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Mastering the Self
By Paula O’Sullivan
‘Self-Mastery and the consistent care of one’s mind, body and soul, are essential to finding one’s higher self, and living the life of one’s dreams’ – Robin Sharma Quote
As within, so without, to thine own self be true. Self- Mastery means learning self-control. It means learning how to control our thoughts and our emotions. (See Emotional Intelligence Part 9) It means being the same in all situations and having a core of stability within. We are only as strong as our greatest weakness, don’t worry, life will test you on this!
Most of us are like chameleons, we are constantly changing in response to what is happening to us, without consistency. When we’re in the process of achieving self-mastery we begin to realize that ‘Between stimulus and response, man has the freedom to choose his reaction’- (Victor Frankl)
Self-mastery gives us a choice, it helps us to be more in control of ourselves. And no it doesn’t give us a licence to control others. Ask yourself this: If I’m not in control of my thoughts and emotions, then who is? You don’t have to be a victim, you can choose to be a survivor instead.
Most of us have been conditioned to focus on altering the externals in our lives. We wait for everyone else and everything to change first. This makes for a very frustrating life journey!
When we change, we will find that things change around us. We’ll either accept it, change something, or we’ll detach either physically or mentally from it. Check out Eckhart Tolle’s work on this. ‘Nothing happens until something moves’ (Einstein)
You’re probably asking the question ‘Well why do I have to be the first to make a move or change?’ I’ll answer you with this question. ‘Well how’s that going for you so far?’ If you’re happy with your results, carry on as you are.
Well for me anyway it didn’t bring me to anywhere worth going. It was with beginning the process of learning self-mastery that my life began to change in many happier ways. I’m not saying I’m there yet. Life has many lessons and challenges for me that always keep me on my toes. I’m a work in progress, I’m further on than I was, and I’m getting there, as they say.
Ok so how do you begin this process?
Start observing yourself in various situations. Are you doing or saying what you want to do and say, or is there some kind of an agenda to be met? Are you looking for approval? Is it meeting an unmet need? Are you doing and saying things to just fit in with the general crowd, or are you being true to yourself? Watch your reactions. Watch any self-talk. Read my article on Self- Talk Part 5. Also see Part 1. Coping With Depression, where I highlight the two main ways of thinking and how they affect us. As we master ourselves, we begin to notice all these things, and with the observation comes the choice in how we really want to be. See my article on Mindfulness Part 6.
Identify your needs versus your wants
This is really important. Most of us are on auto pilot (not fully aware) we all have basic needs, including security, sex, love and belonging, financial, freedom, fun etc. True needs take into account the higher greater good and serve our soul. Our wants can override this and serve our ego or lower selves, they can lead us into selfishness and a desire to satisfy our own personal interests without concern for how it affects others. There’s an element of developing integrity with self-mastery.
Start practicing to strengthen your will by testing yourself in small ways. Delay gratification in some area of your life regularly. Watch your wants, watch the impulses, they can be so strong. For example: I want that biscuit, the drug, the high, the sexual release, the escape etc. but I’m consciously deciding that I’m not going to have that right now. I may wait until later, or I may defer it until tomorrow, or some other time, but now in this moment, when I’m aware, I can choose to delay, if I want to. Observe your thoughts and feelings when you do this. Or another example: I want to say this to this person, but I’m going stay quiet instead. I’m choosing to be fully present with this person, without being compelled to make the snide remark, or say the things that could destroy the relationship, the trust etc. And yes sometimes we do have to speak up, but play with this to strengthen you will. You may decide to speak up in another moment instead. Practice also doing things you’d rather not do right now, like take out the bins, do the dishes, laundry, paperwork etc. I use a mental symbol of a foot kicking me in the ass, and saying Just Do It! I always have my sense of humour with me, it comes in handy! Notice how much energy we take up in resisting doing things. Your ego will protest, and cause a fuss, but observe it. Practice with little things, and you’ll see where you can be free of external control.
Keep your promises
Do what you say you will do. How many times have you said you’d do something and didn’t? How did you feel? Say what you mean and mean what you say. You will learn to trust yourself, and others will learn to trust you also. Practice keeping your promises to yourself and others. It starts with the little things.
Practice being consistent
I mentioned earlier that we are like chameleons, we are not the same people all the time. If someone is mean to us, we are mean to them, or if we’re afraid, we’ll be mean behind their backs instead. If life throws us a curve ball, we disintegrate, however momentarily. We’re like boats without oars, constantly being driven this way and that by relentless waves. Our self-esteem plays a huge part in this too, and the more you develop a balanced self-esteem, the more you can be consistent with anything that happens. It gives you a strong core of stability that helps you to trust yourself, and be trusted. You will be the same you in all situations. Check out my article on Self-esteem Part 7.
Part 22 – Meeting Your Unmet Needs
Paula is an Author / Hypnotherapist / Reiki Healer / Artist / Photographer, in Blessington Co. Wicklow. firstname.lastname@example.org / Phone 086 0848398 All her articles to date are on her blog email@example.com