Whenever we learn something new in life, there is a burning desire to share that information with others. It’s hardwired into our DNA. Don’t believe me? Just look at how kids are so eager to show their parents every single new thing they learn about the world. However, there comes a time where actions speak louder than words. Epictetus, a wise Stoic philosopher said, ‘Don’t explain your philosophy, embody it’. In this blog post, we’re going to dive further into this saying. Let’s get into it.
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All talk and no action?
So are we all talk? Why does it seem like we’d rather explain good values rather than actually showing it? Well, I believe the main culprit behind this is our ego.
When I first started on this journey of self-development, I would tell everybody all about all the books I had read. I’d introduce people to Stoicism and detail my knowledge of all the great philosophers.
I truly believed that I had the pure intention of helping others. However, upon further reflection, I realized that this wasn’t the case. In fact, my intentions were selfish at its core.
You see, there is an element of pride that starts to creep in when you embark on self-improvement. Others begin to compliment you as areas of your life start to become better. You’ve changed so much. I can’t believe how emotionally mature you are now. You tend to become addicted to these comments after a while, and they start to inflate your ego.
And so, instead of focusing on making yourself a better person for you, you start to make yourself a better person for other people. The highs of receiving praise for explaining your moral values vastly outweighs the lows of embodying it.
And that’s the truth, taking the time and energy to work on yourself is incredibly taxing work. You’ll have to confront the deepest aspects of your personality. Things that you would never admit to yourself. In those dark caves of the mind, that where the real change occurs.
Upon realizing this, Epictetus’ words started to make more sense. But where do you even start? Well, here are 3 things to keep in mind when focusing on not only explaining your philosophy but also embodying it.
3 things to remember
Be your own witness
If you ever feel the urge to tell someone of an accomplishment, take a second to ask yourself why. Why do I need someone else to witness this? Why can I not act as my own witness? Taking a second to engage with these thoughts will allow you to see where your true motivations lie.
If you’re not satisfied with being the sole witness to your accomplishments, then it indicates that there is more work that needs to be done. It means that you still crave the external validation from others more than the internal validation you can give to yourself. Understanding this little thing about yourself is enough to set you the right path.
Humility is key
Pride is not the antidote to shame, but its source. True humility is the only antidote to shame. A quote that I hold very dear. To prevent ourselves from boasting about our self-improvement accomplishments it’s important to be humble. Especially, in times where we are succeeding in life, because this is where we are most vulnerable to our egos. This means spending more time listening to others. Asking for help. Showing gratitude. These actions embody good values and will benefit you greatly in life.
Let your actions speak for you
People will notice. They always do. Even if you don’t tell them about whatever life change you’ve made. However, you’re going to have to be consistent. If you’re constantly showing good judgement in a variety of situations, people will look up to you with a certain level of respect. You won’t have to say that you’re a ‘good’ person because it’d be extremely obvious to others that you are.
Epictetus, although long dead, leaves us with a lot to think about in our modern lives. Use this quote to start thinking about why you do the things you do, and you’ll be surprised at the answers you’ll come up with!
What do you think? Does the saying resonate with you? Have there been times where you’ve led by the wrong motivations? Let me know in the comments below. I’m curious!
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