Kung Fu? Body contortion? Balancing on a pole? Sword swallowing…?!?
Ok, look. Here’s the deal. There’s a lot on social media, in movies, on TV, and in books about Mastering Yourself. The most extreme example that’s given of Self Mastery is the ability to walk on smoldering coals. I’m not about that life. I won’t put myself through pain unless absolutely necessary, I’m not here to flex my pain threshold to anyone because you know what? If a Tylenol can fix it, I’m popping a Tylenol.
Forget everything you’ve seen or heard on Self Mastery. This month is NOT about “sucking it up” and “pushing through the pain”. Learning not to scream when something hurts (physically or emotionally) isn’t Mastering Yourself. That is self-inflicted cruelty. Mastering Yourself is NOT about stuffing down emotions or desires, it’s not about putting up a hard front, and it most definitely is not about “learning to go it on your own”. That’s just… well, it’s a lose-lose. Not only is it bad for your mental health, it also cuts you off from the world and a lot of learning opportunities you would have otherwise seized.
A lot of Mastering Yourself is about developing self-discipline and self-control. Which are both easily confused with the above things I’ve just told you it’s really not about.
Self-discipline is very simply about making sure that you are where you need to be, because that’s where YOU need to be, and because of something YOU want. Or doing something you need to do, because that thing forms a part of something YOU want. It’s about getting yourself to do something, IF it fits in with your own goals, needs, or wants. As children, we’re too often taught that self-discipline requires you to do things you don’t want to do. Like practicing the piano, even though you have zero interest in it. The prerogative we have as adults is that we can choose what to commit to, and what we make ourselves do. The trick is to channel that self-discipline in a way that’s constructive to you.
Sometimes that means creating time. You know that horrible hour before the sun comes up, and before your kids/significant other/boss/whoever it is that needs your attention is up… Yeah Queen. You use that time, and you forfeit some sleep. Sometimes it means doing something you “don’t wanna” because you gotta. And you do it because even if it’s something you’d rather not be doing, that thing fits into your vision for yourself. If you’re freelancing or setting up your own business, you might find yourself really hating the idea of bookkeeping. But you’re not going to find yourself in a good place financially if you don’t commit to keeping your finances sorted.
Self-control is about learning to listen to the wants and needs of your own body, your own ambition, and your own purpose above the noise around you. It’s about freeing yourself from toxic internal dialogue that does not serve you, and instead tapping into your values and your purpose to find guidance to lead you to your next, best, move. Here’s an example. Ever been told you’ll lose weight if you just had a bit more self-control over food? It’s absolute rubbish. Of course, you need to balance your calorie consumption, that’s simple science. But really craving a massive piece of chocolate cake after a huge fatty meal is something a lot of us have struggled with, and we find ourselves unable to rely on this notion of “self-control” to fight off that craving. Because it’s not actually self-control that we’re asked to exercise, no matter how people put it. We’re asked to suppress a much larger issue (hormonal, emotional, physical, whatever) through sheer willpower.
Self-control is none of that. It’s taking control of our own impulses and the emotions that don’t serve us and reining them in for a moment, to allow us to examine the underlying causes of the impulses or emotions. It’s about taking that break that allows us to see through the storm that’s going on inside of ourselves, in order to clear out our minds and really think concretely about the situation at hand. It’s learning to question our inner turmoil. It’s about asking the impulse to hang on one second while we examine the root cause. And… if at the end of the day, we’re just really looking for a piece of chocolate cake just because it’s chocolate cake, then we assess what would be a reasonable portion and dig in.
Ok, with some of that cleared up, let’s get into a really important aspect of Mastering Yourself, one that touches on both self discipline and self control. That is about taking control of your thoughts and emotions, instead of letting them control you.
