If I had to summarize or give an overview of the lessons I learned last year. I want to share this: learning how to master myself.
Let’s get deeper; hopefully, this helps you.
When I speak about mastering myself, I am talking about it on an emotional and energetic level and being in control of oneself.
Now, it’s not to say I was an out-of-control, emotional wreck, but rather, I would allow situations, people and events to bother me to an extent.
And this is true for most people, especially those with high empathy.
So here are some takeaways about Mastering Oneself.
- You have to be emotionally intelligent. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and be highly aware of your thoughts, feelings, and emotions and also be mindful of those of others. But it first begins with you. One of the things I learnt was that the body is susceptible and receptive, and before we can even speak, our mind has already sent the signal to our body. So take, for example, a case where you may be upset, and your brain interprets the data and sees the “threat” ( whatever is frustrating). Your brain has already quickly signalled to the body, and then you react by speaking, getting into an argument or saying something unkind. I have learned that if you pay a little bit more attention to yourself, you can catch your body and the feelings of frustration, anger, sadness, or whatever just before you open your mouth. And the more you pay attention, the more you realize you can pause or delay the reaction. The reaction, of course, is you speaking. Learning about emotional intelligence encouraged me to take a hard look at myself. And how I was thinking and feeling in my body, and then, of course, being able to manage my verbal reactions.
- The next step in Mastering oneself is realizing that perception is indeed reality. How you perceive any situation or person dictates how you treat them and how you behave. I am still working on this one as it is challenging. But actively seeking to see the good in situations and people helps much. And especially if you are on a leadership journey.
- In mastering oneself, I learnt that when you conflict with someone, sometimes it’s not just the other person. It can also be you. What is your role in the conflict, and how has your behaviour contributed to the conflict? Let me put it this way. What could you have done better or differently? What helped me was a meditation I learned in my Emotional Intelligence class called Just Like Me. And it reminded me that the other person had fears, hopes, dreams, made mistakes, needed forgiveness – LIKE ME or just I say JUST LIKE YOU. If you do this enough times, the person with whom you are in conflict is more humanized.
- A key lesson I learned was about giving myself grace when facing challenges; I know I am ambitious, and I like to get it right the first time around. But I realized that if a situation is new for me and to me, I am not expected to know how to manage it. And it’s okay if I don’t know. That means there is an opportunity to learn. It sounds simple, but that breakthrough was so powerful for me. Sometimes, we need to give ourselves grace. We need to recognize when we have done all we can, when we have put in 100% of the effort and then leave it.
- Another lesson I learnt is that when you are on a mission or in specific roles, you must be careful with your words. People will twist what you’ve said for their own gain. Or people will take what you’ve said to heart, and it will sit with them. People will ask your opinion and, when given, use it as leverage. The higher up you climb, the more your words are influential. Powerful people or people in positions of authority cannot be frivolous with their language. Your words are powerful, especially as a leader. Always remember that.
- Lastly, the lesson I learned is about training myself to become highly aware. Being aware is about being intentional or deliberate with your words, actions, and behaviour. I am not going to lie. This is hard. We only realize how much of our behaviour is unconscious once we decide to be intentional in our lives. When you decide to do this, you will realize just how many moments you have control over. You will realize very quickly when you are being positive and when you are just being downright negative or toxic. Making a decision on how to respond and behave is the hallmark of someone on their way to master themselves.
If this article intrigued you, you’d love to become more aware and master yourself. Start by paying attention to yourself: your feelings, emotions, thoughts, and behaviour. The first time you try, you will forget that you are doing this. But do not stop, continue. And you will find moments of opportunity to bring forth your best self. But most importantly, you will be on the path to self-mastery.