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2024 / April

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I stay, or should I go?

The Retune Blog - 19th April 2024

When asked about the meaning of the Clash’s hit Should I Stay or Should I go, their former guitarist and songwriter, Mick Jones, revealed that it was just the sort of song they liked to play. It was written to be a hit rather than a warning that he was about to leave the band or a reflection on a relationship.

Yet listening to the song again this week it really feels like it has something to remind us about when considered in the light of the Ancient Greek philosophy of stoicism. Let’s look at a lyric I guess most of us have sung along too at one time or another:

So you gotta let me know. Should I stay, or should I go?

The protagonist is in a quandary. They don’t know what to do, faced with opposing choices, but feeling they are totally reliant on the actions of someone else so they can make a decision.

In the song it’s almost an existential crisis, but it’s a feeling to which I’m sure we can all relate: the circumstances are dictating my choice, not me.

This is where stoicism comes in. A stoic approach in this situation would ask; what can I influence, and focus on what can be done rather than what can’t be done. Further, it would suggest that the decision we make doesn’t have to be perfect but rather, taking into account the circumstances, should be one which fits with our vision and values.

So, applying this to the song, there would be less reliance on the decision of the other person:

So come on and let me know

And more focus on what real choices can I make in this situation which will help me adapt to this situation and keep me on track. We might even consider re-writing the lyric as:

So, I’m gonna let you know, that I’ll decide if I stay or if I go.

Now that is an empowering lyric!

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Founder and Director of Metanoeo CIC and Metanoeo Coaching. Working with individuals, communities and business to co-create #wellbeing4all through life coaching, resources for living life well and training and supporting life coaches.

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