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Shedding refers to the practice of reducing stress and anxiety by becoming aware of the things that agitate us and learning to “shed” them, either by eliminating them altogether or by disengaging from them mentally. This is done through a combination of several Virtues, self-awareness, and focus: Reflection, Temperance, Discipline, and Prudence.

One of the key strategies of Shedding is to use the Pareto Principle to help recognize how many stressors are trivial. Using the Pareto Principle in this manner demonstrates that 80 percent of the things that stress us out don’t even matter. The goal of this becomes figuring out what comprises the 80 percent of things we can let go right away to unburden ourselves.

By using self-awareness, the next step is to disengage from these stressors by learning not to be reactive to everything, and to catch ourselves when we are about to become agitated by a trivial matter. Once this is achieved, Prudence is utilized in order to reason why it doesn’t make sense to overreact or respond to certain stimuli. One tool used to help aid this process is the Analogy of the Rocks.

Analogy of the Rocks #

Each of us carries with us a backpack. As we go through life, we put little rocks into the backpack. Every time we choose to become agitated, annoyed, or stressed over something, we place these rocks into our backpacks. If we accumulate too many rocks, we become overburdened, and our actual health begins to break down. We cannot fully apply ourselves to many things, because the pack is too distracting or unwieldy. It gets in the way. So we must learn to do two things:

  1. remove rocks we have placed in our packs
  2. stop putting rocks in there in the first place

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