Everyone knows the saying: “It’s not important whether you win or lose, what’s important is how you play the game”. When we’re told this we roll our eyes because the only time we ever hear this saying is right after we’ve lost or failed. It has become a term of consolation in defeat, however it hides a much deeper, more profound and practical meaning!
The Stoic Philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome is all about knowing the difference between what is within our power and what is outside of our power. Once we’ve identified what we can and can’t control, the idea is to then only care about what we can control, and to treat everything outside of our power with a kind of indifference, or apathy. After all, we can’t do anything about it so what’s the point in worrying? So when we apply this philosophy to the concept of our actions versus the results of our actions we see something interesting: While we have full control over our actions and intentions, we DO NOT have full control over the end result! And yet we still stress over the results despite having no control!
When we decide to worry only about what we can control, we are empowered. If we are unhappy about something we control (our opinion, perception and actions) we can simply change them and become happy. When we are unhappy about something we don’t control (the weather, other people, global politics etc.) we remain unhappy because we can’t change it. If it’s cloudy I can’t make the sun shine down, so instead of getting upset about the overcast sky I accept it and move my focus to things I do control. The weather is not my business, it is nothing to me. And so it goes for everything else outside of my power.
Why is it so important to know that we don’t control the end result of your intention, and to not care about what ultimately happens? Think of it this way; When an archer aims at a target she takes into consideration the distance to the target, wind speed and direction, her own skill level and any other pertinent data available to her at the time. She then releases the arrow. Now she no longer has any control over the flight of the projectile, she can only witness it’s journey toward the target and hope for the best. Any number of things could happen now, a gust of wind could alter the arrows course, the fletching could come lose and destabilize the arrow or (god forbid) a person or animal could stray into the path of the arrow and be struck. If that were to happen could we really blame our fictional archer for the accident? Should she blame herself? Her intention was to hit a target, not a living creature, and the only part she had control over was her intention, not the actual outcome.
Should someone get away with killing someone if they were drunk driving? After all it was not there intention to kill someone, only to drive while under the influence of alcohol. Of course not, people will be held accountable for their crimes even if it was not their intention at the time. A crime is a crime and will be enforced regardless. But on a personal level, to improve our level of happiness we can use this technique: Relinquishing all the worry, stress, guilt, shame and pain associated with things you have no control over. You are not supposed to be feeling that pain, you can let go of it if you want to!
So let’s look at the 3 Reasons Why The Results of your Actions Don’t Matter:
1. You’re Beating Up The Wrong Guy: When you beat yourself up about something you don’t control you’ve made a mistake and accused the wrong person! Let’s say you go for a job interview and you don’t get the job. Just like the archer, once you’ve done your research, written your CV, practiced all your interview skills and done your best in the interview itself, that’s your job done. Your intention was to get the job, but it was company that turned you down, so why are you beating yourself up? Does the archer feel bad because the wind blew their arrow off target? Of course not! It’s the employer’s fault you didn’t get the job, not yours. The only thing you can judge is your own performance, your own part. If you did your best be proud of our efforts! If you learned something through the experience make sure you apply the lesson in your next interview.
2. It’s Not Your Stress: Why are we so eager to add to our stress levels? Not only do we stress out about our own actions and words, we stress out about everything we can’t control as well! When you put a letter in a mailbox that’s it, you no longer control it’s fate. This is fantastic news, people! Every thing that is outside of our control does not need to be worried about, in fact when we worry about the actions of another we are selfishly taking on their stress as well! Let it go, that’s not your stress, don’t be greedy. Think of everything you don’t control and release any stress, pain or worry that’s associated with it. This counts for past events too. Are you feel other people’s guilt and shame? Well stop, that’s for them, focus only on the part you played in any given situation.
3. Stress Is Not Empathy: Empathy is important. When we can relate to other people by feeling what they feel we become closer and have a richer human experience. But remember, what we feel is a representative feeling in ourselves. We see their tears and we remember in our bodies how we once felt like that, we see the joy on their faces and our face reciprocates, sharing in the emotion. However so often we go too far, we fool ourselves into thinking we must stress for others when there’s nothing we can do to remedy the situation because it’s not our stress to begin with. Stress exists to bring attention to something you can change or fix. If you’re stressing over something you can’t fix you are ripping yourself off.
You can drastically reduce your stress by relinquishing your emotional investment in the results of your actions. Be diligent, take aim as best you can, but when you let go of that arrow it’s no longer your business. Don’t take pride if it hit’s the target and don’t sulk if it misses. Take pride in your efforts only, take pride in a job well done, in doing your best, in maintaining a balanced outlook and an honest, authentic approach to your life. Give yourself a slap on the wrist if you know you could have done better, but don’t wallow in self pity, learn and do better next time.
And above all stop being greedy and selfish. Allow the forces of nature to stress about the weather, allow the world leaders to stress about the geopolitical landscape and allow everyone else to stress over their own actions Don’t be afraid to try things and take risks, you only need to worry about your intention, not the outcome. That will take care of itself
Thanks for reading! All the best ^_^
- How To Have Everything You Want, Today!
- You Do Not Need To Fulfill Your Desires, Your Desires Must Fulfill You!
- How To Silence Self Critical Inner Voices!
- I Think Therefore I Feel: An Introduction To Stoic Philosophy
- Conquering Your Fear Of Rejection: 99 Steps to Success!
Click the book titles to visit their Amazon pages, read the reviews, and sample or purchase the books.