Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“What is Self-Mastery?”
“What does it make you think of?”
“It makes me think of Willpower and Self-Control.”
“We could say,
Self-Mastery is Discipline.
The capacity to do what needs to be done regardless of how you feel about it. (Positive Willpower)
The capacity to keep your impulses in check and delay gratification. (Negative Willpower)
Discipline is one essential aspect of it.
Now, think what happens when you’re facing a perceived threat in the environment.”
“Your sympathetic system kicks in, which shuts down your prefrontal cortex (cortical inhibition) and triggers the Fight-Flight-Freeze (FFF) mode.”
“To be able to function effectively in this situation requires the capacity to calm yourself down, relax, and regain control.
Moreover, in the words of George Leonard,
Relaxation is essential for the full expression of power.
“Josh Waitkin has a similar one:
To turn it on, learn to turn it off.
The better you can turn it off, the more powerfully you can turn in on.
So we could say,
Self-Mastery is Relaxation Mastery.
This is another essential aspect of it.
And yet another essential aspect of it has to do with emotions.
Most of our failings are due to the incapacity to deal with emotional discomfort.
Unpleasant feelings subtly shape the trajectory of your life. Certain things trigger unpleasant feelings, so you avoid them. What you avoid is not the things themselves – they’re neutral –, but dealing with those unpleasant feelings.
The outer obstacle is an illusion. The inner obstacle is all there is.
Your capacity to deal with unpleasant feelings narrows or expands your possibility-horizon.
We could say,
Self-Mastery is Emotional Mastery.“
“Reminds me of a quote by Karla McLaren from her book The Art of Empathy:
When your emotional skills are poor, people won’t meet you. They will meet your emotional reactivity and your problems with whichever emotion has arisen.
“That’s my life story.
Only now that I’ve made Emotional Mastery the central focus of my life have I begun to understand it and get better at it. So many people never do.
I still have a very long way to go.”