Mastery of Ourselves
Part Three – The Mind
In my last blog, I discussed how the second step towards self-mastery was to experience the full range of one’s emotions in order to not be fearful of experiencing emotion. Once one is “in tune” with our body’s rhythms and not controlled by our emotions, our mind can be free to focus, and be in the present moment.
The Next Step – Mastering our Mind
The mind is often associated with the almighty “ego.” Some philosophies teach the suppression of, or the elimination of the ego to achieve peace and enlightenment. However, I feel the ego has a place in our lives and is designed to protect us from harm. I see it as a safety mechanism that although operates in fear and narcissism, gives us a sense of control. When we work towards controlling the ego instead of letting the ego control us, we take the first step towards gaining mastery of our mind.
How do we gain control of the ego?
In order to gain control of your ego and mind, start by striving to see both sides of every situation you encounter. If you perceive that you have been wronged, the ego comes forth to make sure that you never feel that way again. This skews your perception causing you to hold on to the hurt and humiliation that you felt. At first we cannot see how that painful experience is actually serving us and helping us to grow and evolve.
On the flip side, whenever we see someone or a situation as perfect, we perceive only the positive and avoid focusing on the downside. Once again our perception is skewed and we become attached to only the “good” which then prevents us from seeing the truth – that there are two sides. Over time, this leads to disappointment, because no event or any person has only one side.
A Balanced Perception is the Key
Our mind is very resourceful and will create stories and alter our memories to support what we felt at a particular moment to justify our point of view. It is a form of creative editing and the way the mind lies to us. Many times we create our own stories and believe something solely based on what we feel supports our perception.
The challenge lies in being able to see both sides of every experience that we encounter. The moment we are able to see an equal amount of positives and negatives in our experience is the moment when our perception is brought into balance, and the emotional charge dissipates.
What is the right perception to have?
The right perception is always yours. No two individuals will ever see everything in exactly the same way. This is because we are all unique individuals with our own set of values. Our values determine our perception. We love connecting with others who share values similar to our own, but are challenged by those with a different set of values. We are balanced when we are able to hold onto our perception without feeling superior or inferior to another.
Useful strategies to gain mastery of our mind
Strategy One: Work on discovering your value system. By understanding what is highest on your value system, you can better understand why you do what you do. Everyone is most inspired to do that which is highest on their values and least inspired by that which is lowest. By knowing our values we can be less judgmental of ourselves when we are not motivated to do something, even though we think we should.
Strategy Two: Become aware of your thoughts. Make it a practice to step back from time to time to analyze what you think is true and determine whether it is because you want to see it that way, or it is because there is something else that you are not seeing. Make sure that you are not creating a scenario just to fit your own desire. Make sure your thoughts are balanced.
Strategy Three: Monitor your mental chatter. Are you constantly going back and forth wondering if you should do this or do that? A good rule of thumb is that anytime you say, “I should, I ought to, I have to, I need to, I must” do something – oftentimes it is not what you really want to do. Practice listening to your mental chatter and strive to do things that you really want to do. This may appear impractical due to our supposed “obligations,” but the more that we can strive to do things that we really want to do the greater mastery of our mind and ultimately our life.