Rock Your Week: 10 Stoic Lessons Modern Women Should Embody

WARNING: CONTAINS LANGUAGE

With life moving at breakneck speeds (it often feels), where demands on our time and emotions seem never-ending, it’s essential for women to find ways to preserve their emotional energy. Drawing inspiration from ancient Stoic philosophy, which provides timeless wisdom for navigating life’s challenges (self-esteem, relationships, conflict, intimacy, health, and emotional well-being), modern women can learn valuable lessons that empower them to stay centered, resilient, and focused on what truly matters.

Allow this article to be your gateway into the transformative realm of Stoic philosophy. Here, you will discover ten profound lessons inspired by the wisdom of ancient Stoics. Designed to pave the way for a life-altering journey, this beautiful philosophy holds immense power for modern women in today’s chaotic world. It is my hope that these teachings will ignite a spark within you to delve deeper into its timeless truths. Quotes from both Stoic figures and individuals who exemplify Stoic principles, this article illuminates the relevance of ancient teachings in modern times. Let us embark on this enlightening voyage together!

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10 STOIC LESSONS ALL WOMEN SHOULD EMBODY TO ROCK THEIR WEEK

1. EVERY MORNING LAY THE GROUNDWORK OF YOUR DAY

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly.

marcus aurelius | stoic philosopher

Every year in the United States from June 1st to November 30th, states on the east coast get in preparation for Hurricane season. As soon as there are signs of something brewing, residents will typically get a five-day heads up.

Where the storm actually goes, despite the colorful spaghetti noodles that we get to see on the radar every day –no one can be sure until the last minute. But when it does come, those who anticipate the elements that naturally occur with hurricanes will fare better mentally than those who decided to wing it.

In your day-to-day life, the same is true for modern women. Although there are occurrences that truly plop out of the sky catching us off guard, I am talking about the occurrences that are the nature of your life. You have lived long enough to be familiar with life’s inevitable ebbs and flows.

You know that the responsibility of being a driver may bring you encounters with traffic or car accidents that cause delays. If you have to hit the grocery store on your way home tonight, you run the risk of more unwanted encounters. Maybe a newbie cashier who needs help. Or worse, a shopper in front of you giving that same cashier a hard time.

Tell me, would you ever leave the house without an umbrella if you knew there would be a 100% chance of rain? When events that should be anticipated catch us off guard, unnecessary stress is caused. Our patience runs thin.

Wake up tomorrow and lay the groundwork. Allow yourself to experience the empowerment of always being ready.

2. WHAT IS IN YOUR CONTROL

Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within your control. And some things are not.

epictetus | stoic philosopher

The late Queen Elizabeth II proved to be successful in being the longest-reigning monarch in British history. She carried quite a responsibility in which she had to remain neutral and not interfere with political matters of the state, exercising self-control and awareness numerous times daily. She set a clear line separating what her actual duties entailed. Despite having a lack of control in many areas, she remained in the loop of all matters.

By understanding what was in her control and what was not, she was able to use her energy effectively. She could focus on instilling a sense of safety and confidence in her people amidst times of chaos and uncertainty. A characteristic modeled only in the best of leaders. When shit hits the fan and there is nothing more to do, make waves where it matters.  

For women, there is nothing more frustrating, than feeling powerless and out of control in their surroundings. But, there is also nothing more useless than spending energy on something that is going to play out the same way whether you claw the floors or not.

The next time a situation presents itself where you are feeling resistance, save a nail girl! Instead, make a list so you can see what you can control and what you cannot. Choose to use your mental energy wisely.

3. RELEASE YOUR JUDGEMENT

Your mind will take shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human spirit is colored by such impressions.

marcus aurelius | stoic philosopher

A classic Stoic principle teaches us, individuals are not disturbed by what happens, but rather by their own opinion of it.

The world of showbiz can offer insight to teach us about this invaluable lesson. Take it from our beloved WWE female wrestlers (shoutout to my faves, the former WWE Bella Twins). These modern women have taken negativity by the horns and flipped it on its head like a pro! When confronted with booing crowds, they ingeniously turned the tables and used those negative chants as fuel.

To them, even a negative reaction was better than no reaction at all. It meant that one way or another they have created some sort of impact. These fierce ladies knew themselves inside out and had unshakable confidence in their values and character. This gave them the upper hand. They made a bold decision: To not let anything interpreted as negative get in the way of how they perform. To not allow the boos of the crowd to dictate their moods in a negative way.

People are going to push your buttons. Co-workers, bosses, children, your parents, your friends and family, your partner even. And it’s not all necessarily out of intentional harm, but it does happen. And boy can it piss you off!

Think of it this way though, however, you judge this person coming at you to be, your judgment can either hurt you or empower you.

If you can’t quite flip the script and someone’s comments are bothering you then use them as a self-exploration practice. Ask yourself these questions: Is the person saying something to hurt you or to help you? Can you handle constructive criticism? Is there a smidge of truth possibly to what this person is saying? Does this person matter to you at all? And if they are being intentionally ugly are you really going to take their word?

