This week we thought we would write about something we rarely mention. If you follow us on twitter, instagram or facebook, you would have seen lots of quotes about stoicism lately. We’ve become quite fond of it actually. So, I thought I would take this opportunity to explain to you what it is and how it can be used to combat depression.
What is stoicism?
When most people hear the word stoicism they think of someone who remains calm under pressure and avoids emotional extremes. This however is simply an attitude, a by-product of stoicism. In actual fact, it is a philosophy that dates back to the ancient Greeks (300 B.C) and is built upon the basic teachings of virtue, tolerance and self-control. Key to the stoic philosophy is the term logos. It means that the universe is a rational system of cause and effect. The stoic philosophy suggests that people cannot have control of logos but they can have control of how they approach logos. In other words, stoics deal with the world as it is by controlling their reaction to it. If something bad happens, we see the rational world at work, accept for what it is and take action. If we spill a glass of wine on our dinner shirt, we understand that we misjudged the distance between ourselves and the table and struck the glass against our chin instead of lifting it to our mouth and we accept that the wine fell out of the glass and onto our shirt because… gravity exists. We do not read anything into it. This is not karma. The price of your shirt was not taken into consideration by you, nor the wine, nor gravity. It happened because of logic and physics. Nothing else. This is how a stoic thinks. And whilst thinking in this way, the stoic is in pursuit of constant self-improvement through the cardinal virtues of practical wisdom, justice, courage and temperance.
What We Do!
Cross Culture Therapy offers 1-on-1 online therapy sessions to people suffering from depression, phobia, anxiety as well as to people who suffer from displacement issues associated with a globally nomadic lifestyle (i.e.Third Culture Kids – people who have grown up in a culture different to their parent’s passport culture – and Cross Culture Kids) Our sessions are conducted via Skype for a duration of 50-minutes and can be purchased in packs of 1-session, 3-sessions or 5-sessions. If you are interested in purchasing a session, click on the Book A Session tab on our menu or click here.
How does stoicism help with depression?
So how does this help with depression? You might have been able to guess it by now. Stoicism has a lot of similarities to mindfulness and Zen buddhist philosophies in the way that it teaches its practitioners a way of approaching life. People who suffer from depression are often indoctrinated by a negative mindset. In many cases it has even been there since birth. Society and human nature is in many ways to blame for this as it uses negativity as a defence mechanism. (It is better to have low expectations lest you get disappointed from a bad result.) Until recently, many people have thought that a positive mindset would be a natural way of curing depression but in the majority of cases it has been proven to make things worse. When people use a positive mindset to fight depression it often takes a lot of energy and by overcompensating with positivity, the person in question often has an even worse negative reaction when the results aren’t as good as expected. This leads to a vicious circle of hyper negativity and strained positivity which breeds even more depression. The stoic philosophy scraps the notion of negativity and positivity all together and adds a rational layer to the person’s perspective, allowing him or her to take action based on logic. This does not add any value or meaning into the things that are happening around the person and therefore relieves him or her of the pressure to relate to it. This makes it less likely that the person slips into a depression and enables people who are already suffering from depression to pull themselves out of it.
Did you know that stoicism is the foundation of such therapeutic practices as Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy and Logotherapy. We at Cross Culture Therapy will be studying these techniques in the coming weeks and will hopefully be using them in our therapy sessions very soon.
Cross Culture Therapy
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Philip Andersson – Life Coach
Philip Andersson is a life-coach who is currently studying to become a psychotherapist. He treats people suffering from depression, phobias and anxiety. Having been raised in Hong Kong and having lived in England and Japan as an adult, Philip also treats people who are overcome with feelings of displacement and rudderlessness associated with a global-nomad lifestyle such as Third Culture Kids, Cross Culture Kids, Migrants and Asylum Seekers.