7 Types of People Stoicism WARNS Us About (AVOID THEM)

7 Types of People Stoicism WARNS Us About (AVOID THEM)

Ancient Stoic philosophers promoted wisdom, justice, courage, moderation, and reason as central principles for leading a proper life. However, when living according to these virtues, Stoics warned of certain types of people and behaviors they advised cautioning against or avoiding outright. These influences could otherwise cloud judgment and decision-making, drain emotional energy, or enable arrogance and lack of self-control.

Surrounding oneself only with flatterers inflating self-importance, for example, went against the Stoic emphasis on humility and self-awareness. Constant exposure to relentless complainers drained motivation and resilience during inevitable hard times when the strength of character would be tested. Stoic teachings advised instead to associate with and emulate those demonstrating virtue, honesty, and disciplined self-control if one wished to master these qualities. At times, though, avoiding destructive types and environments was equally critical while focusing inwardly.

1. The Flatterer

Stoics warn about flatterers who constantly heap praise and inflate egos. They may not have pure intentions, and over-the-top flattery promotes arrogance over humility. Marcus Aurelius said, “It is better to trip with the feet than with the tongue.” Excess pride makes it harder to accept fault, control reactions, or recognize areas needing improvement. Rather than inflating self-importance, Stoics focus on self-discipline, honesty, and justice.

2. The Complainer

Stoics would avoid people who do nothing but complain, seeing them as draining versus uplifting. They highlight the negative in most situations rather than making the best of things or finding meaning. Complainers rarely take action to fix issues, either. Constant pessimism and complaining erode perseverance during adversity, which Stoics must summon regularly to uphold virtue. By avoiding chronic complaints, we preserve energy and remember obstacles, helping us grow stronger.

3. The Hedonist

Stoics warn against spending time solely with pleasure-seekers pursuing decadent lifestyles. It becomes harder to exercise moderation and self-control surrounded by excess food, drink, money, and sex. Wisdom gets clouded by indulgence and instant gratification of desires versus long-term, meaningful pursuits that shape character. It is harder to cope with loss or failure without pleasure as a crutch, too. Therefore, while Stoics are not complete ascetics, they caution against environments filled only with short-term pleasure-chasing.

4. The Ruthlessly Ambitious

Stoics advise avoidance of the ruthlessly ambitious who trample over others to climb achievement ladders. Their status-seeking undercuts justice and the common good by prioritizing their interests only. They take credit without appreciation for team efforts, manipulate others for gain, and dispose of them. Their characterization of people as either valuable or competitors cuts out empathy and relationships. Stoics instead find meaning through virtuous self-mastery, helping communities, and acting based on ethical principles versus self-glorification.

5. The Untrustworthy

Stoics warn against deep associations with those who chronically lack integrity. Truth and honesty are core principles that enable individual wisdom and justice overall. When others are frequently dishonest, it erodes the fabric keeping society healthy. It forces constant suspicion, which strains relationships and the tranquility Stoics strive for. Additionally, deceit hinders the meaningful discourse needed to learn and grow wiser over time. While allowing for some faults, Stoics ultimately value authentic connections too much to tolerate ongoing duplicity.

6. The Passionately Ideological

Stoics caution against those adhering rigidly to one ideology without rational consideration of context or change. When beliefs become akin to unquestioned dogma, it closes off objectivity, nuance, and perspectives outside strict doctrine. Adaptability is critical for Stoics as they respond justly to events. Blind ideology restricts their thoughtful response. Zealotry also undercuts Stoics’ emphasis on logical deliberation to govern emotions and reactions virtuously. Bigotry growing from extreme ideologies also decays societal compassion. Thus, Stoics find influences clinging dogmatically to singular perspectives incompatible with growing in wisdom.

7. The Vicious Bully

Finally, Stoics warn against association with those demonstrating cruelty, malice, and intention to cause harm to vulnerable targets. Stoics hold sacred cosmic consciousness connecting humanity. Vicious bullying undercuts that severely through raw hatred and brutality attacking our shared dignity. As Marcus Aurelius noted, “To live a good life: We have the potential for it. If we can learn to be indifferent to what makes no difference.” Bullies who derive joy from others’ pain vary enormously from a Stoic mindset of universal empathy and justice. Some environments sadly enable such bullying, which Stoics would avoid participating in while finding ways to prevent vicious cruelty where they can.

Applying Stoic Principles: Sammy’s Story

Sammy was eager to learn more about Stoic philosophy after reading several books about its practical wisdom for finding inner peace and living virtuously. One resonating principle was carefully choosing who to spend time with and avoiding those who could undermine his goals.

Upon reflection, Sammy realized several friendships that dragged him down. His old college buddy Jose constantly flattered Sammy to inflate his ego, making him feel arrogant and more selfish over time. His aunt Rita did nothing but complain at every family gathering, leaving him drained and cynical rather than energized. His wild, single coworkers pressured him into expensive dinners, parties, and reckless gambling that distracted his focus and savings.

After learning about Stoic cautions against flatterers, complainers, and hedonists, Sammy decided to distance himself from these influences. He still acted friendly when encountering them but turned down invitations for extended visits or activities. Instead, he reached out more to his reflective friend Leeds, who positively challenged Sammy to keep growing and contributing to community programs. He felt re-centered reading philosophy versus gossip magazines.

The changes weren’t always easy since old habits die hard. But Sammy found that avoiding the constant griping, manipulation, and temptation cleared mental space for the self-reflection and discipline Stoicism recommends. His decisions became guided more by wisdom than ego or momentary pleasures. He discovered each slight shift toward virtuous action created its inner tranquility. Sammy felt assured by the Stoic maxim that true freedom comes through self-mastery, not controlling others or events.

Key Takeaways

  • Shun Sycophants – Flatterers who excessively praise to serve their interests can promote toxic arrogance and lack of self-awareness, undercutting Stoic principles.
  • Distance Disparagers – Habitual complainers sap the motivation and optimism needed to endure adversity with grit and poise, as Stoics exemplify.
  • Limit Louche Company – Hedonists fixated on decadent pleasures above all else can cloud judgment and discipline central to the Stoic path.
  • Sidestep Social Climbers – The ruthlessly ambitious willing to exploit others undermine the justice and ethical consciousness Stoics prioritize.
  • Flee the Faithless – Deceivers’ bereft of integrity fostered neglect, not trust, and hindehindershonesty undergirding society.
  • Question Zealotry – Rigid ideologues deaf to nuance oscillate between irrational exuberance and pessimism during ups and downs.
  • Barbarism – Those who revel in malicious harm shred our shared bonds of humanity, which Stoics cherish.


Ultimately, ancient Stoic philosophers stressed cultivating virtue, wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation daily through reason, discipline, conscience, and tranquility. By avoiding those who might undermine or sabotage these principles in toxic ways, Stoics can focus on uplifting those around them through ethical speech and action. Vigilance is vital, but so is continuously striving to live and lead lives of principle, no matter the circumstances.