As a human, a lot of things can be said to be out of your control; nature, life, other people’s feelings and reactions to your action. But there is one thing you will always have control over in any given situation – YOURSELF.
Having control over oneself is recognizing, understanding and making the most of your mind, spirit, soul and body. Your life is largely determined by your thoughts, feelings, actions, habits etc. These make up who you are. Now imagine being able to master all these? It means attaining a heightened level of rational thinking and your decision making is based on logic rather than emotions.
But the mastery of self can only be achieved through the awareness of oneself.
What then is Self-Awareness?
Self-awareness is the awareness of your individuality. You recognize that you are separate from other people. Your memories are proof that you have a unified self through time.
René Descartes posited the centrality of thought processes and his notion of mind and self, and how the doubt of self creates the awareness of the self “cogito ergo sum” – (I think; therefore, I exist).
Antoine Léonard furthered this by expanding on it; “dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum” – (I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am). Hence, the doubt of self is the awareness of self and the proof of the existence of the self and our sense of self is created by physical processes in the brain.
But let’s not dive too deep into philosophy here. In essence, when you are highly self-aware, objectively you can evaluate yourself, manage your thought processes and how they translate into actions.
For you to attain success of any form, you must first understand that your routine behavior creates impact on your future opportunities. The more you understand yourself, the more control you have over your life.
What is Self-Mastery
Self-Mastery is the ability to acknowledge, analyze and control one’s desires or impulses. It is the ability to respond to a situation through intention and awareness as opposed to reacting without reason.
“One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”
― Leonardo da Vinci
Self-mastery isn’t about controlling yourself or dominating those fearful, aggressive, and nasty parts within us. It’s about getting to know these parts, but then transcending them.
Learning to master the self is also learning to discipline the self. At this point you are not controlled by your body, urges or feelings.
Self-Mastery requires the utmost patience and diligence to achieve and even at that, full self-actualization is realistically unachievable. It is the process of becoming and an endless commitment to constant improvement of the Self.
Process of Self-Mastery
People are not born completely self-aware. We only have a vague sense of self until we acutely focus. Our individuality only hangs on the periphery of our vision and is often neglected by a lot of people because they are unable to become the focus of themselves, while some choose oblivion so as not to question their existence.
Like everything else, there is a process to mastery, it is not instant or immediate; you must follow the sequences before you achieve that which you want. There are stages you need to follow before you can attain the mastery that you seek, and these are;
Knowledge -> Awareness -> Development -> Mastery
With the accumulation of knowledge of Self, you become more aware and better identify what you know of yourself. With awareness, you can deduce where your strengths lie and begin to develop on them and accept the parts or you that maybe flawed by seeing beyond them to the potential you truly hold. Once you can develop your awareness, you begin to develop habits, beliefs and attitudes that lead to fulfillment and self-induced happiness.
You become more disciplined, persistent and focused on your goals. Self-Mastery is a constant and never-ending process. It is a transformation of self slowly, steadily, and daily, that requires deep conviction that greatness can be achieved.
On the journey towards Self-Mastery, there are chances that we might subconsciously self-sabotage our development because in as much we fear failure, we also fear the unknown nature of success and what it brings. We are conditioned to be comfortable in a state called Homeostasis “a state of balance that is known to us and that we are comfortable in”. So, any attempt at change either positive or negative, will psychologically met a rebuff and your brain will try to return to the state of homeostasis that it is used to.
Knowing this will help you accept and be kind to yourself when there is a backslide on your journey because the path to Self-Mastery is always difficult sometimes and moving into the unknown can be difficult. You just have to trust your process.