Use that natural detective ability we all have and start investigating. There is much opportunity here. Choose not to be bothered by people. Go the extra mile. Transform what initially starts as a negative judgment into a catalyst for personal growth and empowerment. You will have an advantage over others this way.

4. CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES WISELY

Your energy is a valuable resource, distribute it wisely.

jay samit | american author, and speaker

Actress and Activist, Emma Watson, better known for her role as Hermione in Harry Potter, made a big decision in taking a step back from the Hollywood stage and stepping into a new role on the World’s stage.

As the newest Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, Emma finds herself in an incredibly powerful position. By promoting the HeForShe campaign, she is igniting important conversations about gender equality and women’s empowerment in the workplace. Though this role allows her to inspire and bring meaningful change to the world, she is also in a vulnerable space. Most especially to those who oppose her.

Rather than spending her time on Instagram stories, fighting with her haters, and being consumed by every confrontation and conflict, her efforts are on her initiative.

In both professional and personal settings, modern women should consider making similar decisions. Is it worth expressing your opinion to someone who is clearly irrational in their arguments? Is it worth engaging in a disagreement with your partner about when to complete a chore? And does it have to be the way you do it?

When faced with a dilemma that feels like a personal attack on you or an injustice to the way you like to do things, are you going to fight every single part of it? Or are you going to focus on what really matters?

Choose the latter girl.

5. CULTIVATE RESILIENCE AND CONFIDENCE

I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent –no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.

seneca| stoic philosopher

In 2009, at the MTV Video Music Awards, Taylor Swift, who was only 19 years old at the time, experienced a memorable interruption during her acceptance speech by Kanye West. Alcohol-induced, and in a very condescending manner, he abruptly took the microphone away from Taylor just to let her know (and everyone watching) that Beyonce’s music video was superior. This unexpected incident left Taylor AND Beyonce backstage in tears, with little time for Taylor to compose herself before her upcoming performance.

The first part of her song was pre-recorded, featuring her on a New York City subway, while the second half was meant to be performed live. Astonishingly composed and with dry eyes, Taylor took the stage after the pre-recorded video ended creating the illusion of her running off the subway and popping out directly onto stage.

That night, Taylor could have chosen to leave. She could have acted out as the 19-year-old girl that she was, succumbing to the pressure of the situation. However, she chose to rise above it all. Taylor demonstrated her resilience by maintaining her composure, addressing the incident later, and refusing to let it define her. Her healing process was her bravely expressing her emotions and vulnerability through public statements. Additionally, she responded creatively through her art.

In the face of public adversity, modern women like Taylor Swift not only heal but also thrive in their careers. Not in spite of it, but because of it. They don’t let challenges hold them back; instead, they use them as stepping stones to success. Taylor Swift has become an inspiration to many, proving that resilience is not limited to a select few.

People vary in resilience but can definitely nurture and strengthen it. Don’t go looking for the fight, but when it shows up, lean into it, baby!

PS. Beyonce also won an award that night and pulled Taylor Siwft up there with her. #SISTERHOOD

6. ENJOY THE RIDE OR GET DRAGGED

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them

maya angelou | american memoirist, poet, and civil rights activist

The Stoic Philosopher Seneca once remarked that uncontrolled anger can be more harmful to us than the initial provocation. This is especially relevant for modern women who may find themselves feeling angry and disturbed when things don’t go their way. Not only does this negatively impact their physical well-being, but it also poses a risk of causing external harm. For instance, in a fit of anger, one might say hurtful things to a loved one or display aggressive behavior in front of their children during traffic jams. This could lead to regrettable consequences such as damaging relationships or losing control over personal goals like maintaining sobriety or sticking to a healthy diet. You have now allowed the external events to reduce you.

When you have become reduced by such things you put your relationships in danger, you not only jeopardize them but also inadvertently exhibit negative patterns of behavior to your observant children, you damage property. You hurt yourself.

Author Byron Katie says “No one wants their children to get sick, no one wants to be in a car accident; but when these things happen, HOW CAN IT BE HELPFUL TO MENTALLY ARGUE WITH THEM”.

Well…how can it be? So the next time you start feeling that pull, try the opposite. Be flexible as you go with the flow. It is not a form of surrender, rather it is a merger of resilience and acceptance. Two keys in keeping you afloat during life’s currents.

7. TRUE SELF-DISCIPLINE IS MODERATION

True self control means moderation not just in what we do, but also how we think, how we feel, how we comport oursleves in a world of chaos and consfusion

ryan holiday | modern stoic, american author

The human body is truly remarkable. When left to do what bodies do as natural functions, it protects us at its highest potential out of natural instinct for survival.

With special bodily functions set in place, our intricate system ensures we avoid excessive extremes. For example, when an individual is in a very intense state of emotional stress, fear, or pain, the body sounds off the alarms and goes into protection mode. Aka –we pass the fuck out. This protective response prevents overwhelming our senses any further and lays us out almost as if a reset. A time out. A time for pause.

