What is Self-Mastery?
As I continue to release new content on my website, my focus is going to be on what I will refer to as the process of self-mastery. I’m interested in discussing self-mastery at length because it’s such a deep and endlessly fascinating subject. I’m convinced that the study and practice of self-mastery, in all of its forms, is not only the most important undertaking for you as a human being, but also the most valuable pursuit for humanity as a whole.
Over the last few of years, I have spent much of my time working on my own self-mastery process, and therefore, I’m speaking from personal experience when I inform you of the often subtle but powerful effects it has on one’s life. My journey started at the age of twenty-one when I became somewhat interested in watching motivational/self-help videos online and also casually reading books related to the same subject. One book that really stands out for me as a catalyst is The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. This book is spiritual in nature and encourages the reader to become aware of their true self through inner reflection. While I deeply connected with this book and others, it wasn’t until I was living in Asia a couple of years later that I began to take this work seriously. It was at this point that I had the intuition that mastering myself was the most important thing I could be doing with my life.
Like I explained in my previous article, I can now see how this work is starting to profoundly change me. I’m not the same person that I used to be, and I mean that in the most positive way. Don’t get me wrong, I still have many problems that I’m dealing with, and there are certain aspects of my life have not been improved much. But even so, a definite internal shift has taken place. A shift which has infiltrated my everyday life and continues to change the way in which I interact with the world.
So let me explain exactly what I mean by the process of self-mastery. I have divided it into three separate categories and will give a brief description of each one.
Self-education is a vital aspect of self-mastery. I have spent countless hours on self-education. What self-education means to me is to broadly educate yourself on how the world actually works, and to do this without relying on a specific educational body such as a school, university, or even your own culture. What this means is studying a variety of material from different sources. You could potentially start by reading quality books by modern authors which may provide you with some sort of grounding, and then you can turn your attention to more obscure sources such as reading books from different times and cultures. It’s important that you stay open-minded when you are undertaking self-education, don’t become trapped in an echo-chamber. Remember, you don’t know what you don’t know, and most likely, there’s a lot that you don’t know.
An individual who is self-aware can make decisions, major and minor, which have a positive impact on their own lives and the lives of those around them. Self-awareness is absolutely key in the process of self-mastery as developing your level of self-awareness will set you on the right path. In a world where we are constantly told who we should be and what we should be doing, one of the most powerful things we can understand is who we actually are. In my view, self-awareness can be divided into two categories:
1. Knowing yourself — A practical understanding of what makes you tick. What type of person are you? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What type of career is right for you? What are your values? What are your goals? Where are you going right? Where are you going wrong?
If you have never been deeply introspective before, the answers to some of these questions may take a while to crack. However, when you do crack them, the information will be extremely useful as you move forward in your life. You will begin to understand yourself on a deep level, and your actions will arise from a place of authenticity. You will be in a position to design a life of your choosing.
2. Knowing reality — This could also be defined as mindfulness. This, in my view, is a deeper level of self-awareness. Knowing reality or mindfulness is the ability to literally see things for what they are as they are happening. This is particularly useful for becoming aware of the truth behind your own actions, thoughts, and emotions in real time. For an example, if you easily become irrationally angry over small issues, you can catch yourself in the act and become aware of your unnecessary emotional response. This aspect of self-awareness can be practiced by a vigilant observation of yourself and by using certain techniques such as meditation. Over time, practice in this area this will lead to mastery over your actions, thoughts, and emotions. Pretty cool!
Of the three aspects of self-mastery, this one is the hardest to put into words. I would describe it as being able to see life beyond your own personal agenda. It involves the act of giving back to the world through creativity and service, the capacity to recognize beauty in the act of being rather than doing, and to value the pursuit of truth over all else. Self-transcendence is by far the most profound, the most important, and the most difficult aspect of self-mastery to attain and sustain in your life.
While I have broken up self-mastery into these three separate distinctions, they tend to overlap in practice. For example, self-education helps you to better understand yourself, and understanding yourself makes self-transcendence easier.
It’s also worthwhile noting that all three of these distinctions, to a certain degree, become more prominent with age. In general, older people tend to have a better understanding of the world, themselves, and have realised the value of self-transcendence, however, this isn’t always the case. What I hope to achieve is to speed up the process of self-mastery by spreading awareness of its importance, and by helping people to actively work on their own inner growth as they go about their daily lives.
I think it’s important to remember that the value of our lives does not come from what we possess or even achieve, but from the people we become. It’s only once we have developed ourselves to the highest levels that we are best placed to have a positive and meaningful impact on the world.
“For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories.” — Plato
If the idea of mastering yourself is intriguing to you, which it should be, my advice would be to start by getting into the habit of reading more high-quality books. This will get you started on the self-education aspect of self-mastery. I’m going to be creating a book list in the very near future containing some of my must-read books. Also make sure to subscribe to my email list and follow along as I release more insightful articles and videos on the subject of self-mastery.
My next article will be coming very soon and where I will begin to dig deeper into the specifics of the self-mastery process. Talk to you soon!
Originally published at Ben Worrall.