Self Mastery can sound like a way to gain control over your mind; to have mastery OVER the self, to override and get rid of your uncomfortable and troublesome reactions. In a way, that’s true: a consequence of Self Mastery is that you get to take back power from the mind and gain control over the automated programs that have been running it. But the full sense of Self Mastery is actually an alchemical process of becoming. Becoming the YOU underneath the unconscious program of beliefs. Learning who you are, what you truly want and what integrity feels like. So that you can create a life that feels truly nourishing to your soul.
In this episode of the Uncover YOU podcast, I talk about what Self Mastery really is – less about mind control and more about the great journey of aligning yourself with integrity.
Listen to episode 21 here:
A summary of what I talk about in this episode:
When you do a quick search on the internet, you will find descriptions of what self mastery might look like: what a person with self-control does and thinks. It makes it seem like these habits and behaviours are what you should be aiming for and that copying them is how you will achieve self mastery.
It doesn’t help that dictionaries define self mastery as self-control.
But this “definition” of gaining control over the automated programs of your mind is actually only a consequence, or ripple effect, of the Self Mastery process, and self-control is very far from how I define what self mastery really is.
Self mastery is not about learning strategies to manage your thoughts and emotions for the rest of your life.
It’s about realizing that there’s a life FREE from your old patterns. It’s about uncovering the origins of your old patterns and changing the underlying beliefs so that you can create the life you want.
The goal you have in mind when you start out is not where you’re going to end up. Because where you end up is way beyond what you had the capacity to imagine when you started out.
In the beginning, the mastery is about awareness, directing your attention, and observing the programs of your mind. Later on, the mastery continues with connecting to your heart, your desires, and yourself as conscious presence, as well as connecting with other superpowers you might not have known you had.
Is there an end goal for self mastery? In a sense – yes. The goal is living from integrity. But integrity is not a fixed place in space and time. Integrity will continually lead you into new growth, and it is an ongoing mastery to live more deeply from integrity.
Integrity is a key that opens the door to a richer way of living. So while I say that integrity is a goal for self mastery, it’s also a beginning of a life in alignment with your soul.
We’ll get back to the topic of integrity in a bit, but first let’s look at the different steps to master along the journey.
The starting point: addressing a symptom
People start this journey because there’s something they want to change. There’s a suffering, a pain that needs to be fixed. That’s the symptom: anything we experience as a problem in our life, that gets in the way of our relationships or our ability to enjoy life.
At first, the mastery will look like managing the symptom – using strategies such as shifting out of an emotion (like anxiety or anger) or thought pattern (like negative self-talk) in order to not feel so much pain. It comes from a need to get the problem in check.
Then, as we move through the self mastery work, we learn to look at the underlying problem – the beliefs driving our thoughts, emotions and behaviours. It’s like going to see a physiotherapist when you have pain in your lower back: the physiotherapist won’t just give you exercises to relieve the pain in your lower back; he/she knows that the whole body is connected and will treat the origin of the pain. Maybe it’s caused by the placement of your foot when you walk, which causes a muscle in your leg to compensate, which triggers a specific movement in your pelvis, which causes your lower back to exert more effort to maintain your balance, and now you have pain. So, we show up thinking that we need to fix our lower back, but the problem actually starts in the foot.
Let’s use the fictional character of Joel as an example. Joel struggles with feelings of anxiety and insecurity. He KNOWS conceptually that he has good ideas, that he has accomplished many things and that he’s worthy, and he does yoga and meditation and reads self-help books to “get better”.
What he doesn’t know is that the program of his mind is what’s directing his actions and his perspectives. This program of the mind is scared of the anxiety and insecurity because of what they might mean about Joel as a person. It sees the emotions as the problem, so it tries to manage them by distracting Joel from them, by avoiding them. The program even tells Joel that he shouldn’t have those emotions and makes him feel really bad for experiencing them in the hope that he will just stop having them.
The problem is that this approach has never worked. As long as Joel’s current belief system is in place, he will only go after the symptoms (the anxiety and insecurity), not the core problem (the underlying belief system), because he’s looking through the lens, the filter of the belief system. And he’s trying to fix the symptoms from a perspective that won’t be able to help, because even the program of his mind is a symptom of the belief system that’s in place.
