“To be, or not to be, a Stoic”
“Sometimes even to live is an act of courage” – Seneca
The Roman stoic Seneca, like many before him that practiced stoicism, believed in the philosophy of rational objectivity and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and circumstance. Many have interpreted this mentality as being cold to emotions, and insensitive to others feelings they deem as weak and unnecessary. This has created a societal mentality of a lack of sympathy and mental health awareness. The stoic would disagree with this paradigm.
Stoicism has a commonality with a type of therapy that many mental health clinics utilize today. This therapy is referred to as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Stoics define life as being indifferent to the life of the individual, but how you react to life’s moments is what defines you as a person. In CBT, therapists focus on changing or mitigating cognitive distortion and behaviors, and work on implementing a more positive life perspective. This is the root of stoicism. Understanding that human emotions are not detrimental but essential to overcoming your life’s adversity. Acknowledging your emotions and using them to better create a more positive outlook on life. Using logic and rationality, coupled with emotional understanding, has helped patients target their negative thoughts and allowed them to begin the healing process.
CBT teaches mental health patients to hone in on those mental distractions and organize their emotional well-being in a positive and healthy manner. Stoicism is a practice that is embraced by the mental health community, however, it has been misinterpreted by those who think mental health is simply a bad attitude. Understand that your life can change through emotional control and an acute understanding of oneself. Therapy allows patients to hone in that understanding, ad allow them to be courageous with the perceived demons they face.