Many of the arguments and arguments we have every day are triggered by petty or even stupid reasons, things that aren't even worth discussing. In other cases, the problem lies with our interlocutor and his inability to contemplate any point of view other than his own.
But when we get carried away by emotions and immerse ourselves in endless discussions that lead nowhere, we lose our inner peace and our sanity suffers. And it's not worth it. Seneca had already said: "a prolonged discussion is a labyrinth in which the truth is always lost".
Stoic guide not to lose peace by arguing over trivialities
- What people say, they say more about them than about you
Epictetus, one of the most famous Stoic philosophers, taught that external things that happen to us are beyond our control and, therefore, we should learn to react by taking a psychological distance that protects us from negative effects. We are not responsible for things, but we are responsible for the way we react.
His advice is: “When someone treats you badly or talks badly about you, remember that they do it because they believe it is their duty. Therefore, he is unable to follow what feels right to you, he only does what feels right to him. In this sense, if this person is wrong in his opinion, he harms himself, because it is he who has been deceived. If a person assumes that a true proposition is false, the proposition is unaffected, it is the person who has deceived himself. If you act according to this logic, you will be more balanced in your temperament with those who insult you because you will be able to say to yourself on any occasion: 'it's just his opinion' ".
This does not mean that we must allow them to insult or humiliate us, it just means that we must keep control over our reactions, because every time we get angry, we give control to another person, every time we allow someone to destroy our balance. emotional, we lose.
On the contrary, Epictetus encourages us not to take things personally and to assume a reflective distance that allows us to respond with equanimity. We must understand that some people can be offensive because they feel weak, simply out of ignorance or because they don't know how to react.
This does not mean to excuse their behavior, because no one has the right to accuse or insult others, it just means that we go further and refuse to engage in absurd or meaningless discussions that are useless. It means acting intelligently and applying Seneca's maxim: "what you think of yourself matters much more than what others think of you".
- Don't pay attention to what isn't worth it
Marcus Aurelius, another of the great Stoic philosophers, thought that the key lies in the attention and meaning we attribute to events. He preached serenity based on self-control.
“The value of attention varies in proportion to the object it focuses on. It is better that you do not devote more attention and time than they deserve to small insignificant things [...] If you love yourself so much, pay more attention to what you think of yourself than to what others think [...] Decide that they will not harm you and you will not be harmed. Decide that you will not feel damaged and you will not be. "
There are two important points in his speech, valuable lessons for avoiding unnecessary discussions. First of all, we must learn not to pay more attention than they deserve to destructive criticism, unfair opinions or rigid ideas. If we keep thinking about it in our mind, even when the discussion is over, we will only feed the discomfort and frustration. We must learn to give each thing the importance it deserves. Neither more nor less.
The second interesting point in Marcus Aurelius' speech refers to empowerment. No one can harm us without our consent. Therefore, when we get angry and enter into useless discussions, it is because someone has touched one of our sensitive points. This is the perfect time to ask ourselves why we discussed something so irrelevant, to grow up and not make the same mistake again in the future.
- Prepare for the worst in the best way
Seneca was considered the greatest representative of Stoicism, among his writings he left us some pearls of wisdom that we can apply to prevent useless discussions from taking away our peace of mind. In the famous "Letters of a Stoic" he advises:
“The effect of what is not sought is overwhelming, because the weight of the disaster adds to the unexpected. The fact that it was unexpected intensifies a person's reaction. That's why we need to make sure nothing takes us by surprise. […] We need to anticipate all possibilities and strengthen the spirit to deal with the things that can happen if we don't want to feel overwhelmed and confused. […] Everyone faces more courageously something they have been preparing for for a long time. Those who are not prepared, on the other hand, will react badly to the most insignificant events ”.
Seneca was referring to the importance of controlling our expectations, which often underlie meaningless discussions. If we expect all the people we meet to be open-minded and flexible, when we meet rigid people who don't want to listen we will feel frustrated. On the contrary, contemplating this possibility will allow us to immediately understand that the discussion does not make sense.
We can also mentally prepare ourselves to face certain discussions. Learning assertive communication techniques, for example, will allow us to remain calm and positively refocus the conversation.
The key is to be aware that we don't live in an ideal world and can't change some people, so we just have to ask ourselves if we will allow them to rob us of our peace of mind with discussions that lead nowhere or just act smarter and end. the discussion.