our judgments cause us suffering

External events are not inherently good or bad. They are what they are. It’s the way that we perceive them that determines whether we suffer because of them or not. As Epictetus pointed out, “It isn’t events themselves that disturb people, but only their judgments about them.”

We trip and fall on the road, we overhear a coworker gossiping about us, we come across a negative comment with regard to our work, we read a nasty tweet or worst of all, our home internet stops working, and it gets us going in the downward spiral ruining our day. We need to let go of this unnecessary pain. Negative emotions such as anger, irritation and frustration cause us more suffering.

When we think of an event as bad, we let it cause disturbance in our lives and impact us negatively. We start blaming the event and other people without taking full responsibility over our response towards it.

Our judgments can get us stuck in the victim mindset. If we keep blaming events and other people for our failures or lack of progress, we’ll never be able to end our suffering. That’s why, it’s important to cultivate a healthy perception in life otherwise we will cause our own downfall.  

Marcus Aurelius wrote in his journal, “You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”

We need to take a step back before reacting to an event, reframe our perception, and look at the matter in hand objectively. In that way, we’ll be able to view the event as it is, and stop ourselves from bringing disturbance in our experience and then blaming it on the event. In his book Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl echoes this truth in these words, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”