Relationships – Stoic Week Day 4

Six years ago I took part in a 12-month management training programme at the institution I then worked for. I learnt an incredible amount about myself over that year and I feel it has in some way helped to shape the person I am today.

I refer to one of my greatest takeaways from the programme regularly. It came from a workshop on emotional intelligence:

“You can’t control someone else’s actions, only how you will respond to them.”

It is fitting for today’s Stoic Week theme of relationships and links to my reflections on self-control from day three.

Over the course of the management programme I kept a reflective journal. Today I went back to the post I wrote after the emotional intelligence session. The main elements were around self-awareness and empathy. Re-posted below are the practical approaches that I identified to help me make practise self-awareness and empathy.

Self-awareness

  • Analyse what you’re feeling as you’re feeling it
  • Recognise your triggers
  • Own the emotion
  • Assess your options
  • Ask yourself how your response will effect others

Empathy

  • Read the body language
  • Recognise masking of emotions through the disparity of what people say and do
  • Appreciate difference
  • Be non-judgemental
  • Be objective

Today’s midday exercise asked us to think about the people that are close to us and whether that relationship is helping us to develop the Stoic virtues. In some way I feel our closest relationships are the biggest test of these virtues. If we can’t display wisdom, courage, justice and moderation with the people we love, then how is it possible to master that with strangers?

The evening text for reflection is possible one of the most joyful I’ve come across in my exploration of Stoicism. I’ll just leave it here, see if it doesn’t boost your mood.

“Whenever you want to cheer yourself up, think of the good qualities of those who live with you: such as the energy of one, the decency of another, the generosity of another… There is nothing so cheering as the images of the virtues displayed in the characters of those who live with you… so you should keep them ready to hand.”

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.48


Image by Timon Studler on Unsplash.

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