Who Are You Letting In?

Photo by Nsey Benajah on Unsplash

“If a person gave away your body to some passerby, you’d be furious,” Epictetus said, yet we so easily hand our mind over to other people, letting them inside our heads or making us feel a certain way.
~Lives of the Stoics, Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman

What are we giving away to people that would make us furious if we really thought about it?

We are so careful about protecting our things. We have security systems. We lock our doors. For the really valuable things in our lives, we have safes and lockboxes. In most cases, we would defend ourselves if somebody was trying to take something from us. But how often do we allow people to live “rent free” in our heads, as the saying goes?

We’ve all experienced this before. For whatever reason, we all have those people in our lives that really know how to push our buttons. I recall somebody in seminary once referring to these type of people as “spiritual sandpaper”. It’s the kind of people that can really shape us if we approach the situation properly.

What Epictetus is saying here is that too often what happens when we encounter this kind of person is that we willingly hand over our minds. We let them inside our head, and they violate our thoughts.

Now, I’m far from an expert on Epictetus, but I think he would make the case that these kinds of people only do what we allow them to do. They only get inside our heads because we open the door.

In sports, a lot of times, players will start trash talking opponents. There are some who are famous for doing it. Why? Because it can work. If your opponent allows you to get into their head, they can get thrown off their game. This is particularly effective with players who don’t know how to control their emotions. Once they let you in, they don’t perform to their fullest potential.

So, who are we letting in? Who is it that we allow to get in our heads? Once we realize we are the ones letting them in, then we can also realize that we are the ones that can close the door and keep them out.



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Matt Swisher

Matt Swisher

Just some guy who is looking to make my pocket of the world a better place. Life is a journey; let’s walk together and help each other along the way.