The Opponent

There is an obstacle, an opponent, holding you back. Pushing you to the ropes. Beating you to the ground.

This opponent stands over you.

It feels insurmountable. It feels unstoppable. And, worst of all, it feels perpetual.

When you push back, it resists. When you regain footing, it pushes forward. When you break, it stands strong. It cannot be stopped.

But does that matter?

Get after it anyway.

What reward is there for the one who runs? For the one who hides from his opponent?

There is nothing for them.

But for the one who holds, he is strengthened.

In bodybuilding, it is the weight’s resistance that strengthens you. By pushing against the opposition, you gain strength. Is this principle not universal?

Your opponent is the weight, bearing down on you. You must fight it. By fighting that which opposes you, you build the skills to beat it.

By fighting laziness, you gain discipline. By fighting submission, you gain toughness. By fighting fear, you gain courage.

Think you’re too weak to beat the opponent? Fight it. By fighting weakness, you build strength.

Think you’re not smart enough to strategize against the opponent? Fight it. By fighting ignorance, you build intelligence.

We learn by practice. You solve the problem by trying to solve the problem. Bad writer? You must write and endure the bad writing. Eventually, you will find clarity and style. socially awkward? You must socialize and endure the awkward moments. Eventually, you will develop charisma. So fight the opponent.

And keep fighting.

It may stand tall. Even if you push forward, it may still be standing tall. But the more you fight, the stronger and smarter you become. You learn how it moves. You learn how it attacks. You learn how it defends. Can’t go through it? Go under it. Can’t go under it? Go over it. Can’t go over it? Flank it. You fight until you learn how to beat it.

You do not run from your problems. You do not hide from your fears. You do not shrink. Shrinking is not the answer, being strong is. The light at the end of the tunnel is found not by running backward but by marching forward. By simply showing up and fighting, you will build the skills and learn how to beat the opponent.

So the next time you find an opponent standing across the ring from you, plant your feet, lace your gloves, bite down on your mouthpiece, push forward, and remind yourself, “When I push against the unstoppable, I become stronger. When I strategize against the insurmountable, I become smarter. When I rise up to fight against that which stands over me, I bring myself to a higher level. Because what opposes me, in truth, strengthens me.”

The Joy of Stoicism: Perception (Draft 1)

Note: After writing this post, I spent 2 weeks studying writing and another week rewriting this post. I have added a revised version of this post, but I chose to keep this first draft so you could see the improvements I made with the second draft.

“Who then is invincible? The one who cannot be upset by anything outside their reasoned choice.” – Epictetus, Discourses, 1.18.21

Our thoughts control our mind, and our mind controls our emotions. As what we eat determines our physical health, what we think determines our mental health.

But what is it to think well? We know how to eat well and to be healthy. Doctors and numerous books on nutrition and dieting tell us so. But how do you think yourself to better mental health? When you are sick, you take medicine. However, when you are discouraged by failure, what do you do? When you are torn by a breakup, how do you recover? When you miss a job offer, what then? The answers may be found in Stoicism.

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