May 28, 2021 • 27M

Stoic Guide to Navigating Troubled and Toxic Relationships

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Jon Brooks
Modern practical breakdowns of the best ideas in ancient Stoicism
Episode details

In today’s Stoic Handbook podcast, I explain my approach to dealing with difficult relationships.

Difficult relationships are a source of suffering in many of our lives, and the Stoics were aware of this.

Marcus’ Meditations was filled with notes to himself suggesting that he be tolerant and compassionate with others.

This is a famous example:

[When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they cannot tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own - not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are obstructions.

— Marcus Aurelius

In my personal, Stoicism-inspired approach, I use a 3-code system:

  • Code Yellow = Misaligned Relationships

  • Code Orange = Troubled Relationships

  • Code Red = Toxic Relationships

Each level of difficult relationship requires a different approach. What will work with a misaligned relationships could spell disaster for a truly toxic one.

I hope this guide helps, and if you have any questions, I’m always happy to provide further clarity on any of the ideas.