Step one: Seeing the core problem
As Joel progresses through the self mastery work and it starts pointing his attention at his belief system and bringing up examples of where the beliefs show up, he’ll start seeing that what’s really driving what he thought was the problem is actually something completely different. (It’s not the lower back; it’s the foot.)
This is much bigger than simply identifying a limiting belief – this is when you get to see the entire network of the belief system; all the ways in which the tentacles of your unconscious belief have branched out and are showing up in what you say and see and think and feel. The tentacles are entangled in all areas of your life: in the decisions you make in your career, in the reactions you have in your relationships. The belief system is driving all of that.
The skills you need for mastery at this level:
- Shifting into the observer state in order to observe the belief system
- Sensing your attention as a power you invest, by noticing where it’s at and moving it around at will
- Developing an awareness of your perspective, of the filter you’re looking through
Step two: Addressing the core problem – dismantling your old belief system
Now that we can see the real problem, we get motivated to dismantle the belief system. And we learn the skills to do so.
The skills you need for mastery at this level:
- Shifting into conscious presence with your belief system, emotions and thoughts
- Releasing old emotions that are stored in your body and your energy system
- Effective inventorying and clear seeing of what lies underneath your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours
Step three: Getting to know integrity and creating from there
And then what? Inevitably, as you go through this process, your brain changes. Your awareness and level of consciousness changes. Your priorities and values change. You’re not the same person who set out on the journey. You see the world differently, you see yourself differently, you see your purpose in life differently.
And you realize even more deeply just how extensively your belief system has been in charge of your whole experience of life.
Now that you have woken up and can see beyond the old belief system, you might start discovering new things about yourself and life. Things that you weren’t in touch with before start to become important. Moving your body feels different because now you can actually FEEL, so your experience within it has changed. What comes out of your mouth matters because you recognize the power of words hypnotizing you. Setting boundaries matters because you realize that ultimately you‘re not loving yourself if you let others treat you badly. Learning what you truly want matters because you realize that your desire is a divine force and it’s the main thing you have to navigate from.
So life is no longer what you thought it was. What used to matter may not anymore.
Now you need something new to navigate from. Your old belief system won’t serve you anymore and doesn’t help you in the new experiences you’re having.
If you try to create your new life, your new house, from your mind (which until now has only operated from its old program), you will most likely end up feeling lost because your mind doesn’t have a reference point for what you’re trying to create.
This is when you need to connect with other parts of your being: your heart, consciousness, your wantings and desires. To integrate the shadow with the light, the underworld with your higher self, the unconscious with the super conscious. To merge and balance the feminine and masculine energies within you.
The skills you need for mastery at this level:
- Connecting with yourself beyond your mind
- Opening your heart, relating to others and yourself from your heart
- Welcoming and integrating the shadow
- Re-balancing the feminine and masculine
Then you can start creating your life and relationships from a love-based belief system.
Thousand of paths, but no shortcuts to Mastery…
As with mastering any type of skill, what it comes down to is practice. Mastery is not achieved by reading a bunch and completely GETTING the concept of unconscious beliefs and living a heart-centered life. It’s achieved by taking action and practicing the skills consistently. Enough to have the direct experience of clearly seeing a belief driving your behaviour in the moment, of hearing the lies coming out of your mouth, of feeling your heart opening up, of experiencing yourself as connected to everything.
As I’ve been pointing to – consciousness expands. What you thought you knew when you started won’t matter in your new level of consciousness. To keep letting go and learning anew is part of high level mastery.
To sum it up
Self mastery isn’t about managing your thoughts and emotions anymore.
It’s about realizing that you’re not the stories that are told by your mind and that you’re not the storyteller either.
It’s about taking charge of the storytelling machine and re-calibrating it to tell stories based in love instead of fear and lies.
It’s also about coming into the direct experience of yourself as conscious presence and regaining your personal freedom to create the life you want to live.
As conscious presence, you can reconnect with your soul, your heart and your desire, and dream a new dream into life.
Self mastery is a process of becoming.
Of no longer believing lies about who you are and about the world.
It’s dedication to the biggest masterpiece of all – yourself.
It’s an alchemical process of dissolving the ego and aligning with integrity.
So what exactly IS integrity, you might ask, and how do I know that I’m living from it and not just believing the voices in my head?
Glad you asked.
That’s what we’ll cover in next week’s episode.