The Things we can’t Control (A Lesson from the Stoics)

Do you often find yourself getting frustrated or stressed about things that are beyond your control? If so, you’re not alone. In our fast-paced and unpredictable world, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and powerless when faced with circumstances we cannot influence. However, the Stoics had a different perspective on this matter. They believed that by focusing our energy and attention on the things we have control over, we can cultivate inner peace and live a more fulfilling life. In this blog post, we will explore the concept of “The Things we can’t Control” and learn valuable lessons from the Stoics on how to navigate through life’s challenges with serenity and resilience.

The Things we can’t Control (A Lesson from the Stoics)

What are the Stoics?

The Stoics were a school of ancient Greek philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BC. They believed that the key to a good life lies in understanding and accepting the nature of the world and our place in it. One of the fundamental teachings of the Stoics is that we should focus on the things we can control and not worry about the things we can’t.

The Dichotomy of Control

According to the Stoics, there are two types of things in the world – those that are within our control and those that are not. We have complete control over our thoughts, opinions, desires, and actions. These are the things that we should focus on because they are within our power to change and improve.

On the other hand, there are things that are beyond our control, such as the weather, other people’s opinions, or even our own physical appearance. The Stoics teach us that we should not waste our time and energy trying to control or change these external factors, as it only leads to frustration and unhappiness.

Acceptance and Resilience

By accepting the things we can’t control and focusing on the things we can, the Stoics believed that we can achieve a state of tranquility and inner peace. This doesn’t mean that we should be indifferent to the world around us, but rather that we should approach it with a sense of resilience and equanimity.

When faced with a difficult situation, the Stoics teach us to ask ourselves: “Is this something within my control?” If the answer is no, then we should let go of our attachment to the outcome and focus on how we can respond to the situation in the best possible way.

Practicing Stoicism in Daily Life

Applying the teachings of Stoicism in our daily lives can help us navigate through the challenges and uncertainties that we face. By focusing on what we can control, we can develop a sense of personal agency and empowerment.

For example, if we are stuck in traffic and running late for an important meeting, instead of getting frustrated and angry at the situation, we can choose to accept it as something beyond our control. We can then shift our focus to what we can do in that moment, such as listening to an audiobook or practicing deep breathing exercises to reduce stress.

Similarly, when faced with criticism or negative feedback from others, instead of dwelling on their opinions, we can choose to focus on our own self-improvement and growth. We can ask ourselves if there is any truth to their feedback and use it as an opportunity for personal development.

A Lesson in Persistence

The Stoics also teach us the importance of persistence and perseverance in the face of adversity. They believed that setbacks and obstacles are part of life, and it is our ability to overcome them that defines us.

By accepting and embracing the things we can’t control, we develop the resilience to bounce back from failure and setbacks. We learn to view them as opportunities for growth and character development, rather than as insurmountable obstacles.


The Stoics provide us with valuable insights into how we can lead a more fulfilling and peaceful life by focusing on the things we can control and accepting the things we can’t. By practicing their teachings, we can cultivate resilience, inner peace, and a sense of personal agency in the face of life’s challenges. So let us remember the lessons of the Stoics and approach life with equanimity and acceptance.

Frequently Asked Questions about The Things we can’t Control (A Lesson from the Stoics)

What does “The Things we can’t Control” mean?

“The Things we can’t Control” refers to the concept in Stoicism that acknowledges the existence of certain circumstances and events that are beyond our influence and control. It highlights the importance of focusing on our own actions and attitudes rather than getting consumed by things beyond our power.

Why is it important to understand the concept of “The Things we can’t Control”?

Understanding this concept is crucial as it helps us develop resilience, inner peace, and a healthier perspective towards life’s challenges. By recognizing and accepting the limits of our control, we can free ourselves from unnecessary stress and focus on what we can do to improve ourselves and our surroundings.

How can I identify the things I can’t control?

Identifying the things we can’t control requires self-reflection and introspection. It involves recognizing that external events, other individuals’ actions, and certain circumstances are beyond our direct influence. By assessing whether a situation is within our power to change or not, we can better determine if it falls under the things we can’t control category.

What are some examples of things we can’t control?

  • Natural disasters
  • Other people’s emotions or reactions
  • The actions of others
  • Past events
  • Health issues or genetic predispositions
  • The passage of time

How can I apply the Stoic philosophy to deal with the things I can’t control?

Practicing Stoicism involves shifting your focus towards the things within your control, such as your thoughts, actions, and attitudes. By accepting the things you can’t control and reframing your perspective, you can reduce anxiety and find peace in challenging situations. Stoic practices like mindfulness, gratitude, and self-reflection can help you navigate life’s uncertainties with greater equanimity.

Is it possible to influence the things we can’t control?

While we may not have the power to directly control external events or circumstances, we do have the ability to influence our reactions and responses to them. By cultivating a Stoic mindset, practicing emotional intelligence, and developing self-discipline, we can influence how we perceive and deal with the things we can’t control.

I hope you find useful my article The Things we can’t Control (A Lesson from the Stoics), I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

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