Stoic Living for the Modern Soul

Stoic Living for the Modern Soul

Below are excerpts from my book Stoic Living for the Modern Soul. The book is available on Amazon and CreateSpace.

From Book One: Introduction

(pg. 2) This work aims to show you what/when/how stoic approaches to life may be useful. I will endeavor to correct what I think are some misunderstandings and caricatures of stoicism which one often encounters. In brief, I write this work as a modern stoic, who lives and breathes. In order to answer the question “What is stoicism?” I can only report from what my eyes, spirit, and experience have told me.

(pg. 2) Stoicism can be a mental exercise or it can be a way of life to be embraced. Those who choose to embrace it live close to their virtue and reason. As Seneca has put it, virtue itself is right reason. A stoic life may offer a beacon of hope in a dark world largely ruled by fears and desires. Yet stoicism is misunderstood and might be any number of other things.

(pg. 6) There are many attributes of a stoic that could be discussed, but the primary point is that stoicism may not be what we may have supposed. It is not an ivory tower into which one disappears to turn away from life. On the contrary, it is embracing life in a manner more fully than one had before. To face the anxieties, pain, and suffering in such a way as to no longer be controlled by them is truly liberating. To engage in eating, sex, exercise, and work in more meaningful and straightforward ways is empowering and removes extraneous psychological clutter from one’s existence. I put it to you that to live a stoic life is to embrace a clear ray of sunshine in what was once a dark pit. This pit was one we created ourselves, fueled by our endless yearnings to appease a fragile ego.

(pg. 8) There is no one correct way to follow such advice, just as there is no one correct way to live a stoic life. The philosophy is flexible and adaptable to any situation because it is not concerned with specifics. In every situation we have the opportunity to, ‘be good’, as Marcus Aurelius suggest. What this means from day to day, from hour to hour, is not measured by one set of rules. There are no commandments to adhere to. What one must learn to adhere to is one’s inner nature, the voice that we are imbued with if we will listen to it. An equally important and powerful part of what he says is that we not play the hypocrite. In this way, Marcus Aurelius reminds us that, while we are to listen to our inner voice, we must not take advantage of it so that we may do ill, claiming all the while that we are following our inner nature. For while we may commit an ill blindly and out of ignorance, to do so willingly and with knowledge would make us hypocrites.

From Book Two: Regarding the body

(pg. 12) Your body is a vessel, yet your intellect and reason must be the guide. To let one’s body rule and guide itself without oversight can lead to its destruction. The body is as a child that needs its parents to establish its habits, rules, and goals before it is able to do so itself. Look around you and it will be easy to see those whose bodies run amok, unguided by reason and sound judgment. You may even see this in yourself if you look closely and without bias.

From Book Three: Regarding the mind

(pg. 19) Like the body, the mind must be exercised and kept fit. You must look at yourself each day and hold yourself to a high standard. As you develop habits in this you will be better able to stay true and keep yourself honest. And yet, again, we all change throughout time. We may not know today what tools we will need tomorrow in order to keep ourselves humble and true. This is why we embrace principles. To develop particular routines only would be a failure. Our principles adapt and can be extrapolated to our changing life circumstances. Through our principles we are able to remain true to ourselves and thus true to the universal in us as well as our fellow man.

(pg. 21) Freedom is available to you at any moment. Your mind is capable of providing a release from what torments you. But be careful that you not use your mind to escape, for there is no freedom in that. Only when we confront our torments and embrace them may we be free of them. It is in the running and avoidance of those things that they catch us and hold us fast. However we squirm, we are caught and going nowhere.

(pg. 24) I submit to you that as your perspective grows, so will your anguish diminish. As you understand others more thoroughly it becomes less easy to hate them and dismiss them as evil. They may do evil deeds, but they are still human. What good will it do you to add to the evil of their deeds by carrying anger and hatred within you? It is your choice. Your mind will be perturbed by such thoughts. Your emotions will remain anxious and fearful.

