Sunday, January 4, 2015

I Guess I Really Am a Mad Stoic

It seems to me Cato and myself have something in common. I don't have a drinking problem. I never stubbornly defended my country to the point that I brought it's downfall. And I certainly never found myself thrusting a sword into myself.

Yet, anyway.

No, the problem is that, like Cato, I'm quick to anger.

It's hard to explain, but anger and it's cousin, annoyance, spring up in me at the littlest of things. Wife doesn't get out of bed in the morning? Annoyed. Son refuses to sit in a chair because he just has to sit on top of me like I'm a living sofa? Really? Goddamn it.

This is why I have a hard time calling myself a Stoic, despite thinking everything they say makes sense (well, maybe not everything). And I can read On Anger only so many times before I get mad at myself for once again NOT LETTING GO OF THIS F*#&ING ANGER WHY AM I SO ALWAYS PISSED AT ALL THE THINGS!?


It seems to me that maybe the problem is I took the Stoic teachings all wrong. See, for awhile, I was trying to use anger like Aristotle would: as a tool. Anger in excess is bad, trying to get rid of it would only cause more anger, blah blah blah. Something like that. The Stoics, on the other hand, saw it as something dangerous, as something we should never use, yet didn't deny it existed. Hell, they even said we should fake it at times.

But what if, when anger came along, I faked not being angry?

I've done it before and it drains will power like nobody's business. But it does help. One or two times, anyway.

But now I've been trying something else: letting people know that I'm angry in a nice way. It goes like this:

Before nice anger: Mostly a lot of stuttering, swearing, and if I could write anything here, it be in all caps.
Now, with nice anger: "I'm mad right now because reasons."

It's odd, but it being nice about being angry is somehow the most Stoic thing I've done for my emotions. I'm not repressing the feeling -- Stoics don't advocate this, anyway -- but I'm not Hulk-smashing my feelings into my family, either. It's an odd win-win that doesn't kill my anger, but also doesn't kill my relationship.

Sure, I still do blow my top every now and then. Some days are just worse than others. But so long as there are more better days than not, I can live with that.

So, my fellow Stoic peeps, do you have an emotion that's hard to control and what have you done to keep it in check?

On (Short and Most Likely Wrong) Thoughts About the Modern Stoic Schools

Recently, I’ve been working on not only gaining a deeper understanding of Stoicism, but also how to use in modern life, as well as attempti...