“How does it help, my husband, to make misfortune heavier by complaining about it? This is more fit for a king — to seize your adversities head on. The more precarious his situation, the more imminent his fall from power, the more firmly he should be resolved to stand and fight. It isn’t manly to retreat from fortune.” — Seneca, Oedipus, 80
Dealing with events that don’t go to plan is the greatest reveal of a person’s true character.
Do they respond with anger, frustration, or impatience? Are they rude, disrespectful, or dismissive?
Or do they show empathy, grace, and compassion? Do they pitch in to solve the problem or cast blame?
I have had times in my life when I displayed the not-so-great aspects of my character. Times when I was impatient when I could have shown grace. Times when I was angry when I could have been empathetic.
And that’s the thing, I chose to react poorly when I could have just as easily chosen to respond well. I could have been helpful rather than adding to the problem.
As a mother, I am modeling behaviour for my daughter to learn. So when I see her behaving in ways that are less than desirable, it would be easy to cast blame, but that doesn’t solve the problem. Instead, I reflect on my own recent behaviour. Has she recently seen me behaving this way? Maybe yes, maybe no. I’m not perfect and neither is she. Perfect behaviour and choices are not expected. But learning is expected.
Childhood is the time when we learn to have good character, to respond to situations rather than reacting to them. It is a transition taking place all through the childhood years, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Our children need to see us dealing with our own adversities in good ways.
They need to see our character revealed through our adversities. What character traits are you revealing?
Join me in reading and discussing The Daily Stoic*: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman.
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