For every moment of doubt or self reproach it seems Marcus Aurelius’s handbook has an answer. I take funerals in my community to heart – perhaps needlessly, but I feel every death is a failure on my part – needless waste of productive human life that could have changes our world.
Entry 6 from his second book of notes:
“go on abusing yourself, O my soul! Not long and you will lose the opportunity to show yourself any respect. We have only one life to live, and yours [Aurelius] is almost over. Because you have chosen not to respect yourself, you have made your happiness subject to the opinions others have of you.”
“does the news bother you? Do you worry about things out of your control? Then take the time to concentrate your mind in the acquisition of some new and useful knowledge and stop it from flitting about. By the same token, guard against making the mistake of those who keep themselves so busy trying to gain control that they wear themselves out and lose their sense of direction, having no purpose to guide their actions or even their thoughts.”
Another soul searching set of reflections that cut to the heart of a reasoning adult.
What are we if we do not take control of our lives and choose to move forward? Who are we if we lose respect for ourselves, become a sycophant, begging for respect and subject to the opinions and whims of others because we have none for ourselves?
“if it is good to say or do something, then it is even better to be criticized for having said or done it.”
Criticism is natural, normal, expected. Our actions are subject for judgement and review – but the only verdict that makes a difference, the only true verdict is that we give ourselves. To act requires conviction and self respect – that respect is built on confidence and the knowledge that we are acting on what we know to be right. It fuels a desire to better ourselves.
We are only subject to the opinions of others if we allows ourselves to be – If we love respect and confidence in who we are we become nothing more than a faltering shell, a flickering shade – fading into platitudes and empty words to sate and please – achieving empty status without peace and harmony.
Yikes! That’s a lot of strong mojo for a blog dontcha think? Well hold on to your hearts, I’m not finished yet.
I mentioned I internalize the funerals (once a week +- in my catchment) as a personal failure – that said I rely heavily on this 7th note from Aurelius. that failure isn’t my failing as a good human being, or my failing as a human being – that sense of failure is a heated prod, an onus to do better, to focus, specify and make a difference. I can’t control any one roses choices, I can’t stop death, it’s natural and normal – a healthy part of the system. But i can control myself – and more importantly provide resources to guide, shape, and open the gate allowing others to follow a path to better health – happiness – love – and a future of hope and better quality.
So here’s to stepping up – taking charge of yourself and acting to help someone else. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth being criticized, well giving, Changing and sacrificing are definitely criticized but they’re a path to inner peace, self respect and confidence.
When you speak, commit to what you’re saying. When you act, act without fear or question – When you believe, believe with all your heart.
You will be wrong, you may be right… But either way you’ll have acted for you. Not anyone else. You will respect yourself, and be able to accept failure and mistakes as the natural stepping stones to making a better future and a better you.
Go out and do something with confidence, love, and respect for yourself – you’ll find it also gives each of those things to someone else.