Control & Conflicting Duties

Today was a pretty poor start to Stoic Week for me. I had a few moments at work where I let myself get frustrated at clients and things outside my control.

Don’t demand that things happen as you wish, but wish that they happen as they do happen, and you will go on well.

Epictetus, Enchiridion Ch.8

I find especially tough when my family sacrifices in these situations. My wife boys had to wait an hour in the office while I worked; pushing their dinner later and our plans to get groceries out of whack. I feel guilty that my job requires me over my family and that I can’t or won’t just stand up and say no.

I’m being pulled in different directions by my duties—though my duty to my family takes precedence in value, my duty to my work is still important and helps achieve my duty to my family.

I think what I’ve learned from this is I was falsely defining what “providing for my family” meant. I had made a plan with my wife and that plan broke down due to work obligations. By not following through with the plan I felt I was letting down my family and that mad me angry and annoyed. Instead, I actually provided them with a warm and safe environment where they sat in a room and watched movie trailers on Apple TV while I worked within earshot. In the grand scheme of things I think I still satisfied my duty to provide for my family, so I really shouldn’t be so hard on myself.

If I can accept that work and clients are not in my complete control then I can hopefully not disrupt my tranquility with anger and frustration. In terms of my duties; I believe I need to remind myself of the core of the duty and not get distracted by the means with which I achieve it. So, in the end, today was actually a great start to Stoic Week because I know better now how to improve than I did yesterday!

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