Fear is Self-imposed Torture

He who indulges in empty fears earns himself real fears.

Seneca

Our thoughts influence how we interpret the world. Napoleon Hill enthusiastically championed the belief that our thoughts were powerful embodiments of our conscious energy. That energy could propel us to new heights as a source of inspiration or it could just as easily hold us back under the weight of our unrestrained fears.

Thoughts mixed with a definiteness of purpose, persistence, and a burning desire are powerful things.

Napoleon Hill

We often trap ourselves in cycles of self-fulfilling prophecies of doom when we spend too much time in our own heads reflecting on everything that is beyond our limited circle of control. If we focus all of our attention on our difficulties, pain, and the obstacles in our way, it won’t be long before that’s all we’ll see in the world.

We end up conditioning ourselves to stop looking for opportunities and solutions to our problems because we erroneously believe that no matter what we do, we’re never going to succeed. We sabotage our chances of success before we even face the next problem. Opportunities soon pass us by unnoticed because we stopped looking for them.

We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.

Seneca

This is a “Do Nothing—Fail at Nothing” mind trap. We can’t let fear hold us back. When we find ourselves in these trying moments, we can reflect on the famed 1988 Nike slogan for some inspiration.

JUST DO IT.

Nike Slogan (1988-Present)

It’s a fitting motto for a company named after the the Greek Goddess of Victory (Nike). So, I like to play with those words and their relationship and think of the maxim as the formula for victory.

Success = Just do it.

Don’t give up. Struggle on. Do something. Keep moving, and eventually we’ll find another opportunity waiting for us.

It Is What It Is

He who indulges in empty fears earns himself real fears.

Seneca

The universe seldom give us everything we want, but it always seems to provide a means to get what we need.

You didn’t have a choice of where you started in life. You got the hand you were dealt and you had to make it work for you. If you’re lucky, you may get a second chance at times—more often than not, you won’t.

It’s helpful to remember that though we do not have complete control over our own life, we can control our response to the experiences we’re given.

Nature isn’t concerned with the individual. You’re one of billions, and there is no cosmic scheme to guide you toward fantasies of destiny or illusions of everlasting happiness. You are the source of your own inspiration or defeat.

You could always lie down and wait for better days to come your way—but they likely won’t. You could also recognize that there is no universal agenda holding you back—you may face obstacles, but you are also not destined for failure. Somewhere, between the obstacles beyond our control and the random luck that makes some moments pass by with ease, is the fallacy of Fate. It’s the lie we tell ourselves when our hardships are greater than our resolve to overcome them or the dream we long to believe that emboldens us to grasp for more when our blessings are at their height.

In then end, there is really only one agenda holding you back—yours. It’s your prerogative to decide how you wish to frame your life.

  • Are you a victim of your experiences or a hero determined to overcome them?

Everyday we can find ourselves in a sea of endless possibilities. Somewhere a tempest is brewing, and it is only a matter of time before it finds its way to us. What are you going to do when disaster or hardship finds you?

  • Will you do nothing and hope for the best?
  • Will you prepare for the worst and be content to face whatever you find?
  • Do you give up and throw away everything because you can’t have it all?

Book Review – Letters from a Stoic by Seneca

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

Letters from a Stoic by Lucius Annaeus Seneca

One has to accept life on the same terms as the…crowds, or travel. Things will get thrown at you and things will hit you. Life’s no soft affair. It’s a long road you’ve started on: you can’t but expect to have slips and knocks and falls….

Seneca, Letter CVII

Seneca’s letters are some of the most diverse and well written essays on the development of character that I’ve come across. I admit that I may be a little biased on this point as I’m coming from the perspective of an English Major, MBA graduate and a philosophy enthusiast—AKA nerd. However, at their core, the Stoic theme of self restraint and reliance are undying principles that have the power to enrich our lives in any century. This is the one book that never grows old and always has something powerful to say about the way we live.

I’m not saying that the material isn’t dated and that you won’t come across cultural norms and taboos that aren’t appropriate in the 21st century. This is a period piece and we need to be cognizant of that reality when we look to the author for ancient Roman insights. The lessons are just as applicable today even if the examples are no longer valid. Seneca lived in a different time, and we have to keep that in mind. We should ask ourselves if Seneca were with us today how would his advice and insights be utilized? What new examples would he come up with to share with us?

What I love about Seneca is that his writings can be envisioned as a personal discussion with you about life and the hardships we face. He’s always a firm voice of reason and gives us a new perspective on the ordinary. He really does have something to say on just about everything, and his letters cover a wide range of topics, but here are some highlights.

  • Aging and Mortality
  • Drunkenness and Overindulgence
  • Illness
  • Keeping up with the Joneses
  • Knowledge vs. Wisdom
  • Luxury and Vanity
  • Overcoming Difficulty
  • Planning for the Unexpected

Really, the best feature of Seneca’s letters are that you can read a new one each night and get a pocket sized dose of daily inspiration to help you live your best life. Every letter is only a few pages long and allows you to access new insights daily. Occasionally, he may begin to ramble, but often that can make you laugh as he catches himself in the letter and apologizes for his loss of precision. It’s as close as you can get to talking with a Roman or a Stoic. Bottomline—Add this one to your shelf and keep it handy for some light reading when life looks a little dreary.