🔘 The Dichotomy of Control
Chapter 1 / 53
“We are responsible for some things, while there are others for which we cannot be held responsible. The former include our judgement, our impulse, our desire, aversion and our mental faculties in general; the latter include the body, material possessions, our reputation, status – in a word, anything not in our power to control.”
— Epictetus, Enchiridion, Chapter I
I/ Understanding the Dichotomy of Control
In Your Control
There are some things that are within your control, that are up to you, that you are responsible for, and it is wise to spend your energy trying to change these things.
These things include:
- Your Judgment
- Your Impulses
- Your Desires
- Your Aversions
- Your Mental Faculties
Not In Your Control
There are some things that are not within your control, that are not up to you, which you are not responsible for, and it foolish to spend energy trying to change these things.
These things include:
- Your body
- Your possessions
- Your reputation
II/ Conceptualising the Dichotomy of Control
What's in our control is unconstrained by externals, and what is outside our control is constrained by externals.
On the left side of the circle, you will see things in your control. This is where we act from as a Stoic. We are not blind to the right side of the circle, but we always place it second to the left side.
III/ The Benefits of Practicing the Dichotomy of Control
If you truly embody this practice by understanding what belongs to you and is up to and what does not, here's what you can expect:
- You will feel liberated and free.
- You will not have any hatred or resentment in your heart.
- Every single thing you do will be chosen by you.
- Nobody will have the power to hurt you.
IV/ Bringing The Right Intention to Practicing the Dichotomy of Control
If you want to receive the vast benefits that The Dichotomy of Control brings, you must practice it religiously. A fundamental life shift must occur if you wish to attain deep freedom and happiness.
V/ Practical Application of the Dichotomy of Control
Let's look at how we can put these ideas to immediate practice.
Here is a diagram that shows the step-by-step process:
🎧 Dichotomy of Control Meditation:
🧁 Aversion and Desire
Chapter 2 / 53
“The faculty of desire purports to aim at securing what you want, while a version purports to shield you from what you don’t. If you fail in your desire, you are unfortunate, if you experience what you would rather avoid you are unhappy. So direct aversion only towards things that are under your control and alien to your nature, and you will not fall victim to any of the things that you dislike. But if your resentment is directed at illness, death or poverty, you are headed for disappointment.”
— Epictetus, Enchiridion, Chapter II
I/ Desire and Aversion: Root of Suffering
There are some things that we desire to move toward and some things that we desire to move away from.
If we fail to get what we desire or we experience that which we want to avoid, we become miserable.