“Clear your mind and get a hold on yourself and, as when awakened from sleep and realizing it was only a bad dream upsetting you, wake up and see that what’s there is just like those dreams.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.31
Think about this example. You have a decision to make so you evaluate the potential outcomes. Multiple scenarios are run through in your head so you can prepare for the consequences of your decision. You make the most reasonable choice, and yet you find yourself beginning to worry. What if I’m really not prepared? What if other people act in a way that creates challenges I can’t overcome? What if an “act of god” takes place?
What is the cause of this fear, anxiety or other passionate emotion? It can’t be the event itself because it hasn’t even happened.
The only fact is this: we get to choose how we react to everything in life. If we get upset because things don’t work out as planned, or to restate getting upset because we don’t get our way, it’s not unlike getting upset at a bad dream. What exactly can be controlled in a dream? Nothing. What can you control external to you? Nothing. What we can control is how we react.
Easier said than done. Sometimes we want things so badly that we lose sight of the truth that we still have choices to make. Maybe it takes longer to get there, or maybe we find a different path with a better outcome. How often have you thought, after the fact, just how petty you were being while in the throes of crisis? I can remember so many time when I’ve been paralyzed to inaction because I was so overwhelmed by failure.
Shall we lean on Nietzsche?
“From life’s school of war: what does not kill me makes me stronger”
Don’t believe the dream.