With all the volatility we come across in life, some of the more difficult trials to endure are the ones involving our relationships with people. Trying to control conversations with the few that we want to facilitate good relationships with can be like taming a lion. One must pay close and constant attention to the conversations and actions from all participating parties for the relationship to remain manageable. While managing the connections we have with the people in our lives is doable on our own, sometimes a little perspective can supplement a good bond. Stoic philosophical perspective in particular.
There is a lot of dept to the complexities of the Stoics but in a nutshell, they’re all about self-mastery. Stoics would say that controlling the emotional input in thought, when it comes to a relationship, is one of the keys to strengthening said relationship. However the relevance that some actual quotes from historic figures of Stoicism can be applied to our relationships today.
1. “It is silly to try to escape other people’s faults. They are inescapable. Just try to escape your own.” – Marcus Aurelius
Interpret what Marcus was saying however you want, but the guy was the last of the five ‘good emperors’ of Rome so there may be some wisdom here for us to dissect and apply to our own lives. Our relationships are like cauldrons gurgling and spilling over with each new ingredient of emotional triggering added spewing, steaming, and violently combining with each other to make a beautiful, colorful concoction. In Marcus’ quote, he’s insinuating that you should practice self-mastery and observe your own thoughts, emotions, the assumptions and bias that you may contribute that are part of your own mental construct. How many of these thoughts of yours have you questioned? Perhaps developing your own perspective should come first so when you have a contribution, it is articulate and lacking any emotional bias that might taint the genuineness of the thought.
2. “We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than reality.” – Seneca
Let’s face it, sometimes the poor communication skills we forget to develop leave our imaginations to fester. I’m sure Seneca would have a lot to say about texting and DMing if they were around in his era, but it’s almost as if he knew exactly what to say based on the way shorthand communication was even then. When someone responds to a text and it does’nt meet your communicative needs, Seneca is saying here that the insecurity you experience is entirely a problem of your own psyche. Texting aside, any form of communication without articulation is left to the imagination and your internalization of the emptiness between words should always be considered before drawing irrational conclusions.
3. “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Marcus Aurelius
Again Marcus kills it with the wisdom. Marcus is saying that the past is gone, leave it alone and the future is an assumption. The only time to experience life is right now with what’s in front of you. The dept of your own mind is ever explorable, let alone someone else’s mind. Conversation alone is worth considering the now and experiencing what’s in front of you. Your relationship may have been better or it may improve, but right now is the only part that’s real.
Stoicism as a means to an improved relationship is not gospel, it’s mereley a philosophy. With that said, it’s an incredibly useful and practical philosophy that is primarily about the focus of self improvement. Self awareness in a relationship is crutial, so instead of normal thoughts about “he said, she said” or “what can I get out of this”, maybe consider asking what you can do for that person or what you can do to develope yourself.