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Stoicism and my breakup

This post has less to do about personal finance but more about what is going in my life recently. Although, one could argue that this has still do with personal finance (as everything does in the end). Healthy relationships is one of the key for a successful financial life. With divorce rate hovering around 50%, and breakup or divorce can affect your happiness as much as your wallet.

I'm been going through a pretty slow motion breakup. Things started going sour about 2 months ago. We started the relationship about 1.25 year ago.

Breaking-up is hard. Especially if the other person breaks up with you. You do feel rejected. You wonder what you did wrong, what happened. How can humans have certain feeling one day and the other day change their mind.

I've trying to apply some of the learning from stoicism.

Experience your emotions

Stoicism tells you to experience your emotions. It is normal to feel sad, feel betrayed, feel jealous, thinking about which other guy she is sleeping with, etc... Acknowledge that this happens to everyone and feeling it now is better than postponing it.

Stoicism tells you that you don't have control on your basic emotions. But you can decide on what you do with them. A few ideas I've been trying recently. Whenever I feel sad about my relationship, I decide to do 10 push-up or a martial art side kick. This way you can deflect your thinking to something else and stop replaying emotions in your mind.

You can also go out for a walk or meditate can help a lot get your ideas straight. Walks are proven to help with depression and they are cheap and easy to do.

Don't be entitled

A common mistake we do is think that the other person belongs to us. Popular culture put this idea in our mind that we "own someone". Stoicism tells us to instead think of all "possessions/relationships" as simply borrowed and you got them returned. You had a great time with them and now you return the relationship so both you can move on with your life. Same applies can be applied to the death of a love one, where you accept they are returning to where they belong. You can only enjoy and be grateful of the time you passed together.

Negative visualization:

Another trick is to be grateful. And the easiest way to be grateful is to practice negative visualization. You use your mind to imagine scenario where you lose basic things you already have such as a your health, house, food, warm bed, work, friends, siblings, etc...

Imagine for a second that you lose your legs. Close your eyes and imagine waking up in the morning, getting in the wheelchair, taking a bath, going in a bar, etc... Now open your eyes and be grateful to be in your situation.

My favorite thing to do is watching a movie like Stalingrad. Stalingrad was the bloodiest war in the WWII and also where the German Army started losing and it turned the war. I can image myself being stuck in this war (on either sides) for months without proper food, trying to fight in the rubles and keeping your sanity. After you realize that our comfy consumerism life is pretty sweat.

Write a joural

Another trick is to write a journal about how you feel everyday.
Write about how your feel. Take a deep breath and listen to your emotions. Write as many details as you can about how your body reacts (butterfly in my stomach, congestion behind my lungs, etc... ) and associate the feeling with it. Feel it well and write it down. Accept that the feeling will happen and just imagine you are here report it like a scientist would do.

You could write about what you think happened. Now every time you think about what you wrote, just refer yourself to the journal to let the thought go away.

Don't regret

Failure is natural, regrets is foolish

Marcus Aurelius famously wrote once :

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

This means that any that can happen to you, whether bad or good needs to be seen as an opportunity. He mentioned practicing virtue.

Everything can be classified as

  • What you control
  • What you don't control

Thinking about a past event or regretting something that happen in your relationship is foolish. Since the event already happened, you can't control it. And this will only bring you frustration and pain. You need to focus on the things you can control.

Another good way to look at it is to consider that all the events that happen in the world are neutral. Your reaction is what causes you happiness or pain. Emotion are created internally.

"We suffer more in imagination than in reality" - Secena

Assume voluntary discomfort

This is by far the most important lessons I got from Stoicism. And this still applies in my situation (with the breakup). Assume you will be sad, you will be disappointed. You can feel it and if it happens again you will know that this is normal (it really happens to everyone).

The more you are comfortable with discomfort, the more you are able to gain the perspective of what you are trying to avoid. Once you realize that what you are trying to avoid is not so bad, then you will have a stronger will and less anxiety.

Finally stoicism is a very powerful way of thinking. The stoic defined practical wisdom as the follow 4 virtues:

  • Wisdom
  • Temperance : Exercise of self-restraint and moderation in all aspect of life.
  • Justice: Treating others with fairness even if they have done something wrong.
  • Courage:

The man suffers before it is necessary

Stoicism Explained Through Conor McGregor

Stoicism Crash course