(pg. 28) The mind is the most flexible and useful tool we have. Adaptable to any situation, any problem, any grief. The greatest quality our mind may have is honesty. To see ourselves clearly, to see others clearly, and to see our reality clearly, these are our goals. It is in seeing ourselves clearly that we become aware of what we are able to achieve, what our faults are, and what our strengths are. To see others clearly is to see them as human beings, including their faults and weaknesses. In doing so we no longer consider them evil, nor do we consider them objects. In this way we may deal with other men fairly. And finally, in seeing our reality clearly we may understand what we may change and what we may not. This awareness is chief in our goals. The clarity of mind which makes this possible is our goal. By daily asking ourselves honest questions and not settling until we find honest answers is the way in which we achieve it. Learning from and then moving past our many failures is our duty.

From Book Four: Regarding the spirit

(pg. 29) Some say that there is little joy in a stoic life. To those I would reply: you may not know what a stoic life is made of. For is not contentment a primary fixture of such a life? The act of appreciating each moment for what it is; the actions of a stoic man undertaken to remain ethical and upright, these are things of joy indeed.

From Book Five: Regarding the living of life

(pg. 31) Today there are many distractions pushing us and pulling us. We focus on tiny screens more than we do our fellow humans. We check our tiny accounts and leave the larger accounts in front of us untended. This is foolish. Our lives are around us and in front of us. They do not, on the whole, exist on these screens yet we often behave as if it were so. Though these devices may serve some purpose to us we should be careful how much energy we put to them. Make effort to rid yourself of the distractions which you do not truly need. Some may benefit you more than others and it is your task to understand which are beneficial and which are not. You may be surprised when you see how hollow a thing is, after truly looking at it.

(pg. 52) Consider that it behooves some to convince you to behave one way rather than another. Yet, is that way in your own best interest? Is it in the best interest of your family, or your country? You must prepare your mind daily to be aware of what is being thrown at you. Like a shield your mind must remain vigilant to guard against unwelcome messages. If you wish to remain chaste, understand that there are many images put in front of you encouraging you to end your chastity. And so on. Hold onto your center and your ideal of what you most value and consider at all moments if you are behaving according to your virtue or according to some conditioning.

These excerpts © 2014 Dmitri Mandaliev. All rights reserved.

Brian and Peter, a new book by Michael Byc

Below is an excerpt from Michael Byc’s new book, “Brian and Peter the tale of a transcendent friendship”. The talented Mr. Byc is looking for an illustrator for this work, so if you’re interested please contact him by way of his twitter here.

This is a moment that can ruin or build a boy’s reputation. How one responds to the gyrations of a girl at a party is a do or die moment. Brian was oblivious to Kimberly’s test of his prowess with girls.

However, Peter understood. He knew action must be taken. So, he poked Kimberly in the back.

Kimberly immediately turned around and looked at Brian. He was pale with embarrassment and fright. “I didn’t know that you liked me, I’m glad! I really like you too.” Then on tippy toes she gave Brian a peck on the lips.

With his first kiss, Brian was no longer afraid of spending time with a girl in a closet. As luck would have it, he was able to spend most of his time with Kimberly in the dark. She also offered him many boobertunities, which he was more than happy to pamper.

From that moment on Peter and Brian were best friends. The world would become their oyster and Peter would always push Brian to shuck it.

Brian, my friend it’s time to rise
The sun is up and its gorgeous outside
Birds are chirping and deer graze
Before the day begins, an urge must subside

I must say you had some vivid dreams
That last night gave me a good pump
I’m about to blow to smithereens
All this buildup I need to dump

Times-a-wasting so load up the computer
Maybe a vid of a student that fucks her tutor?
Or would you prefer to multitask while you shower?
Imagining a fantasy where an ass you deflower?

It’s high time you made up your mind
I’m throbbing and veiny, with balls blue
Damn it, hurry and lower the window blind
Before I go ahead and make some homemade roux.

