The Daily Stoic for June 14th. “Try The Other Handle”.
“Every event has two handles—one by which it can be carried, and one by which it can’t. If your brother does you wrong, don’t grab it by his wronging, because this is the handle incapable of lifting it. Instead, use the other—that he is your brother, that you were raised together, and then you will have hold of the handle that carries.”
—EPICTETUS, ENCHIRIDION, 43
During our lifetime, we tend to do the same mistakes, over and over again. To some extent, it’s because of our education, our parents, the things we experienced at home when we were children or the place where we grew up.
It’s said that women that witnessed their fathers abusing their mothers will more likely choose an abusive husband.
Of course, this isn’t just limited to learned behaviors during our childhood. We are very complex creatures, especially at an emotional level, and we tend to fall into the same pitfalls when our emotions take over us, consciously or unconsciously.
Try The Other Handle
Can stoicism help?
In my opinion, it definitely can. Of course, stoicism is just a tool, like many others, and no tool is bulletproof. We need to do a conscious effort to apply it and be willing to overcome our natural vices and prejudices.
This “other handle” can be something as simple as taking a moment to stop, think and give a different answer. Or perhaps swallowing your pride and instead of letting your ego react to a situation, do just the opposite.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during this personal stoic trip is how large my ego was (and probably still is). That large, in fact, that affected negatively lots of my usual reactions and answers to everyday situations. Things like always needing to be right, or showing off how smart or wise I was, even when I convinced myself that I was being humble.
I’m still in the process of learning and discovering myself, and that’s something I love about this journey.
Today’s Daily Stoic: “Try The Other Handle”, asks us to look at things differently and, instead of repeating our usual behavior patterns, “try the other handle” to avoid falling again and again in the same pitfalls.