Advice From A Philosopher: How To Deal With Sh*tty Situations That Are Out Of Your Control


Life just doesn’t seem fair at times. There are circumstances that are outside of our control that can affect us in a negative way. People can be rude, dishonest, and mean. The people closest to us can betray us. We have a tendency to resist the true nature of the world, and it causes us great pain to have unfavorable situations arise. I’m reading the book Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and he talks in detail about how to deal with unfortunate circumstances. I will include some passages from the book and elaborate on his thoughts. Hopefully this will help you deal with the unfairness of the world.

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” Although it seems incredibly difficult at times, realize that you do possess the strength to overcome anything that happens to you. People are able to find strength after dramatically life altering evens from the power of their mind.

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” We may look at the lives of people who are seemingly less fortunate that us and wonder how they are able to find happiness and contentment. Happiness comes from your thinking. People less fortunate can find meaning and gratitude in several different ways. So can you.

“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others.” When we take things personally, we are in essence saying that we agree with what was said. We may feel hurt by negative comments made about us by other people, even though they aren’t true and don’t align with the opinion we have of ourselves. We have to remember to value ourselves and know that the comments people make about us are a reflection of their character, not ours.

“When another blames you or hates you, or people voice similar criticisms, go to their souls, penetrate inside and see what sort of people they are. You will realize that there is no need to be racked with anxiety that they should hold any particular opinion about you.” The more you pay attention, the more you realize that the way people treat you has much more to do with them that it does with you. Why should you care if a shitty person says shitty things about you? It’s in their nature to act immaturely, so this sort of behavior shouldn’t surprise you or bother you.

“How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.” An even better method to deal with ignorant people is to ignore them altogether. Be too busy doing you that you don’t even have the time to notice what others are saying about you.

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.” Develop and fortify your reasoning capabilities so that you won’t be blindsided by unfortunate circumstances in the future. Decide that no matter what happens to you, you will deal with it in an emotionally intelligent way.

“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.” People can only hurt you if you allow them to. No one has the permission to cause you pain unless you give it to him or her.

“The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.” Take the high road. When people try to get you to stoop to their level, don’t give them the pleasure. Let success be your greatest revenge. Refusing to respond to other peoples attacks will take the wind out of their sails and you be victorious by simply choosing to be the bigger person.

“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticize?” Have you ever been in a foul mood and taken it out on someone that didn’t deserve it? Have you ever been rude to someone? Have you ever gossiped or criticized someone behind his or her back? We all have done things in the heat of the moment that we come to regret later. Keep this in mind when you’re feeling slighted by someone else.

“Here is a rule to remember in future, when anything tempts you to feel bitter: not ‘This is misfortune,’ but ‘To bear this worthily is good fortune.’” Life is too short to remain bitter about the negative things that occur in your life. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, take what happens to you in stride and take pride in your ability to move forward with dignity.

“Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs?” Everything happens for a reason. It may not be a reason that suits your preferences, but nonetheless things happen according to what nature dictates. The minute you stop resisting what happens to you and realize that you might as well take things as they come, the freer you’ll feel.

“Do not waste what remains of your life in speculating about your neighbors, unless with a view to some mutual benefit. To wonder what so-and-so is doing and why, or what he is saying, or thinking, or scheming—in a word, anything that distracts you from fidelity to the ruler within you—means a loss of opportunity for some other task.” Worrying about what other people are thinking and saying about you not only causes pain, but it keeps you from focusing your energy on what truly matters. The more attention you give to them, the less time you have to make a positive impact on your own life.

“Whoever does wrong, wrongs himself; whoever does injustice, does it to himself, making himself evil.” Remember this sentence when people betray you and do you harm. They are truly only doing harm to themselves. When considering retaliation, realize that you’re only going to cause yourself harm in the process.

“Accept whatever comes to you woven in the pattern of your destiny, for what could more aptly fit your needs?” Shit happens.