Writing The Soul
Applying the Stoic Technique of the Self
You have tripped yourself and stumbled over another contradiction. It has deprived you of your sleep, because it is time to work on yourself again. You say you are clever, cunning; subversive even! And you take pride in it. But perhaps you are just another hypocrite. You have made a promise this week and you failed to uphold it. No matter how you dissimulate this simple given, it remains the truth. Whether you made a half-hearted promise or simply failed to keep it despite your best efforts, remains inconsequential. So have a seat now and listen to what you have to say to yourself and ponder over these words very carefully, as we wait for your well-deserved headache to subside.
This week, you made a promise to yourself, that you wouldn’t drink, and you failed to keep the promise. You drank. Now your sleep-cycle is derailed and you are in a terrible mood. The promise was only half-kept, as you failed to stay sober through the whole week. The promise half-kept, the work half-done and your character is now halved as well. You have taken another step towards being a half-person. How will this translate into the rest of your life? Your goals, ambitions and obligations? Do you aim to be a half-person here as well? Leaving things aside before they reach their natural end? Abandoning every pursuit to incompleteness? A half-life, is not a life worth living. So you may as well end it now. But even here you might leave things incomplete and only cause yourself useless pain.
It is simple. You either make the promise, or you do not. And once you do, you either keep it, or you admit your failure. The first, in the present case is no longer an option, the latter — you could still succeed in. So admit to yourself now, in earnest, that you have encountered a failure and claim what little unity is still left to you. Good. Continue working your way through. You must not blame others (real or imagined persons) for what is at heart your failure and your responsibility. You must not hide from yourself like a coward when you fail to live up to your own standard. From now on, each time you make a promise to either yourself or another, you do your best to uphold the vow or admit defeat immediately, once you fail.