The pursuit of self-mastery is a life-long endeavor. Unfortunately, it’s not something you can be naturally gifted at, or pick up with relative ease. It’s rooted in the conscious application of your knowledge to make better life choices. You can’t “game” any system or resort to hacks that will accelerate the process. In short, it involves a lot of trial and error. Achieving mastery over anything requires consistency. That’s the real secret – if there is one at all.
So how do you actually do it? The answer will vary depending on who you’re asking. Some will undoubtedly point to the spiritual path, while others will offer a more pragmatic approach. Neither is wrong. In fact, they’re both necessary and ultimately lead to the same destination. Self-mastery is about building a sense of inner fortitude that can’t be swayed by negative influences. It’s not a singular quality, but the sum total of your thoughts, beliefs, and actions.
Here’s how you can align your intentions to bring out the best of yourself in every situation:
1. Start Taking Accountability for Your Actions
You can’t deny the influence your actions have on both yourself and others. When you refuse to acknowledge your part in events that don’t turn out as expected, you stagnate. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in your relationships, work-life, or even your hobbies. You’ll never find the solution to your problems if you’re unable to look at yourself from a critical perspective. You can’t shift blame onto others indefinitely and continue to develop as a human being – your personal responsibility is non-negotiable. Accountability starts with your introspection and being completely honest about why you’re in your current situation. If you’re not getting to where you want to be, then ask yourself, ‘when did this slide begin?’ Only you are capable of correcting your course. No one is coming to save you but yourself, and there is no reward for playing the victim.
2. Use Your “Failures” as an Opportunity to Improve
Throughout life, you’re going to experience setbacks. But that doesn’t mean you can’t turn them to your advantage. The defining quality that separates those who succeed and those who fall by the wayside is how they respond. Life is a learning game. You don’t need to be perfect every time you turn your hand to something new. But you do need to approach it with an attitude of perseverance. It takes approximately 10,000 hours to gain mastery over a new skill. That’s a lot of mistakes. But then, even if you need to change directions completely, don’t view those efforts as dead-ends or “failures.” Use your hindsight to make better decisions in the future. “Fail forwards.” Invert your thinking and turn your missteps into an opportunity for growth. Instead of asking yourself, ‘Why me?’ ask yourself, ‘Why now? What is this experience here to teach me?’
3. Move Away from Instant Gratification and Start Playing the Long Game
One of the unfortunate side effects modern technology – and social media – has gifted us with is the desire to experience everything now. It’s reasonable to want our meals when we’re hungry and public services to run on time. But today’s world moves at such a rate that we want almost everything else yesterday. However, there’s a lot to be said for playing a more deliberate game in life. By delaying gratification, you’re no longer ruled by your urges. It allows you to direct your energy into a more clearly defined vision for the future, which will ultimately yield bigger rewards. Sure, living for the moment does have a certain appeal. But if it becomes your default position, you risk falling into entitlement. You lose the ability to be flexible, which can lead to tensions within your relationships and emotionally charged decisions that you may later come to regret.
4. Replace the Idea ‘Hope’ with Positive Action
Hope may sound harmless enough. But if you invest so much of yourself into the idea that everything is going to ‘work out,’ it can take you away from what you could be doing right now. It replaces pragmatism with fantasy-based “what if’s?” What makes hope such a negative emotion is that it’s rooted in a ‘possible future.’ There’s no certainty that what you wish for is going to come true. And when it doesn’t, the crashing low you experience can feel like the end of the world. Hope leads to hopelessness. The more active you can be in improving your situation, the more likely you are to achieve your goals. Be accepting of your circumstances, but don’t fall into the trap of becoming the ‘passive observer.’ You can make a difference, no matter how small it might appear. Hope has killed more dreams than positive action ever will.
5. Become the Objective Observer and Use Your Discernment
From an early age, the subconscious mind is processing all your experiences and cataloging them as reference points that will inform your future behavior. Unfortunately, there’s no way around this, as you’re too young to realize what’s going on. In later life, however, you can challenge your programming. But to do this, you must become completely unbiased. You need to develop the habit of questioning yourself relentlessly – and be accepting of some hard truths. This allows you to become the objective observer. In essence, it’s a more expansive way of practicing mindfulness. From this perspective, you can side-step your ego and distinguish between what’s a true need and just a want. By exercising your discernment on a regular basis, you create your own value system that supersedes your subconscious. You create your own identity and filter of truth, which in turn increases your problem-solving skills.
6. Let Go of What No Longer Serves You
Letting go can be a hard skill to master. But everything has a finite existence. This may be hard to accept, as there’s a certain level of comfort in the familiar. It’s something we can predict. But over time, we allow toxic people into our lives, fall into negative habits, and take on limiting beliefs. It means we have to go through a purging process. We need to rid ourselves of the dead weight that’s adding nothing to our life and only making demands of our energy. This isn’t always easy. You might have to make some tough decisions about who’s really on your side and who’s holding you back. But what’s worse is allowing your self-limiting beliefs to keep you where you are right now. Remember, you aren’t closing yourself off from experiences, but simply making room to allow new ones in.
7. Never Believe You’ve Got It All Figured Out
The true master never stops learning. And allowing your beliefs to be challenged is one of the greatest character traits there is – you can learn far more by saying less and being receptive to what others have to share. Everyone possesses their own nuggets of truth based on their unique set of experiences. And even if there is a lot of common ground, there are multiple ways of expressing a concept – each one coming from a different angle. Perspective is such a valuable commodity; it does no harm to have an old idea reaffirmed in a new context. Whenever you enter into a conversation, leave your ego at the door, and adopt a stance of listening first. The moment you think there’s nothing left to learn is the moment you start losing touch with the world around you. Your assumptions are the mother of arrogance, which in turn is one step away from bias.
Sam is a Beyond Quantum Healing Hypnosis practitioner. He creates profound transformations in those he works with, helping them resolve deep-seated emotional traumas, chronic health issues, and discover their true purpose in life. If you’re ready to take the next step in your personaldevelopment and healing journey, you can find out more at Awake and Align
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Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.