Willpower

I recently stopped biting my nails. I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember and now for the first time in as long as I can remember, they have white caps on the top. For anyone else this may be a totally normal phenomena but for me this is fucking weird.

What caused this sudden stop? I don’t know. Perhaps it has a thing to do with my meditations on the crown chakra and to activate this chakra, one must be able to release earthly attachments. One of the things that I feel is an attachment, is an attachment to this particular bad habit. A habit that countless hours of “Stop Biting Your Nails” Youtube hypnosis couldn’t cure. It was a matter of waking up on morning three weeks ago and deciding just not to bite them anymore.

Funnily enough, this was about a week into my reading of Meditations – and this is where I find some quote that could have burrowed into my subconscious. Before, I took breaks from biting my nails and then resumed because I knew I would again eventually, and I activated the mad paranoid bomb-vest of self-destruction. Perhaps stoicism in general has helped me disarm that; would you damage your car intentionally? No. So why damage the organic vehicle?

The same argument can be made for drugs, alcohol and self-harm. But at least for the latter experience, I am grateful for not ever feeling the need to in a physical way. Then again, in the past I’ve done lots of things that could be described as self-harm. Anyone who knows me could tell you that I’ve got a track record for having no willpower. From sobriety to maintaining a romantic relationship for longer than three months.

Is it stoicism or boredom that kicks our bad habits? That’s a question to other stoics who may be reading this. Does a bee, who’s a part of the Whole like human beings, harm itself knowingly? No. It would be a detriment to the hive…

“What does not benefit the hive does not benefit the bee either.” Meditations 6.53

I’m a believer in both fate and personal responsibility. I am accepting of all the bad choices I have made and habits I have kept or broken to this point with acknowledgement of both of those factors. That being said, I wonder why now is the time I’m able to stop myself from biting my nails? From a contextual perspective, nothing has changed in my personal, professional, financial or spiritual circumstances. One could say I’ve even more reason to anxiously bite my nails with certain workplace dramas and fractured friendships and minor conflicts with family members. I’m still taking my daily citalopram tablets and I’m still in love with someone who has made it clear to me that she is not in a position to reciprocate romantically. The externals are stagnant. Yet, my internal world is experiencing a shift.

Can we guess why?

“Dig inside yourself. Inside is a spring of goodness ready to gush at any moment, if you keep digging.Meditations 7.59

I say “perhaps” a lot in my posts and that’s down to fact that in my quest to be a wise man, I am avoiding the absolutes. I know that ultimately, I know nothing.

However, that being said I know that already, I can observe tangible effects of this philosophy. Of course it feels strange to look at my nails now and the sensation is entirely alien. Yet, I’ve got no desire to bite them or pick them off. Is this willpower or is this knowing full well that the only person I’ll disappoint is myself in doing it so why would I do that?

“Love the art which you have learnt, and take comfort in it. Go through the remainder of your life in sincere commitment of all your being to the gods, and never making yourself a tyrant or slave to any man.” Meditations 4.31

In this case, what’s more appropriate would be:

“…and never making yourself a tyrant or slave to any habit.

Z3N0

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