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Personal Narrative: Stoicism

Living like a stoic was hard, let me tell you. Stoicism takes a lot of self control and restraint to execute properly. I chose to not overindulge myself, and to focus on applying negative visualization and self-control to my life. At the end of the night I would write down if something was hard or problematic that correlated with my new found Stoic life. Day two reads “I was hungry this afternoon and The Nest was closed. I had to restrain myself from going to Taco Bell and so I just settled with a quesadilla and tortilla chips from The Den.

I wrote down a lot of similar things to that almost every day, whether it was the urge of Taco Bell or Piada, or just wanting to quit swimming or yoga. Not allowing myself to overindulge was hard. I didn’t eat any cookies or any sweets, drink Starbucks or buy any food that did not require a meal swipe. My friends would want to get ice cream, Starbucks or go to Insomnia Cookies and when we went and I didn’t get anything, they thought I was sick. I had to tell them what I was doing and how I was living my life for two weeks, they looked at me like I was crazy, but I understood because if I were one of them I would’ve thought the same thing.

Even though it was hard, I think by not doing any of those things, I did in fact save a lot of money, but I do think I just replaced the overindulgence to another aspect of my life. In the middle of the two weeks, I bought a really expensive dress. My explanation to myself was “Well, I haven’t really treated myself lately. ” It sounds dumb, but it happened. It happened a couple times to tell you the truth. I used the idea that I couldn’t overindulge through food and that didn’t mean not to with clothes, which was wrong looking back, but it’d okay.

Living like a Stoic did help me though I think mentally. It made me shift myself more into yoga. I don’t know why, but I started enjoying yoga a lot more. The concepts that my yoga instructor talks about are very similar to negative visualization and self-control, so I was able to understand exactly what she rambled on about during classes and I was able to be more engaged. I always thought the things that she talked about were considered “weird yoga thoughts,” but come to find out they are not.

I asked my instructor after a class if she knew about Stoicism or purposefully used the ideas involved with Stoicism and she had no idea what it even was, which was funny. I talked to her about Stoicism and just some of the ways it comes out in what she says, and she looked at me and said, “I guess those Stoics are doing something right. ” She asked what the leading ideas that I was using for my report and if I used any in her class. I told her negative visualization and self-control because when you’re in a 99-degree room with 20 other people and you’re holding plank and all of these strenuous poses and you think, “Wow, I’m dying. It is good to have the idea that it could be worse and to think right now it’s hard, but this is what you want to do. I thought “What is the worst thing that could happen if I stay in this room instead of walking out early, getting abs? ” Also by not allowing myself to think of negatively while in the class and to translate those thoughts into positive thoughts, I was able to be less stressed and enjoy the class more. Now, not only was I able to apply negative visualization and self- control to the burn of yoga, but also to swim practice!

Swimming can get extremely hard, especially when your coach thinks that now that you are out of high school you are a super human and that it’s okay to make your practices extremely difficult, no. Using negative visualization helped tremendously. I would be in the middle of a really challenging set, to be more specific, on October 13th, I was in the middle of one of the worst sets. I was swimming an IM set, my legs felt like I had lost them somewhere in the water a couple minutes before, since they felt nonexistent and my arms felt just about the same way and I pushed myself through it.

After I got done my coach asked me why I wasn’t making my typical groaning sounds that I made when I’m frustrated with swimming, which is almost always, and I told him it was because it could be a lot worst. I could’ve really lost my legs and not even be able to swim. I was able to think positively about swimming and instead of thinking to myself “This isn’t what I want to be doing,” I started to think, “This is what I want to be doing,” and it helped motivate me to continue. Stoicism for me was challenging. I thought that living like one for two weeks would be a piece of cake, but it wasn’t.

Being able to show myself that I do in fact have self-control when it comes to cookies, or even my just my own thoughts when I just want to pick up on my yoga mat and leave or take my swim cap off and say “See ya! ” was great. Being able to think more positively instead of negatively, helped me become less stressed. I realized that I have self-discipline. I think Stoicism has a lot of truth in the way that you can control yourself and can have more of a positive light in your life, which is definitely not easy. It gives you a different view on life in general.

You become less self absorbed, less indulgent and all of those cookie that you once thought you just had to have start to become just a tasteful memory. While living these past two weeks, I was researching and looking through articles. I found something that evoked a lot of thought and made me realize self-control is extremely important and is a universal idea that I have now come to understand, “People have said for centuries that you can build character by making yourself do things you don’t want to do, that by asserting self-discipline you can make yourself into a stronger person. That does appear to be correct,” (Baumeister).

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