“Today I escaped from the crush of circumstances, or better put, I threw them out, for the crush wasn’t from outside me but in my own assumptions.”MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 9.13
Sometimes it feels like the weight of the world is upon you. Like the world is conspiring against you. It might feel like the odds are not in your favor, and that circumstances are threatening to overwhelm you.
In today’s quote in The Daily Stoic, Marcus reminds us that the crush actually comes from the inside. That is to say, our emotions and our reactions come from us — we are responsible for how we feel about everything, how we respond.
“Someone can’t frustrate you, work can’t overwhelm you,” says Ryan Holiday. These things don’t have secret control over your mind and heart. They only have as much control as you give them. The overwhelm comes from inside you.
Holiday explains the word hypolepsis, which means the absorbing or adoption of opinions, assumptions, and understanding. Sometimes those assumptions are wrong, and we have to throw them out, like Marcus says above. It doesn’t help you to jump to conclusions.
We should hold the awesome power of our understanding and our awareness in the highest regard — for this is what gives us the ability to determine when we’ve gone astray and need to adjust our course. Knowing this is critical. Otherwise we run the risk of imagining harm where no harm exists, and allowing ourselves to be crushed from the inside.