“The essence of good is a certain kind of reasoned choice; just as the essence of evil is another kind. What about externals, then? They are only the raw material for our reasoned choice, which finds its own good or evil in working with them. How will it find the good? Not by marveling at the material! For if judgments about the material are straight that makes our choices good, but if those judgments are twisted, our choices turn bad.”The Daily Stoic
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 1.29.1–3
I think every one of us seeks steadiness in ourselves, we all do. Sure, are we considered steady just because of the possession of the materials, power, and money? Are we truly feeling, thinking, and being steady when we avoid the mess we’ve caused?
According to a 34 year old, which pretty much have changed perception from a 17 year old me before, that act of avoiding is just ignorance that leads to unsteadiness.
For example, imagine in a situation of there’s external validation given to you without you asking for it, say you’ve got this because you published an article online. People may react to your thoughts with a mixture of hate comments and constructive feedback. Neither both you can control it but Epictetus suggested that if it’s not the world, you control your mind means you can control what you want to be let into your mind instead. Identify what’s useful from those validation given which will help you change for a better you!
In other situations, having to deal with unavoidable narcissists within your circle who are famous for their “you-deserve-what-I-have-just-said-to-you” words thrown to other people. Instead of feeling paralyzed by the uncontrollable character, use this as an opportunity to exercise your mind in filtering their harshness, with time (yes, it’s a work in progress), you will gain mind steadiness and able to focus on the outcome you need whenever dealing with such person. Instead of changing them, you could change how you deal with them and that’s one way you can change your life.
With all that’s mentioned above, you only get steadier if you let yourself to face the mess instead of avoiding it for your whole life. Even a runner needs to stop running after a while. Gain your clarity by knowing what’s not working or hurting you, practice making good judgment is one way of many to change your life. That for a 34-year-old me, it is an act of self-love.