How Stoic philosophy helped me control my anger when a close friend betrayed me

Stoic philosophy helped when best friend betrayed me
Image source: Boonn Hem / Ideapod

A friend of 12 years betrayed me. The secrets I’ve shared with him were spread on social media to seek revenge and I felt like my world was shattered.

For months, I was very angry. I felt violated and ashamed.

Should I drop down to his level and return the favor?

Should I start rumors about him and try to tear his reputation apart like he did with mine?

No. Instead of dropping down to his level, I chose Stoic philosophy.

What is Stoicism?

According to Philosophy Basics:

“Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy (developed by Zeno of Citium around 300 B.C. as a refinement of Cynicism) which teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions. It does not seek to extinguish emotions completely, but rather seeks to transform them by a resolute Asceticism (a voluntary abstinence from worldly pleasures), which enables a person to develop clear judgment, inner calm and freedom from suffering (which it considers the ultimate goal).”

Whoa! You’re probably a little confused for a moment there but bear with me. Continue reading.

For example, you wake up in the morning and as you’re getting ready for the day, you tell yourself, “If somebody gives me the finger while we’re traffic, that’s OK. People are jerks like that.” While driving home from work, you get cut off and on top of that, he flips you off. You not only expected the one finger salute but you didn’t even react to it. You simply just moved on. You expected suffering therefore his actions didn’t make a dent in your emotions at all.

It’s more or less like this: if you want good things to happen all the time, you will be greatly disappointed. It doesn’t work like that. However, if you expect bad things to happen all the time, it isn’t so bad once the bad thing you expected arises.

Stoic philosophy helped when close friend betrayed me

When they go low, you step over them and walk away

I know, you’re probably thinking, “12 years? I would have gone crazy on him!” Yes, if this had occurred in my early teens I would have but after studying the philosophy for almost a decade, I realized that it was healthier to allow myself to be angry than acting out the emotions.

Stoic philosophy helped when best friend betrayed me

What do I mean by this? I did not deny what I was feeling. I expressed it openly it among people that I trust and I was honest to what I felt. I think that anger is still a taboo in our society and so we force ourselves to bottle it up and not feel the sensation of anger. In my situation, I used art therapy and music. We can learn so much from ourselves if we could just allow ourselves to be truthful to what we’re experiencing. There’s 7.6 billion people in this world, why should I allow one to bother me?

You’re the master of your universe

Whether it’s a family member, friend or lover that hurt you just remember this:

Stoic philosophy helped when best friend betrayed me

To share your thoughts on this article, respond to the idea I posted on Ideapod.

NOW WATCH: Introduction to Stoicism, posted on Ideapod by Joes

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