I want you to create a habit that will allow you to reposition your thinking and emotions quickly and effectively. In situations where you would feel anger, fear, resentment, the desire to procrastinate, or any other counterproductive emotions, you can use that habit to acknowledge these emotions, examine their causes, and find a solution for yourself…. Even if that solution means walking away from someone, a job, a business opportunity, a client… you get it. Or waking up at the worst time imaginable!
With enough practice, the process to reposition yourself will take you literally minutes, or even seconds. But, and you’ll know this caveat by heart now… you have to put in the work to see the results.
All right, with all that being said, let’s get you in the habit of repositioning yourself mentally!
- Assess the situation. You’re faced with something that has elicited a negative emotion or reflex. Feeling lazy maybe… hurt, humiliated, overwhelmed. Take a step back and consider what has just happened to you, who may be involved (it could be just you, sometimes we’re our own biggest source of stress), and what it is that you’re feeling exactly. Like hunger (which could sometimes actually be thirst, emotional emptiness, or a host of other feelings), a lot of our other feelings can often be misinterpreted. The important part is just to assess the situation, and get in tune with what’s actually happening, instead of what we perceive is happening.
- Ask yourself who is responsible. Be honest, without being cruel or judgmental. Do you have a part to play in the situation? This isn’t a space where you’ll be playing victim, own up if you need to. If you’re feeling sorry for yourself because circumstances are difficult and that’s why you’re procrastinating… Well, that’s completely fine. Yeah, life gets really hard. But you’re not a victim of your circumstances, you just have circumstances (like everyone else). So take responsibility. If someone else’s behavior is out of line or unacceptable, acknowledge their part to play. But if you’re feeling angry or hurt by their actions, take responsibility for your own emotional response. You can control how you feel, so if you have not yet taken control of that aspect, then acknowledge that this is something you want to be doing.
- Ask yourself (realistically) what impact the situation has on you. We usually tend to over-dramatise the effect of situations, simply because it allows us to prepare for the worst case scenario. It’s a survival mechanism, and it’s one that’s particularly unhelpful when you’re trying to Master Yourself. It gets your mind going into overdrive plotting out the absolute most horrifying things that could happen, instead of channeling those thoughts into finding an actual, relevant solution. Oh, if you find that the situation doesn’t really impact you, say for example you’re dealing with a rude person who’s harmless, and you’re able to let go of the anger towards them… Hey, look at you! You just identified a situation in your life where you don’t have to do anything except walk away, and maybe go get an iced coffee and chill a bit. You don’t need to give it a second thought.
- Set out a solution that addresses the impact. If you’re facing financial loss, then come up with a plan to buffer that loss or make up the amount somewhere along the line. If you need legal advice on your next steps, get it. If you’ve identified an impact to your productivity, find a way to fix it, and think about how you can learn from this situation. Turn your mind to creating solutions, instead of fixating on problems.
- Remind yourself of who you are. That’s it. You’ve done the work these past months, and you do know who you are. You know what you’ve gone through to get here and or at least, you know who you want to become. Remind yourself that you are not the things that happen to you, you are not your or anybody else’s bad decisions, you are very simply, purely, perfectly imperfectly, you! Wrap up this incident in a neat package. You have assessed the situation, you have taken responsibility for your share, you know the impact, you’ve found (or you’re working on) a solution, and you are still you at the end of the day. Nothing changes that. Take power in that knowledge. You are the only YOU that exists! Powerful.
All right Queen, over to you. There’s a lot of material for you to get yourself to a place of Self Mastery, so get stuck in the material and get to practicing.
For my Queens who are struggling with self discipline, one of the issues you might have is simply being overwhelmed due to the amount of work you need (or feel you need) to do. I have a course here for you on how to prioritize your tasks, to get rid of the overwhelm. Even if you’re not particularly overwhelmed, but you’re a part of the Business Mentoring Programme, ensuring proper work planning is important to maximize your revenue stream, so check it out anyway!
You got this Queen. If you’re struggling with anything or are just looking for feedback from the community, do leave a comment below!
As always Queen…
Fix your crown.