Hey, Women & Women—how’s your week started off so far?
Outside of outreach and questions, sometimes blog topics pop into my head and heart easily. Other times my writing needs time, space, and marinating. Not this week. This week’s idea came up because of a recent challenge and the opportunity to be a reactive you-know-what or to practice self-mastery. I briefly cited self-mastery via a Yoda reference in this FSW post before, but realized I haven’t written about it exclusively. Let’s get to it and reflect on it together!
What is Mastery and Why Does It Even Matter?
A quick, general definition:
We’ll use Merriam-Webster’s definition of mastery to dive in. It’s having an authority, maybe displaying a “great skill,” or mastering a subject.
But what does it mean to “master our lives?”
Self-mastery, according to Merriam-Webster, is having an ability to control one’s desires or impulses, a.k.a. having self-control. It’s a lovely, simplified definition but what about when people, places, and things, come at us?
What’s the FSW Definition?
While this is just my understanding, the two definitions above seem to circulate around control very specifically. That’s pretty obvious, but what comes to mind is also one’s intentionality or objectives. So, what if we tried something a little different? What would it look like if mastery–and definitely self-mastery–was less about control per se, but more about releasing, patience, and observation? Would that be a relief?
Thinking the subject over and having to practice it myself about 48 hours ago, made me think of the steps I try to take. No doubt, sometimes I get fiery and all, “Oh, Hell no!” But, that fire eventually dies down and then I tend to face an ongoing question: Do I want have more calm in life or more chaos? No, things aren’t always linear and there are a ton of nuances and gray in life… But will I rise up beyond the chaos to be my best self? Here’s some tricks, if you ever ask yourself the same kind of question.
Trick #1: Get a Feel for Your Ability to Choose Calm Over Chaos
Before the day even gets started and before you step into your “typical routine,” give yourself a moment. In this minute, or five, or ten, sit with yourself. Feel your body as-is, feel your rhythmic breathing, and allow for calm to settle in you. See that it’s there, even in a moment, and give yourself some credit. We can’t always find it. Take this sense of calm and start to believe in your singular power to carry it through your day. Then you have the choice, after witnessing that you can have calm, how to apply it as you go hour by hour or, in times of stress, moment by moment. If we can visualize—but more importantly feel in our heartbeat and limbs– our ability to be calm ahead of time, we can face challenges and be settled in our power proactively.
Trick #2: Recognize the Opportunities to Practice Self-Mastery
As the day goes on, or the week, or the month, there are about one million opportunities to practice self-mastery, right? You’ve already seen on FSW in many posts I’m not against feeling feelings. They happen. Like previously said, we all feel stuck. Or we get into the repetitive grind of drama or conditions out of our control. So, it helps to make a choice… Even if you have to repeat this choice every other minute–>Am I acting as a master in this moment or am I acting on a lower level that doesn’t serve my highest good? Here’s some inner dialogue to work through, only as examples, and your life is your life:
- Is X person’s opinion worth losing my $h!t over? Nah, their opinion is really just their opinion.
- Maybe this person or situation is draining me again and again… Could be time to live in my power and rethink options, or change how much time we spend together.
- This (bleep) is poking at me again… They’re trying to bicker and cause a fight. I’m not buying it, because my time and energy is precious and I need to focus on other things that fill my bucket.
Trick #3: Apply This Inner Wisdom, Your Mastery, and Make It a Habit
To be 100% fair and real, there are systematic problems in place that need fixing. These systems can be barriers to success and accessibility. That being said, I’ve seen some face obstacles with some mind-blowing strength and mountain-defeating wisdom that you can see in their ancient eyes and heart. We can do the same, and I dare say, we are meant to live in our wisdom and can definitely do it. No, we may not be in a place or space to do it all the time and it can be a work in progress.
But a habit can build on a mixture of releasing what doesn’t work for us, holding patience and grace for ourselves in times of change, and observing our areas of improvement. Day after day if we have to. We can face the archaic systems knowing within we are habitually masters and we are lighting the way for and with others.
Trick #4: Use Your Body as an Ally or a Promoter of Mastery
We’ve all seen kiddos do a Superman or Wonder Woman pose. Shoot, some of us have tried it before a meeting we don’t want to do or before an interview for a job to feel better. This can all be good, and do you notice how in that “power pose” you feel a little bigger? A little stronger? Maybe a little more grounded and focused?
Let’s add to this idea: use your body as an ally in self-mastery, too. In other FSW pieces we’ve talked about feeling small or an inch tall, tender or vulnerable. In my recent conversation that could’ve gone sideways, I didn’t cross arms or commit to other body language that can give different messages. I looked the person in the eye and didn’t respond with an attack. Oh yeah, it totally could’ve happened and might’ve been justifiable. But, a few hours later or a week later, would it have made a difference to this person? Perhaps, or, perhaps they’d stay in a rigid mindset and my loss of energy is just that: lost.
Point is, my body wasn’t caved in or meek. It was upright; square. For sure, I already know this body belongs to a womxn who has survived so much; it’s memory is strong. And it will also survive a crap comment or rough situation. Yours can, too, my friend. And if you’re not feeling it in your body, maybe use the next bonus tip to give yourself a boost.
Bonus Tip: Create an Environment That Supports Your Development
Not everyone has space to make a yoga studio, or a temple or church, in their living room for their betterment. However, there are little tricks I use to remind myself of my mastery or to “come back to center” and practice it. I use little tricks or aides that are grounding for me:
- Lighting a candle for sensory relaxation and reflection, and letting my inner master come forth.
- Carrying stones in my pocket to remind me of strength and natural beauty.
- Playing calming music to drown out noise that’s overwhelming.
- Sniffing my tea in a warm mug and feeling the steam on my face.
- Using techniques in yoga or qigong, and doing them in little micromovements (like breathing or swaying). If I’m in a place or a conversation that I can’t break out of a mat, these mini-changes bring calm and clarity.
- When surrounded by folks who are not on the same level of reflection, my breath is what helps me focus on the present rather than letting my face or emotions get the best of me. I’ll breath in and out while on the inside I might go, “WTH.” At the end of the day though, their beliefs are not mine, and their opinions are an opportunity to not take things personally because I’ll never be able to change them. Truth is: they’ll change or they won’t.
Practicing self-mastery, and even not taking things personally (as often as possible), has become a freeing exercise. We live in a very reactive culture sometimes and tension definitely occurs. And there’s no denying it: we’re a planet of 7 billion+ humans and even more organisms beyond that. And there are a lot of transitions happening. It’s not about becoming passive and just sitting on the sidelines watching life go by.
On the contrary, if we can each “master” our behavior and compassionately reassess others’ needs and realities, then act… Wow, would this be a better place to be. We’re all not there yet and we can’t control others’ behavior, but I think that’s pressed me to try to balance mine. And my thoughts. My ego. Or assess my present circumstances and what my future could be as a master.
So, which tricks from the list do you find helpful or what do you think would work for you? Feel free to write a comment below or email me here if you’re struggling with the idea of self-mastery or living from your Inner Wisdom. As you can see, I’m still working on this too, but the real secret is to work less and find YOU more often. Chat with you soon!