Perversions and deceits

Emily closed the bathroom door and sat down on the toilet, weeping. Just two days after her 30th birthday, he’d finally left her. Only this time was for good. He’d never committed to her, had never been monogamous either. She’d put up with all of it, because he was her man. At least that’s what she told herself. And that was the most twisted part. Deep inside, she always believed that he would ultimately commit to her.

That was why she put up with it for so long. All of it. Depraved sex, crawling around like an animal. She enjoyed it, of course, but there was always a voice inside her that knew he was looking down upon her, that she was debased. The times she would smell other women on him. Sucking him off and wondering if he’d just washed another girl off of him. Finding another girl’s thong or panties in his bathroom. Being a girl she knew they were not there by accident. If she could find the bitch she would strangle her. Seeing used condoms in the trash. You’d think he would at least have the decency to throw those out and not rub it in her face. Then there were the times she’d see him out with other girls. The jealousy would build, she was sure her face must be turning red, so she’d get away as quickly as possible. Always, she hoped he hadn’t seen her. Then later, she’d picture him fucking that fake plastic bitch, moaning and eagerly taking what was hers. She’d imagine them laying there afterwards. Did he talk about her? Did he say, “so I got this bitch Emily, let’s me fuck her any time I want, does shit for me, and here I am fucking you”? Did they have a second round after laughing about it, or high five-ing? These images played in her mind as her stomach turned to acid. Some days were good and some days were very bad.

But whenever she got upset she had to cool herself down always, suppressing her emotions. After all, he’d been clear up front, right? So she had to just accept it and try not to let things out. Only they would come up again and again. And any time she brought up wanting to be exclusive, or asking him to throw the fucking condoms out, he would become angry, and she would feel afraid. He’d even disciplined her for it. She became a child in those moments and a part of her was melting inside, her entire self-worth becoming self-loathing.

So here she sat, alone, used, and feeling ruined. It wasn’t so much that he left her, it was how he looked at her when he broke it off. The look that told her he had no respect for her. That she was worthless because she let him use her. And it was how he explained things to her. The words were long gone in a grey haze of disbelief, but the gist was,

Look, I’ve never really loved you. The truth is I’ve never really respected you either. I mean, you’ve let me fuck you any way I want, any time I want and haven’t respected yourself enough to demand more from me. I’ve fucked other girls then fucked you after, then told you to make me a sandwich, and you fucking did. What’s wrong with you? I mean, of course I was enjoying it. But I’ve realized it was just a phase. What I actually want, and what I need, is a girl who respects herself. A girl who can be a good mother to my children. How could you possibly be a role model for them? Not just some fuck toy with no backbone who jumps when I speak and asks, how high?

So she sat, and wept. She ran the bath water. She stepped in, clothes on. What did it matter? Used. Spent. Damaged. Done.

Stoic Living for the Modern Soul

My book on stoicism.

Letters to a young man 33

As a man gets older, his parents’ health starts to deteriorate. A knee or hip needs to be replaced, a shoulder is sprained by lifting something. Something which is heavy now, which wasn’t yesterday. Bones grow fragile. Confident strides change to hesitant foot falls. Care wears heavier on their faces, despite the joy they have for life. Age is getting the better of them, making them feeble as death looms on the horizon. You see their end coming and know that yours is not far behind.

Fathers become weak and there is a point in every man’s life when he realizes that his father can no longer take him. What was once a boyhood dream, of being able to take on the father and win, is now a reality—not a joyous one. The son becomes the protector, the caretaker, the steward, and shepherd, replacing his father. No longer able to rest easy on the assumption that ‘dad will take care of it’, a son soon realizes that he must take the reigns of the family. It’s not that the father is decrepit, no, he is still a force. The family still defers to him. He is still the king alongside the mother, the queen. Yet, the unspoken truth is that the son has now assumed the throne and must take care of things. This is the mantle of responsibility and you soon learn how it feels. You understand how men seem care-worn under their family responsibilities.

