STOIC PHILOSOPHY

Many modern therapies have roots in older traditions such as Stoic philosophy and Buddhism. Stoics believed that problems arise from trying to control things outside oneself rather than accepting them. The first question for a Stoic is to know what is in one’s control and what is not.

THINGS THAT ARE IN OUR CONTROL
– our wishes and fears
– our capacity to direct attention
– our capacity to observe ourselves from other perspectives

THINGS THAT ARE NOT IN OUR CONTROL
– the actions of others
– the natural world (including our bodies)
– the impermanence of things

OBSERVING SELF
– stand back and observe your thoughts and feelings rather than struggling to control them
– differentiate looking-from (‘I’ experiences) and looked-at (‘me’ experiences) – see here
– check yourself for cultivating an image for others rather than living life from the inside

DIRECTED ATTENTION
– learn how to shift attention between focused, distracted and wandering mind
– focus on your immediate sensations and environment to regain attention

COMMITTED ACTION
– excessive focus on achieving goals can prevent people from living according to their values
– problems with motivation often come from values that are adopted rather than freely chosen
– action in accordance with freely-chosen values is intrinsically motivating

SEE ALSO:
– The Philosophy of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
– examples of Stoic exercises here and here
– Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
– The Happiness Trap