Talk like a Stoic

If you ever say, "that was such a stressful situation," you're not talking like a Stoic. To Stoics, emotional stress is generated from within ourselves. It's understandable that at times we evaluate a situation as stress inducing, but from a Stoic perspective we're choosing to stress ourselves out. I definitely use non-stoic phrases all the time. It's part of the way American English speakers talk. We constantly attribute our emotional states to outside influences. That makes me so happy! Stop depressing me. She really pissed me off. None of these statements could be considered reasonable from a Stoic viewpoint. Still, we say them. At least, I know I do. Which has me thinking about how to talk like a Stoic.

 There guys would have great conversations.  Original photo by J.D. Falk.

There guys would have great conversations. Original photo by J.D. Falk.

I'm not concerned with the specialized language that can be found in every group. Many organizations talk in acronyms. Slang peppers the sentences of every sub-culture. Religious people toss off meaning-stuffed words like grace, karma, and forgiveness, that may not unpack fully in the ears of the uninitiated. Stoics can turn to a long list of Greek and Latin terms when talking to one another*. Such specialized language is a useful shorthand. I'm thinking about language that frames a worldview.

Some phrases illuminate our perspective. She really pissed me off. Apparently someone has the power to shape my mental state? Stoicism disagrees. I should instead recognize that, "I felt angry when she said that." That's simply true. I did feel angry. I also have the power to evaluate why I was angry so that in the future I might react more reasonably. And that's the thing I'm working on. I have already incorporated exercises like the evening Review, but I have not been actively aware of my speech. How often do I reinforce the false power of indifferents through my language? How often do all of us?

I'm not advocating stilted speech, just thoughtful use of it. It's simple enough to call on our particular worldview during long discussions about things philosophical. Minute by minute attention to our everyday speech is more taxing. However, I suspect it would pay off. The practice of paying attention to our words could only encourage us to see the world through a more stoic lens.

One last thing. Immoderate Stoic now has a Facebook page all it's own at https://www.facebook.com/TheImmoderateStoic . Clicking the Like button may be a simpler way of keeping tabs on this site rather than coming here and noticing my lazy, lazy posting rate. Not that I don't appreciate people checking up on me. It's motivating!

*It would be unfortunate if any Stoic spent her day constantly spewing Greek into the world, that sort of affectation isn't going to grow our numbers.