This is what you’ve been practicing for and training for your whole life. At least for the last ten years or so. So now it is time for you to step into the role you were meant to play. Once the son, now the father, and now the steward of the family. Plans and decisions must be made. Difficult ones, those regarding health and death. As each day goes by you replace one individual care and aspiration for a family one. For every plan you have there may arise a family matter which needs attending. You resist at first, these changes will take time. Yet, you know eventually what waits as death looms.

So I advise you to take a look at what you are and what you’re doing. Life rushes by. The cares you have today will be gone tomorrow. Even the aspirations of today may fade in time. Do not follow the herd off a cliff into an abyss. Your own voice tells you where to go. You see a snippet of your future in your parents’ future, or at least a possible future. The regrets they have, for things done and not done, surround them at times. With any luck they will let go of them and live in the moment, the last moments they have being ticked off one by one each day.

Farewell for now.

Stoic Living for the Modern Soul

My book on stoicism.

Letters to a young man 32

Hello my friend. It’s good to get your letter and hear your kind words. That I am of some help to you is my reward, that is to say, it is above and beyond the reward of writing you itself. For your kindness and that you would share that with me, I am thankful.

Now, to the points you’ve raised and asked about. You ask further about regrets and failures from your past, the kind that shake your very confidence in being a man, the kind that shake your very confidence in being you. You even feel that your dreams have fallen away because of decisions you’ve made as a young man.

I have been faced with letting go of certain dreams from my youth. It has been quite difficult, but I had to accept certain realities. Some might say it is settling for less, for me it has been a matter of accepting realities and moving forward. The good news is that I’ve survived and flourished, found new dreams and aspirations. And ultimately, if I’m honest, I’ve changed: the younger dreams seem more like mirages to me now than anything I would want to attain. So perhaps the answer is: time and change; with a healthy dose of acceptance. Acceptance for your own limitations and failures. Accept those and yourself fully, for no man is perfect. Many men have famously counted the number of failures they had before their “big success”, so do not worry too much over it.

Having said these things if you feel the drive and spirit to take on a thing and see it to completion, then do so. If the thoughts of that early dream still haunt you because you feel compelled to do take on the dream, inquire of yourself why this is. If you find nothing lacking in your answer then gather yourself together and set about achieving it. However, if you find that there is something lacking, that you only want a thing because you don’t have it (for example), then set that dream aside. Realize that it may be taking up energy and focus that could be used on other things. Therefore, take care to know yourself and why you want a thing.

You’ve also asked me how a man who has many failed relationships, and who has embraced stoicism, is to connect with women when he can’t feel a connection to them. I don’t think stoicism and relationships are incompatible. I’ve been through more than one failed relationship. In a trite way, to quote a TV series: It’s not about love, it’s about what you’re willing to do for it. I think there is much truth in that. If you meet a woman who is different than many you have met, and perhaps if you go through certain changes of perspective, you will be able to love a woman again, and to commit to her. I don’t think it’s ‘blue pill foolishness’ as long as you have your eyes open and she is worthy of your love. If she respects you and loves you and cares for you, then she is worthy. As to monogamy, it’s possible and a worthwhile goal if it has meaning for you. If a man strays with his flesh he need not tell his woman or beat himself up about it endlessly. Instead, he should learn from the experience as much as possible. Then he can decide if it’s truly a mistake and contrary to his nature or part of his nature. This struggle is part of being human and being a man. We are all different. We all struggle in this way until we find our nature.

Keep your chin up and hold your head high. You have accomplished much and have many things to be proud of. That you may have failed in the past or set down earlier dreams is of no real consequence given that you think on such things and have a quest for self-improvement. Carry your spirit with you at all times and remember that it is there for you as a font of inspiration.

Farewell for now.

Stoic Living for the Modern Soul

My book on stoicism.

Enveloped in Hong Kong 1

The ferry tipped almost far enough for water to enter the lower deck, but careened back the other direction just before it could breach. An old style junk was headed across the ferry’s path and for a moment Shan Tao actually panicked, imagining a collision.

