Dear Aphrodite, This Saturn-Neptune square is throwing my normally positive Sagittarius upbeat self for a loop. I’ve been downright negative. Things that usually bring me joy, my healing work and socializing, aren’t. All I want to do is go to work and come home. That’s so not me! What am I supposed to be getting from this? Signed, downhearted Sag
Dear Downhearted Sag, To answer your question, I’m taking a page from the Stoics- a branch of philosophy that flourished for some 400-odd years in Ancient Greece. This philosophy had one goal in mind: To help good people like you maintain a level of equilibrium during times of discouragement, despair, anxiety and overwhelming distress. Here are four problems the Stoics can help with (summarized from the School of Life’s blog).
- Anxiety. Most of us, when met with difficulty and disaster, receive platitudes from friends, ie, “it’s the darkness before the dawn” and “look on the positive!” hoping that such aphorisms will lift us up. It usually doesn’t. The Stoics opposed this approach saying that it would only create extremes of mood. Rather, they suggest we take time to deliberately embody our worst-case scenarios. This work isn’t for the weak, and can be quite extreme in practice. Is your worst fear being homeless, friendless, penniless? Why not try that out? It’s kind of like homeopathy for the soul. A little bit of poison can cure us. On a related side note, Tim Ferris, successful person extraordinaire, took a page from the Stoics right here. He attributes this single act of focusing on your fears, not goals, to his current success!
- Fury. We all get angry but the Stoics say anger is naïve because at it’s root is an “incorrect picture of existence.” The Stoics define anger as “the violent collision of hope and reality” –and let’s face it that collision happens all the time. We can’t avoid it. The solution for this is reaching a state where nothing can disturb us… which essentially means we learn to hold the big picture of life. Life consists of suffering, loss and disillusionment, along with the good stuff for good measure and balance. Tragedy, sorrow, misfortune… it’s part of the full meal deal.
- Paranoia. After a spate of “bad luck” or misfortune we can fall into the habit of thinking the world is out to get us. The Stoics insist we understand that our life is in the hands of Fortuna: “a demented character who… depending on her mood might throw you down a perfect job or beautiful relationship and the next minute, simply because she felt like it, watch you choke to death on a fishbone.” Now that really puts it all in perspective, right? Seeing as how our fortunes are in the hands of such a whimsical, quixotic creature, they likewise suggest you go gentle on your self about your failures and hold lightly to your successes.
- Loss of Perspective. Speaking of perspective, we all suffer times when our little life seems so tragically big. The Stoics suggest “we must regularly be reduced in our own eyes” as a necessary preventative against our own self-importance. In other words, we must regularly attempt to disavow our selves of the illusion that we are really are *all that*. Beautifully, all we need to do is look up at the night sky, the planets and stars, to calmly and peaceably come to grips with our own insignificance. “Nothing that happens to us, or that we do, is – blessedly- of any consequence whatsoever from the cosmic perspective.”
Blessings, Aphrodite and Jessica