Self Mastery

massage stones and water lillies
Massage Stones and Water Lilies, by Sponchia

You are not your Body.

You are not your Thoughts.

You are not your Feelings.

You are not your Job, your Status, your Roles, or your Relationships.

You are not even your Soul.

You, the person that you are with all of his flaws and wonders is what happens when all those things come together.  You are the harmony of many parts that shape and transform one another.  You are Alchemy in action, an incredible chain reaction of changes.  You are more fluid, more transformable than you can possibly know.

A change in one for the better makes every part of you better for the change.

Every part of you is in service to the whole, making a better happier person, if they are doing their job, or making an unhappy and miserable one when they do not.

If you want to be the best person possible – the happiest, the healthiest, the wisest – you must make sure all of it serves you.

  • You must make sure your body is fit and healthy,
  • You must direct and discipline your thoughts, train them with logic, and brace them with knowledge.
  • You must marshal and command your feelings.
  • You have to be engaged with your job and ensure that you are achieving and advancing.
  • You have to command respect in the way you speak and act.
  • You have to define your roles for yourself, negotiate them, and then throw yourself into them.
  • You must nurture your relationships, by filling your life with good people and taking the time to care for them.
  • You have to care for your soul by being a force for positive change in the world.

Of all of those things, often the hardest is to take command of our emotions.  We are, as a culture, don’t teach ourselves how to be mindful of our feelings.  We don’t teach people how to choose calm, peace, happiness, joy, or hope.  We rely on blundering in to those things once in awhile.  Or we become addicted to the things that inspire us to feel those feelings, like drugs, thrills, shopping, sex, or religious services.

Mastering your emotions takes time, self-awareness, and discipline.  Of all the things I teach others, I consider it the most valuable.

Today it is a skill I used heavily.

This morning I was scanning through some of my regular Men’s Issues blogs when I came across this story of an American soldiers being dishonourably discharged.  Their crime?  Refusing an order to look the other way while foreign allies raped little boys, often on American bases.

For me this story dredged up a lot of demons from my own past.  I found myself feeling depressed, enraged, hopeless, and sick all at the same time.

But those feelings don’t serve me, and they don’t serve those boys.  I have created, and continue to work on a model for mental health-care program that can help Men deal with their sexual assault experiences.  I have tried to do my part to raise awareness of the issues and impact of childhood experiences of sexual abuse.  I’ve spent money on programs to create shelters here in Canada that could men, both native Canadians and refugees deal with this pain.  The truth is that there is not much more I can do at this time in my life, however much I might want to.

And so to hold these feelings would do nothing for me, but make me miserable and unhappy.  They are feelings that can do no good and a lot of ill.  And so I made the choice not to swallow them, but to put them away, to choose other feelings.

I started by asking myself if I can do more to solve the problem realistically.

And once I had a long talk with myself about what I am and am not capable of (I’m just not qualified to establish a relief program in a war zone, and nobody is going to hand me the millions to do it – even if I know exactly what I would do.)  I chose to accept the reality in front of me.

And then I acknowledged that these feelings can do nothing to make my life better.  Even if I could do something, the feeling of moral outrage I feel would be an obstacle not a tool to make the world a better place.

And so I put the story from my mind, and I resolved not to take in any more news media today that might aggravate and arouse those feelings more.  I instead lifted weights to work off some steam, to tire me out and release the physical energy of the feeling.

I took some time as well to use meditation and EFT techniques to empty my head of needless feelings.

And then I chose to focus on the good things in my life.  I started by practicing gratitude.  Saying “thank you” is cleansing, even if you are not thanking anyone in particular.

  • I said thank you for the son I am about to see born.
  • I said thank you for the wonderful wife I have who loves me so much as to give me that son.
  • I said thank you for the beautiful day.
  • I said thank you for the two loving and affectionate cats seem to know when I am upset and come to cuddle me when I am.
  • I said thank you for living in a place of peace and plenty.

And then once I was in that emotionally calm and clear state, I chose to work into one that was happy and inspired.  I grabbed some albums I’ve been meaning to buy for a long time, and played some songs that I find uplifting and joyous.  I had a long shower and sang out loud.  I even danced a little.

By the end of it I was smiling, and ready to do the things that I need to do to care for myself, my wife, and my clients.  And to keep doing the little things that I can do to make this world a better place.