February : Passions and Emotions

February 1st : For the Hot-Headed Man

“Keep this thought handy when you feel a fit of rage coming on – it isn’t manly to be enraged. Rather, gentleness and civility are more human, and therefore manlier. A real man doesn’t give way to anger and discontent, and such a person has strength, courage, and endurance – unlike the angry and complaining. The nearer a man comes to a calm mind, the closer he is to strength.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 11.18.5b

Passion shrinks the mind, and gives you tunnel vision. Hence, the more you can control your passions, the clearer you can perceive the world around you, the more possibilities are open to you on how to react.

I’ve noticed this often with regards to pacing strategies in races. For the 500, it’s easy to go too hard, making the last 200m a real struggle. Nobody needs help getting psyched for the beginning. It’s those last 200m that separate the good from the great.

Even in the world of 100m sprinting, there is such a thing as pacing.

Don’t go wild for the night (right, Sheng?) Hit your pace with a clear mind, and you give yourself the ability to adjust your race plan to your daily abilities. When the hurt hits, instead of raging against it, embrace it and make your statement.

February 2nd : A Proper Frame of Mind

We would never let another person jerk us around the way we let our impulses do. It’s time we start seeing it that way – that we’re not puppets that can be made to dance this way or that way just because we feel like it. We should be the ones in control, not our emotions, because we are independent, self-sufficient people. – The Daily Stoic

I feel that the easiest way to disarm somebody in the throes of emotions, somebody who says “I can’t help it!”, is to ask “why not?”

Somebody who acts impulsively chose to be this kind of person.

We could decide to lean towards the nature POV instead of nurture, or that the environment you were brought in raised you to consider reacting this way as acceptable. This could remove your responsibility about how you became this person. Once it’s made clear, though, it still becomes your choice to perpetuate your past.

You are who you choose to be.

February 3rd : The Source of Your Anxiety

Today, when you find yourself getting anxious, ask yourself : Why are my insides twisted into knots? Am I in control here or is my anxiety? And most important : Is my anxiety doing me any good? – The Daily Stoic

I think back to when I had a peanut situation (I’m highly allergic) back when I was a personal trainer. I’ve taken some benadryl, my reaction isn’t improving, and I’m planning on using my epipen and getting myself to the hospital.

My coworkers ask “Why aren’t you more nervous?” I simply responded “How would being nervous make anything better?” Come to think about : if anything, being nervous would have just made things worse. Increased bloodflow and shortened breath are not what you want when your airway is constricting and histamines are flooding your system.

This is not to say that anxiety is a universally bad thing. Stress helps you focus on the task at hand. Reframe it from something to fear, to a feeling to embrace. I think the key here is to save your stress (paying attention to who and what you give your f*cks to, as Mark Manson would say) for things that you have control over. Stress about your performance, instead of the people you are racing against.

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