Focus on Yourself

“Remember, then, if you deem what is by nature slavish to be free, and what is not your own to be yours, you will be shackled and miserable, blaming both gods and other people. But if you deem as your own only what is yours, and what belongs to others as truly not yours, then no one will ever be able to coerce or to stop you, you will find no one to blame or accuse, you will do nothing against your will, you will have no enemy, no one will harm you, because no harm can affect you.”


In today’s page of The Daily Stoic book, we are gifted the captivating story of Captain James Stockdale. Author Ryan Holiday relates his amazing experience best, so rather than trying to re-tell it all here, I’ll just let you read it for yourself straight from the source.

It’s an inspiring story of perseverance, yes. But it’s also about focusing on the only thing that is truly yours: yourself!

Epictetus says above that if we spend a lot of energy trying to control what’s not within our control, we’ll be “shackled and miserable”. He’s not wrong, and we’ve all done it, haven’t we? We’ve all spent time in that prison of our own making. We create the trouble for ourselves when we try to control what can’t be controlled.

On the other hand, if we set aside the situation, and let go of the things that we can’t control… then we’ve won half the battle! Focusing on our self and our reactions to situations — as the only thing we can truly control — means that we’ll be impervious to injury, and effectively invincible.

“No harm can affect you” if you simply focus on yourself and let the rest go.

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