneca – Consolation to Marcia)

If an evil has been pondered beforehand, the blow is gentle when it comes. To the fool, however, and to him who trusts in fortune, each event as it arrives "comes in a new and sudden form," and a large part of evil, to the inexperienced, consists in its novelty. This is proved by the fact that men endure with greater courage, when they have once become accustomed to them, the things which they had at first regarded as hardships. (Seneca – Letter 76)

It is important to regularly spend time meditating on the worst outcomes you can possibly imagine. Spend 10 minutes imagining losing your sight in an accident. Your child to a disease. Your livelihood and reputation in one dramatic melt-down. Your life. Whatever you are currently most afraid of, whatever has been haunting your thoughts - that.

Do it for 10 minutes. For 10 whole minutes, walk through each agonizing step of your excruciating loss. What would you do? How would you handle it? Could you really be “Stoic” about it? Possibly not.

But in ten minutes, you’ll open your eyes and all will be as it was.  None of your worst fears will have happened.

Only, now, you will have faced those fears and know that you will get past them, one way or another.  If it happens, you will not be debilitated with shock.  You will get to work on what comes next.  You will appreciate what you have, and yet fully accept that it is only yours so long as Lady Luck wills it. 

You will be stronger versus that which you fear the most.

It sounds horrible and morbid. It sounds like a nasty way begin the day. But only by confronting your fears can you overcome them and learn to face whatever fate throws at you with serenity.