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A car hit me today and I relied on the stoics to get through it.

Credit: Museums Victoria. Unsplash

Finding Strength in Stoicism: Lessons from a Personal Accident

Today, an unexpected experience shook me to my core: I got knocked by a vehicle. The shock didnt’ come until later and when I got sent home, my thoughts began to wander, trying to make sense of the sudden turn of events.

Not one who likes a wandering mind, I fired up Youtube to look for inspiration and it was then that I turned to the ancient wisdom of Stoicism, a philosophy that has guided many through turbulent times.

What is Stoicism?

Stoicism is a Hellenistic philosophy that teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means to overcome destructive emotions. It encourages us to understand what’s within our control and what isn’t, and to focus our energy on the former.

How Stoicism Helped Me Navigate My Accident

1. Dichotomy of Control

The very essence of Stoicism lies in understanding and accepting the difference between things we can control and those we can’t.

There isn’t any way in hell, I could have controlled the vehicle hitting me, but I could control how I reacted, both emotionally and practically.

By focussing on my recovery and learning from the experience, rather than lamenting over the “why me?” aspect, I found a sense of empowerment in a seemingly helpless situation.

2. Memento Mori

Being reminded of our own mortality can be jarring. But the Stoic practice of “Memento Mori” or “remember that you will die” is a humbling reminder to cherish each moment. My accident underscored the unpredictability and fragility of life, pushing me to appreciate the present more deeply.

3. Amor Fati

“Amor Fati” translates to “love of fate.” Instead of resenting the accident and ruminating on the misfortune, I’m learning to embrace it as a part of my life’s tapestry.

It’s not about celebrating adversity but accepting and integrating it into our life’s narrative.

4. View from Above

In the immediate aftermath of the accident, emotions ran high. Utilizing the Stoic visualization of the “View from Above,” I imagined looking at my situation from a distance. This broader perspective made me realize the transient nature of my current pain and troubles, offering solace and clarity. Sometimes I lie on the bed and take on this “view from above”… will quickly realise how small we are on this planet. I find it quite humbling.

5. Inner Fortress

We all possess an inner sanctuary, according to Stoicism, where we remain untouched by external adversities. As I navigated the challenges post-accident, I sought refuge in this space of rationality and calm, ensuring that my reactions were measured and constructive.

Moving Forward with Stoic Wisdom

Accidents and adversities are an inevitable part of our human experience. I have had a fair share of them in my time.

While they can be unsettling and painful at times, putting you out of work or feeling grotty, I turn to philosophies like Stoicism to offer a beacon of hope and strength. By adopting its tenets, we can face challenges head-on, finding resilience and wisdom in the process.

Today’s accident, though unfortunate, has deepened my connection to Stoicism, reminding me of its timeless relevance. As Marcus Aurelius aptly put it, “The obstacle is the way.” Every challenge presents an opportunity for growth, and it’s up to us to harness it.