This came in from Daily Stoic today, and thought I would re-post it because it speaks a lot about mindset. There is much in Stoicism to help prepare us for the kinds of performance we want when it matters. This practice is the beginning of an ability to manage violence – our own and others – under duress.
The emphases below are mine:
Think about the last time that someone made you upset. What did they say? What did they do? Now think back: How did you react? What did you say? What did you feel?
Now think about the situation another way: If, when that provocation came, you had given yourself space to pause, could you have controlled your reaction? Could you have stayed sober and calm in the face of their hysterics and yelling? Could you have kept your head about you?
Marcus Aurelius said, “You have power over your mind—not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Viktor Frankl talked about how between stimulus and response, we have space, and in that space, we determine not just our response, but who we are.
What we’re doing here is trying to train ourselves to do that. All this reading, this writing, this stepping back and reflecting on our patterns of behavior–it’s for a purpose. It’s to improve that default response. So that while others give themselves over to their emotions, we can keep any destructive emotions in check. As they freak out, we can calm down. That’s the whole point of Stoicism: to restore the power over your mind to the only person who ought to have it—you.
Obviously to this I would add “all the work we put in.” That work isn’t just on the mat, at the range, with a blade, etc. etc. but how we process the work we do, and learn from it. Then, applying it and through experience going further. In doing that, we “make space,” we train our emotions and our minds to have that time, even when we don’t have time.
Many – too many – people don’t do this: even self-appointed instructors and professionals. This recent incident from Anaheim is a perfect example of this:
There were plenty of opportunities here to take some space: two guys, relatively calm from the sounds of it, yet utterly carried away by the momentum of the event and clearly not thinking. This conduct is egregious, and flies in the face of those instructors and professionals who blithely comment online about “dumping whole mags” at people if you can articulate a threat. These two were more of a threat to their community than the suspect in this case.
We don’t talk about this stuff enough in “the community.”