4 Things you Should Avoid at All Costs (Stoicism)

4 Things you Should Avoid at All Costs (Stoicism)

Stoicism, an ancient Greek philosophy, has gained renewed popularity in recent years due to its practical approach to life and its emphasis on personal growth. At its core, Stoicism teaches us to focus on what is within our control and to cultivate virtues such as wisdom, justice, courage, and self-discipline. While the philosophy encourages the development of positive habits and mindsets, it also highlights the importance of avoiding certain behaviors that can hinder our progress and well-being. This article will explore four things Stoicism advises us to avoid at all costs.

1. Excessive Emotions and Passions

The Stoics believed that emotions when left unchecked, can cloud our judgment and lead us astray. They emphasized the importance of maintaining emotional stability and preventing passions from dominating our lives. This doesn’t mean that the Stoics advocated for a life devoid of emotion; instead, they encouraged the cultivation of rational thought and the ability to view situations objectively.

Stoicism recommends practicing self-awareness and mindfulness to manage excessive emotions. By paying attention to our thoughts and feelings, we can identify when our emotions are getting better and take steps to regain a balanced perspective. Techniques such as reframing situations and focusing on the present moment can help us maintain emotional equilibrium.

Consider the example of a person who lets their anger consume them after a disagreement with a colleague. By allowing their emotions to take control, they may say or do things they later regret, damaging both their professional and personal relationships. A Stoic approach would be to take a step back, assess the situation rationally, and respond constructively.

2. Procrastination and Laziness

Stoicism values action and fulfilling one’s duties. The philosophy encourages individuals to be proactive and to make the most of their time and abilities. Procrastination and laziness, therefore, are seen as obstacles to personal growth and success.

When we put off important tasks, we create unnecessary stress for ourselves and miss out on opportunities to learn, grow, and contribute to the world around us. Stoicism suggests breaking tasks down into smaller, manageable steps and setting clear goals and deadlines to overcome procrastination. By creating a sense of structure and accountability, we can motivate ourselves to take action and make progress.

Self-discipline is another crucial aspect of Stoicism that can help combat procrastination and laziness. By developing the ability to control our impulses and stay focused on our goals, we can overcome the temptation to put things off and instead take consistent action toward our objectives.

3. Attachment to External Validation and Material Possessions

Stoicism teaches us to cultivate internal virtues rather than seek validation from external sources. When we become too attached to the opinions of others or the acquisition of material possessions, we risk losing sight of what truly matters in life.

Seeking validation from others can be a never-ending pursuit, as we may constantly try to please or impress those around us. This can lead to a sense of insecurity and a lack of self-worth. Stoicism encourages us to develop a strong sense of self and to find validation from within rather than relying on the approval of others.

Similarly, an excessive attachment to material possessions can lead to dissatisfaction and a constant desire for more. Stoicism advises us to approach material goods with a sense of detachment, recognizing that they are ultimately impermanent and not essential to our happiness. By practicing gratitude for what we already have and regularly assessing the actual value of our possessions, we can learn to let go of unnecessary attachments and find contentment in a more straightforward way of life.

4. Engaging in Negative Self-Talk and Self-Doubt

Negative self-talk and self-doubt can be significant barriers to personal growth and well-being. When we engage in negative internal dialogue, we undermine our abilities and limit our potential. Stoicism encourages us to be mindful of our thoughts and to engage in constructive self-reflection rather than harsh self-criticism.

One way to combat negative self-talk is to challenge irrational thoughts with evidence. When we engage in self-doubt, we can ask ourselves whether our thoughts are based on facts or assumptions. By questioning the validity of our negative beliefs, we can begin to replace them with more balanced, realistic perspectives.

Practicing self-compassion and understanding is another important aspect of overcoming negative self-talk. Stoicism encourages us to treat ourselves with kindness and to recognize that everyone makes mistakes and faces challenges. By learning to be more forgiving and supportive of ourselves, we can build resilience and maintain a positive outlook in the face of difficulties.

Case Study: How Michael Embraced Stoicism to Transform His Life

Michael, a 35-year-old software engineer, found himself at a crossroads. Despite his successful career, he often felt overwhelmed by stress, self-doubt, and a constant need for external validation. His relationships suffered as he struggled to manage his emotions and prioritize his responsibilities.

Seeking a way to regain control of his life, Michael discovered Stoicism. He began to study the teachings of ancient philosophers like Marcus Aurelius and Seneca, learning to focus on what was within his control and to cultivate virtues such as wisdom and self-discipline. Michael started practicing mindfulness and reframing his thoughts to maintain a balanced perspective when facing challenges.

As he incorporated Stoic principles into his daily life, Michael noticed a significant shift in his mindset and behavior. He became more proactive in his work, breaking down complex projects into manageable tasks and setting clear goals. He also learned to let go of his attachment to material possessions and external validation, finding a greater sense of contentment and self-worth from within.

Michael’s journey with Stoicism transformed his professional life and his relationships. By practicing self-awareness and emotional regulation, he became a more patient and understanding partner, friend, and colleague. His newfound resilience and clarity of purpose helped him navigate life’s challenges with greater ease and confidence, ultimately leading to a more fulfilling and balanced existence.

Key Takeaways

  • Stoicism emphasizes focusing on what is within our control and cultivating virtues such as wisdom, justice, courage, and self-discipline.
  • Excessive emotions and passions can cloud our judgment and lead us astray. To maintain emotional stability, practice self-awareness and mindfulness and reframe situations objectively.
  • Procrastination and laziness are obstacles to personal growth and success. To overcome these challenges, break tasks into manageable steps, set clear goals and deadlines, and develop self-discipline.
  • Attachment to external validation and material possessions can lead to insecurity and dissatisfaction. Focus on cultivating internal virtues, finding self-worth from within, and practicing gratitude for what you already have.
  • Negative self-talk and self-doubt undermine our abilities and limit our potential. Challenge irrational thoughts with evidence, practice self-compassion, and engage in constructive self-reflection to overcome these barriers.
  • Incorporating Stoic principles into daily life can help develop resilience, reduce stress and anxiety, and promote a more balanced, fulfilling existence.
  • Reflecting on your behaviors and thought patterns can help you identify areas where Stoic teachings can be applied to improve your well-being and progress.


The timeless wisdom of Stoicism offers valuable guidance for navigating life’s challenges and achieving personal growth. We can cultivate a more balanced, fulfilling life by avoiding excessive emotions, procrastination, attachment to external validation and material possessions, and negative self-talk.

Incorporating Stoic principles into our daily lives can help us develop resilience, self-discipline, and contentment. By focusing on what is within our control and letting go of what is not, we can reduce stress and anxiety and approach life with clarity and purpose.