“A podium and a prison is each a place, one high and the other low, but in either place your freedom of choice can be maintained if you so wish.”– Epictetus, Discourses, 2.6.25
This past Christmas seasons I received a book titled, The Daily Stoic. I’ve been looking forward to reading this daily reflection for quite some time. I’ve been reading from The Daily Stoic since the new year and I’m beginning to realize that the Stoics had an amazing state of mind about freedom of choice.
As a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Counselor, this quote hit home with me greatly. Too often when my clients experience worry or anxiety in their life, they may feel helpless and even powerless at times. Helpless that their situation is unmovable; and powerless that they can’t control what may (or may not) happen next. They feel that the situation is outside of their control. The worry or anxiety can consume someone. When this worry or anxiety takes root, it can grow, and grow, and grow until it becomes so unmanageable that it’s overwhelming and mentally exhausting. Worry and anxiety can get so intense that it impacts work performance and can cause a decline in significant or intimate relationships, not to mention the personal stain on the individual.
I wonder what could happen if we were to consider the quote by Epictetus when we faced worry or anxiety. As we reflect on Epictetus’ quote, I encourage you to remember that our perspective matters. Usually when we are worried or anxious, we aren’t open to other perspectives other than our own; even if the other perspective is more realistic, based in reality or fact, or could even break the chains of continued worry, anxiety, and exhaustion. Remembering that we all have freedom of choice and make countless decisions every day, is something that gives back a sense of control and power.
Change your perspective, shift your thinking, update your viewpoint; all of these can help you begin to realize that you do not have to feel worry, anxious, or mentally exhausted; you deserve more than ok.
Remember, no great misery goes unnoticed, if you are struggling with your mental health, be sure to reach out to a qualified mental health professional. If you are considering suicide please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK, call 9-1-1, or visit the closest emergency room.
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Jeff Simms is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Counselor in private practice in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Jeff works with adults that want to get better dealing with their anxiety, depression, PTSD, and marriage.