However, while our physical body (when working properly) self-regulates itself, our human minds like to go against the body from time to time and do what it wants. Most specifically when it comes to pleasure, we don’t always (or willingly) recognize when enough is enough, leading us to indulgences that may not serve our higher goals. Struggling with moderation, or Temperance as the Stoics call it, extends beyond our food and fitness goals; it encompasses any part of our lives where we need to exercise our wills and make choices based on our well-being over our sometimes irrational desires.

We can work too much. We can exercise too much. And for sure we worry too much. Embracing too much of anything can indeed prove detrimental. Other than nutrition and fitness, where else in your life are you doing something too much?

8. QUESTION THE RULES

Above all, it is necessary for a person to have a true self-estimate, for we commonly think we can do more than we really can

seneca | stoic philosopher

In today’s exceptional era, modern women are experiencing unprecedented opportunities. Now, more than ever, it is crucial for us to not only challenge societal expectations (re-tracing the footsteps of trailblazing women like the first female aviator Amelia Earhart, NASCAR driver Danika Patrick, or former UFC champion Ronda Rousey) but on the other end of the spectrum, to challenge ourselves and question why we struggle with notions like perfectionism and other self-imposed limitations. Wedged between societal expectations and self-imposed rigid rules, we unconsciously hinder our own process of reaching our full potential.

So the next time you find yourself the last one awake doing the dishes, or working on that paper till you can’t see anymore because of your perfectionism OR someone tells you that you can’t do this because they don’t know someone like you who has done it before – ask questions.

And then maybe rebel a little.

9. TAKE BACK YOUR TIME

Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how you use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and wont accept.

anna taylor | award winning new zealand author

Unfortunately a lot of us women will learn this lesson way later in life.

In the book “Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger”, author Soraya Chemaly ( a MUST read for all modern women) cites a health study that was conducted in the UK by the NHS, polling more than 8,000 people finding that in each stage of life, compared to men, women reported being less satisfied than them. With similar studies and data from the United States as well as other countries, the survey results revealed it was not until a female’s EIGHTH DECADE of life that her happiness surpassed that of men.

Obvi it has a lot to do with the woman’s role of being a caretaker (and let’s be honest no 30-year-old female wants an 80-year-old dude so his man train has finally run out of steam). But not to just children. To aging parents, to sick partners….insert all the people here.

The study is an eye-opener suggesting that by the time she is 80 years old, she can finally worry ONLY about herself.

But that doesn’t have to be you. Or me. We can start setting boundaries right now that protect our time.

We can assess ourselves every day, every week, every month and figure out our needs. And it starts with the practice of being comfortable saying no to others and yes to ourselves. Worry free of how that may make us look. We should not hate or feel burdened by the stages in life. We shouldn’t sound so down every decade when we hit a new age range. Our lives should be the exact opposite! We should love every stage. Every hat ever worn. Every experience that we’ve been blessed to experience. Because that’s what it means to live. That is life!

10. BE HAPPY NOW

The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today is to be grateful for what you have right now. And the more grateful you are the more you get.

oprah winfrey | american talk show host, actress, and author

Today’s tv mogul, Oprah Winfrey is a total rag to riches story. As one of the most successful and influential modern women in the media, she has publicly opened up about her struggles and the experiences she has endured throughout her life. Despite her immense wealth and fame, she embodies a very important Stoic discipline: To truly be happy and to be happy now.

Rather than incessantly pursuing new ventures or continuously starting businesses for the mere sake of accumulating more, Oprah recognizes the impermanence of material possessions. She knows that she can lose everything at any moment and that true happiness comes from within. External success or possessions will never bring it, and if you keep chasing that ghost, you risk losing everything in front of you. Right now.

I’ll be happy when I reach this weight, I’ll be happy when I get this body part fixed, I’ll be happy when I get that job….but will you?

Conditional happiness is nothing more than a trap. The achievement thing that you think you want to achieve to finally reach that happiness itch is the tip of the iceberg. Underneath… external recognition, acceptance, attachment, and validation are what lurk.

Like a quick hit of dope, after the good feeling goes away, you are left anxious. Unsatisfied. The yearning starts again. Society and social media have conditioned us to believe that happiness is found at the top. But the hard cold truth is (pun intended) we can either :

a)choose to be happy now or

b) chase it only to find that it was never a destination, but rather a state of mind.

CONCLUDING REMARKS FOR MODERN WOMEN

Whether you’re a professional, a mother, or both, these Stoic principles are only the beginning in offering you a strategy for navigating the complexities of modern life.

It is a philosophy that offers us the wisdom of the ancient Greeks combined with the practicality of the modern world. As you read, the goal is not to escape life’s difficulties but to learn how to better handle them with grace and with fortitude. Although it has been around for over two millennia, it remains as relevant today as it did then.

Now go on modern woman –go kick some ass this week!

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