Can you anticipate an emotion?
Epictetus challenges me today with that question. Because in a lot of cases, feeling something is just what we react when something happens. I’m happy because something happy happened. But what if I can already prepare the emotion before something happens?
“This is the true athlete—the person in rigorous training against false impressions. Remain firm, you who suffer, don’t be kidnapped by your impressions! The struggle is great, the task divine—to gain mastery, freedom, happiness, and tranquility.”
Stoics don’t fear anything, because they choose not to. And this is a skill that needs to be learned, practiced and mastered. And putting in the work, to know how to feel when something happens, will prepare me for when I do encounter that situation.
In the past, I have been always reactive. When something happens, I improvised, and I took pride in my ability to come up with solutions on the spot. Even with how I felt at the time.
When I would need to speak, I needed to calm myself down and in a moments notice, I could take the stage and no problem. But there are a lot of times, when I couldn’t think of how to react to something. During large crises that needed my focus, I would often be too deep in my emotions to think clearly.
I would worry a lot. And the anxiety is paralyzing.
In those times, I wish I could have anticipated the feeling, and Epictetus tells me that I could. So today’s message: “Anticipate your problems so you can deal with them better”