Worldly Wisdom: Inscrutable Composure

“Imperturbability, the spirit’s most sublime quality. An impassive person’s very superiority frees them from subjection to vulgar, passing impressions. There’s no greater mastery than mastery over yourself and your emotions; it amounts to a triumph of free will. And when passion affects you, don’t let it affect your office, least of all when this is important. This is an intelligent way of avoiding upsets and a shortcut to renown.”

Baltasar Gracián

In the realm of power, demonstrations of weakness are dangerous leveragers that can work against you and spell your doom. To embody a self-possessed imperturbability is the mark of an elevated character that has mastered his emotions and conquered his passions. Composure is not only relevant in the domain of power, to successfully play the social game demands the cultivation of self-control, one of the most indispensable qualities of good judgement and superior character. Furthermore, possessing such an invaluable faculty accelerates your fame and earns you prestige.

To develop a heightened composure, you must overcome your fits of anger and negative emotions, overt demonstrations of upset, and justification. These weak spectacles wreck your self-possession. A simple practice you should discipline yourself with is postponement from acting on your fits of anger and bad temper, and stopping yourself from divulging your feelings through wretched body gestures; slouched over, hands in the pocket, fleeting eye contact, emotional facial expressions etc.

These gestures are easily discernible, even by people who are not necessarily competent in reading social cues. When the signalling is obvious and too apparent, only few will fail to comprehend them. In doing so, then, you are shooting yourself in the foot and impairing your standing, because a man is not intended to behave like a woman in matters of social affairs. A man is intended to present himself like a well-read and strong man would; good posture, loose arms, exposed chest, and assertive yet steady eye contact which does not easily waver according to circumstance.

To be composed is to be firmly grounded in purpose and to understand yourself so deeply that the appearance and disappearance of passions, both the delightful and the dreadful ones, are observed from an objective and unbiased perspective, avoiding any heedless involvement with those negative emotions which can endanger your reputation and, in some instances, your life. The wise man knows that to be carefully and purposefully inscrutable is beneficial for the circumvention of potential threat and for the concealment of underlying incentives. Furthermore, an air of inscrutability only amplifies your apparent greatness in the face of the people, since power is a game of appearances. There is an enigmatic air that surrounds the inscrutable character, when a character is not easily discernible, it generates a mysterious intrigue and an inexplicable element that enthrals people with reverence.

To sustain such an aura is not simple, it demands serious self-control, both with your actions and your words. You must, then, cultivate an element of impassivity, to be able to hold back from making an expression and retain an inexpressive poker face that can’t possibly be deciphered by the general public. The art of impassivity has imbued in it a kind of assured arrogance that is not hubris but rather a composed and cold response conveyed in a very subtle manner. When this model of demeanour is mastered, it becomes less of strain to conduct yourself as such and preserve your sense of self-control and soundness of mind.

What’s more, when you reclaim such a heightened caution and control over your reactivity, you are more at peace with your environment, you are not constantly seeking out baseless justification and quarrelling with the foolish in an attempt to prove yourself worthy. The self-possessed and composed man knows himself and carries conviction, he need not search out for confirmation; this will only be a manifestation of self-doubt and hesitancy. Postponed reactivity also buys you time for careful calculation and scheming, it is the trick of the trade, as it were, and the wise employ it prudently in ideal situations to leverage their position. When you react at once, not only are you more disposed to say or do something indiscreet and idiotic, but you also subvert your powerful position through an apparent lack of forbearance, which is a crucial aspect of even temper.

Through consistent practice, your tolerance will strengthen and so will your endurance. Application is of supreme importance, if you are careless with your demeanour, and you lack the proper perception to apply the practice in the relevant conditions, there will be evident strife between your conduct and the circumstance at hand. It necessitates the cultivation of good taste and sensitive subtlety to discern how the practice can be employed constructively in your day to day affairs. Remember, restraint is tough to live through in the beginning since you are essentially suppressing and containing what your feelings are compelling you to act on, but the effect of committing yourself to discipline is a far-reaching mastery over your emotions, an extremely useful faculty that is conventional among the wise.

Going back to composure, a useful practice that you should take into account is meditation. There are various beneficial side effects to meditation, but people tend to develop a capacity for cognisance, sensitivity to social atmospheres and undertones, presence of mind, increased calmness and tranquillity, and a sense of loosening from reality that gives way for objectivity. These useful ramifications enhance your general composure and accentuate your psychopathic element, giving you an edge over your peers in social matters.

In addition to meditation, weightlifting also supports the cultivation of these qualities. Developing your posterior-chain muscles and strengthening your upper-back through weighted chin-ups, pull-ups and rowing motions with perfect form, are all of service to your health and good character. Furthermore, when you have an adequately developed back and posture, you present yourself in a manly, bold and aggressive fashion which commands a higher degree of respect and admiration. Not to mention, the development of a well built back makes you firmly grounded to the earth; there is a definite sense of steadiness and footing that implants your presence to the ground and a spirited aura that draws people in to accompany it.

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