Why are all of the life-jackets in plastic bags?

He imagined the girl to his left scrambling to tear open the thick plastic while water surrounded her ankles, calves, then her knees. She’d be gasping for air from the panic long before the water reached her neck. His hand gripped his wife’s thigh a little tighter which she noticed and looked up to him.

“Do you think we will hit it?”

This wasn’t an idle question. Not too long ago many had died in a nighttime collision. With the night’s rough waters it was easy to imagine the chaos and death of that night. The water dark and freezing, arms flailing about and reaching for anything to hold on to. The crew shaken and in disbelief, then struggling to manage the situation. Water coming in from every direction. Life vests stored in tidy bins where no one would ever need them.

His eyes went back to the girl and wondered if he would be able to help his wife, himself, and the girl as well. Or would he have to let her fend for herself? Where were her parents and why was she crossing the harbor alone?

Shan Tao held his breath a moment as the ferry tipped again and then rocked back. The junk was clearing their path as the ferry had slowed to let them pass. Crisis and collision averted. He could breath a little easier. His wife had been squeezing his hand and lessened her grip, blood pressure slacking as the tension of the moment passed. Only a few minutes left until they reached Tsim Sha Tsui.

At the other side the ferry operator had to work the engines in order to get the side of the vessel up against the pier. As people lined up to disembark they were tossed back and forth. Shan Tao felt a little sick, which was new for him. He’d not been on a boat which had listed so bad before and even against the pier it was heaving to such a degree that he thought he might vomit. But the gangplank went down and he managed to get off the ferry with wife and dignity intact.

Crowds were denser than usual, the Christmas shopping traffic bringing millions into the city for tax free shopping, warmer weather, family visits, good food, and myriad other reasons people find themselves in Hong Kong in December. Tour groups with badges huddled in masses, migrant workers from Malaysia on the streets eating out of Styrofoam bowls, Indians hawking watches and suits, Russians, Australians, British, Americans—all shopping and drinking. Strangers weaving back and forth as you try to pass, or walking three wide on a sidewalk big enough for two. Crowds gathering on a closed street for a flash mob by school children in Santa hats, complete with a Santa and Gingerbread man. People on the sidewalk of this street pushing and beginning to yell, and this is Christmas eve.

They approach the church and find there is a long line, weaving all the way around the opposite side of the church and back to the entrance. They queue up and wait, walking forward bit by bit as people are seated. Behind them two British women talk in their characteristic way, accents unmistakable, commenting on everything and unable to enjoy the silence of the moment. Christmas silence. Eventually they arrive at the entrance only to be told that it is full and that they must go to auxiliary seating. They go and find their seats in the back. They sing, and pray, and feel Christmas in a way that they haven’t in some time. Then they leave and go back into the fray of Hong Kong’s Christmas, but with lighter hearts and minds.

Past all of the bustle of TST, past the crowds, past the shopping, past the endless sales and displays, past the incredibly high and lit up Christmas trees—past all of this there is a peace as Shan Tao and his wife enter Hung Hom where the tourism ends and normal living life begins. In this peace as they walk along the street holding hands, still in bustle, there is a Christmas silence. It’s internal but it is still there. No words necessary as Christmas envelops them.

Letters to a young man 31

Hello my friend. I’m writing on the cusp of one year’s end and another’s beginning, I hope this finds you well.

You asked me to write to you on dealing with regret. It is at this time of year when you may find yourself looking back over the year that’s just passed and also looking forward to the one about to start. Numerous opportunities may have presented themselves which you did not seize. And perhaps you have taken actions which you look back on and wish you hadn’t. I know both of these well.

I cannot say with certainty which has troubled me more in life. At one point I might have told you that it was failing to seize opportunities. But in hindsight, I believe this was something I felt mostly as a younger man. And in truth, I think this makes sense and is as it should be: for when young, you are striking out on your own and trying to make something happen with life.

Yet, as I get older it is the mistakes I make that trouble me most. Perhaps it is because I see how easily I might have avoided them. Perhaps I gave into some desire, or gave into anger too easily. Damage can be done quickly and is very slow to heal. And, perhaps because I can see how I’ve developed that such simple mistakes seem such a waste of life and effort. If you make mistakes more than once they trouble you doubly as you feel more and more foolish for repeating them. Eventually, you see the trap set before you have stepped on it, but it may be a long time coming. In this way we are reminded of how little we know. We think we have a thing figured out and then behave like a fool once again.

In any event, you didn’t ask me to ruminate about my own foolishness. You asked me about dealing with regret. It is difficult for me to unwind the two as they are inextricably linked for me. So I will tell you this:

The first thing is to recognize that you are but a man and bound to have failures. Whether this is from lack of action or wrong action, the feeling of regret may sting you. Yet ask yourself: Did the great men of the ages never make mistakes? Did Verus not fail to send Marcus Aurelius to the armies to experience battle and soldering? Certainly he left his adopted son and later emperor ill-equipped for what laid ahead of him. Did Marcus himself never err? These great men of the ages, pick one it doesn’t matter who, have all had a hand in some failure of action or inaction. Do you expect more of yourself? To raise such a bar and hold yourself to it is too cruel. You must be lenient and forgiving of yourself—that is the first thing. And of course you should expect failures from those you love most. Deal with them with leniency and forgiveness.

But this is only the first step, the acceptance. To look coldly on your error and not to wince. For if you look away, you are likely to stumble on it once again. This won’t do. So, having looked at yourself squarely, you must commit yourself to learning from the mistake. You must commit to doing better at your next opportunity. Yet be mindful of the fact that you may trip up again. Maybe not as wholly, maybe in a different way, but it may happen nonetheless. Do not despair if this happens, but remember what I have told you. You are no different than the great men of the ages in your errors. However, to distinguish yourself you must stay vigilant and honest in your endeavors to remain upright and true. Do not allow yourself to play the hypocrite. With each few steps forward you take, you may fall down. Rise again and take a moment to reflect, then carry on. Life is such.

I wish you all the best as this year comes to a close. May the next year teach you much.

Farewell for now.

Stoic Living for the Modern Soul

My book on stoicism.

Letters to a young man 30

Hello my friend. Of late I have been very busy. As I’ve told you I am working on a new piece, my longest and perhaps my most important utterance. If I accomplish nothing else, that I finish it is of great importance to me. Yet, it is difficult to finish as I’m always learning more—being ignorant has its merits—for each day I become aware of how little I know. Understanding blossoms in this way. And of course I’ve been busy with husbandry, with work, and with common tasks. Just today I darned a sock which I’d worn a hole in. Some may say this is women’s work, and while it may often be work for the wife, as I’ve told you before a man must be self-sufficient and prepared. There is no shame in being able to take care of one’s self.

But enough of my excuses to you for not writing sooner. Recently I have recalled a friend I have not seen for some time. We met often to talk and discuss philosophy, our lives, our successes, and our troubles. On more than one occasion I acted as teacher. Though he is a little older than I he has steeped in his own misery and ignorance and has often sought my guidance. I do not look down on him in the slightest, let me be crystal clear about that. It is just the way it is between us. Many of my friends and closest counsels are much older, but there are times when a man is your junior yet has some wisdom to share with you. To increase your understanding you must take it from whichever well it comes from.

One such occasion has recurred to me and some of your recent events have made its import to you clear to me. On this night we were discussing some problem which he had, one of many at the time. I remember recommending some course of action. No sooner had the words left my lips than I saw him squint his eyes at me and recoil a bit. He then began to stammer and speak quickly to the point of refusing my advice. He became defensive at it. I did not labor my point further, but listened patiently to him as I quickly realized something that had escaped my grasp prior.

That which I grasped was this: a man may not be ready for certain ideas, solutions, or counsel, no matter if it be the solution which he ultimately requires. You cannot feed a man a cure if he cannot see the need for it. Rather than trying some new way to feed it to him, such as with honeyed words, it is best to remain silent, to hear him out and be a good and patient, listening friend than to force something to him. If you force it, he will not take it and will resent you. In time you may see that he has come around, or is ready for your counsel. Until then, you must remember he is your friend more than he is your pupil. Your key aim is to help him when he requires it rather than constantly admonishing him like some headmaster.

And so it is that you may often see men on some path you know well. They are rejoicing though you can see a coming fall. Very well then, let them. Do not spoil their fun. Let them go about their business. For who are we to say a thing when the thing is not ripe to be said? In all things keep an eye on yourself as much as you keep an eye on others. In this way you may learn and grow and be of most service to them. When they need you, they will call and they may even say to you, “My friend, remember when you said thus and so? How I wish I had listened then, but I was not ready to hear them.” And you may reply in true and affectionate kindness to him, “Not at all, brother, I didn’t have the words you needed then as much as your ears were not ready.”

And finally, lest you think I have forgotten your question to me regarding how a man should behave towards his wife, or a woman he may wish to make a wife: I will be brief and ask you to wait for my coming work which will answer you more fully. Be a shepherd to your wife as to your children. Guide them and enjoy the fruits that they give you. Shield them from the troubles of life. Be patient and kind with them above all others, for they are the jewel of a man’s life.

Keep well and take care. Farewell for now.

Stoic Living for the Modern Soul

My book on stoicism.

Letters to a young man 29

Hello my friend. You’ve written to ask my advice. You tell me how you meet a girl, get to like her, and start to get close. Then you begin to feel paranoid that she will leave you, cheat on you, and so on. You tell me that a girl has never done this to you, but you suspect it is due to some childhood trauma or low self-esteem. Then, out of this desperation you cheat on the girl, a preemptive strike as you put it, and she finds out. Then it’s over. You ask me,

“HOW do I stop the fear? The panic? The negative thoughts?”

Firstly, let me tell you that I’ve done the same thing in my past. I look at it as sabotaging the relationship. There could be many reasons why you’re doing it. The paranoia that she’s going to cheat may be a masking over the general fear of losing her and so you do the preemptive strike. Perhaps there are signs that she’ll cheat. Perhaps they’re all invented in your mind.

A central problem is a lack of understanding of what’s going on within. This is just one manifestation of that problem. In what other ways might it be holding you back? Do you also sabotage employment or entrepreneurial opportunities? Do you fail to meet your potential in other regards because of this inner problem? Until you uncover the source of your issues, and uproot that source, your problems will continue to grow and cast a shadow on your life. Remember that you have much to work with that is positive. In allowing the darkness to take hold you are forgetting the inner strength that is always available. You may not see it— it may take much time, pain, and effort before you are able to see it and wield it.

I’ll offer up this advice: it’s running from the fear which is controlling you and getting the best of you. You should let it engulf you. What I mean is that you should try and sit with your fear and panic. Don’t try to escape it. This is counter to every impulse you have, but you need recognize that following your normal impulses is leading you astray. For example, doing a preemptive strike is your way of trying to escape the possible outcome that she will leave you. This is all driven by your fear. These things feed on one another. Therapy was very good for me in dealing with these things and you should not shy away from it. I can also very much recommend reading stoic philosophy— there are links to works by Seneca and Marcus Aurelius on my blog. My book End Game may be of some benefit as well. Ultimately, reading is just one part of a whole. You must include taking stock of yourself and in trying to understand what is causing the fear and panic in the first place. Then, in letting it take hold you begin to eliminate its power over you.

As the saying goes, “Lose the battle and win the war”.

I am writing a new book that I hope will shed some further light on the process as I have experienced it. Let me close by saying that you have better within you than you may think: in order to find it you need stop everything and sit quietly until your grief and loss subside.

Farewell for now, my friend.

Stoic Living for the Modern Soul

My book on stoicism.