Yes, starting self-mastery has pre-work. Before you try to begin mastering yourself it will be important to take inventory of who, what, and why you currently are. Here are some concepts to consider becoming self-aware of.
“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
1. How do you create belief?
Belief is either created from emotion, thought, or a Higher Power. When you create a belief based on emotions, you leave yourself vulnerable to logic. Additionally, you ensure that your belief will eventually change as emotions are never static. Fluidity of emotion will also become your fluidity of belief. Belief created through thoughts tend to lack empathy and even compassion. It is angular and generates almost forecastable outcomes. Imagine if your entire life was calculable; how do you think you’d feel? How do you think you would make others feel? Belief created from a Higher Power is rooted and immutable. It does not change even when we think or feel differently about it over time. The challenge in belief is determining not what you believe, but what created your belief. If you can begin to answer that question, you may be ready to work towards mastering yourself.
2. What are your principles?
If belief is our truth, then principles are how we prove our truth. These are what the Ancient Egyptians called “immutables”- unchanging over time or unable to be changed. Even more important than belief is how you show up in your belief within yourself and towards others. Principles, are essentially self imposed divine accountability. They are the compass that points you toward or away from "insert challenging and hard to handled noun here". This embedded accountability is what makes living by principles so challenging as you can become too principled or, too accountable ad different points in life. For me, this is the most important of the 5 because it is the one concept that allows or disallows the breadth and depth of the others.
This being my paramount concept of the 5, here are a few books that helped me shape my principals while at the same time, not becoming too accountable to them.
Dr. Na'im Akbar; The Community Of Self (Book)
3. Currently, what do you put before self?
Governing self in relation to others is imperative. In some Eastern cultures/religious constructs Samskaras or sanskaras (Sanskrit: संस्कार) are mental impressions, recollections, or psychological imprints. Basically, that with which we attach ourselves to (good and bad). Defining what you are attached to, can become a tool to use alongside principled-belief to uncover your attachment origins. Once you start attempting to master yourself, defining what you are attached to that will cause you to adjust a principal, your purpose, or a goal you have will be a recurring question you cannot avoid answering. I call it “MINING your own business” because I am always seeking to extract the valuable mineral-level understandings of myself and my attachments. This one can be very tough if you have not already identified where your beliefs come from or what your principles are.
4. What is your Religion?
In the movie 300 King Leonidas asks his army, “what is your profession?”. If you have ever seen this movie, then you know the depth of the answer his men gave in response. When seeking to master self you must follow your religion with the same immutable dedication Leonidas’ men followed. If spirituality is your gifted intimate relationships with the most high(s) then religion is simply the structure you CHOOSE to build that relationship. You can’t choose your spirituality no more than you can choose your parents, but you CAN choose the structure to which you learn, grow and live within that spirituality. What’s more, who you are hits way different when you know WHY and HOW you are.
5. Everything in Moderation, including moderation
A tribe-mate of mine used this concept to ground a group of idealistic mentors during my all time FAVORITE week-long fellowship program. Since then, the power of moderation has never left my cypher. I find it imperative to always be willing to renegotiate my promises based on my purpose or principles. This is the hardest concept I've had to apply and even harder to uphold consistently. Life in modern western society tends to make forward progression and winning the common points of success. The truth (we all know) is that you learn more from your mistakes and failures than you ever do from your successes. So, why is progression and winning coveted over stillness and failure? I believe (higher power) it is because our programmed-belief is more grounded in fear, than in love. Testing and tempering where you incorporate moderation makes accepting the journey of self-mastery much clearer because while the lane may be wide open, it may not mean it is time to accelerate.
The most beautiful part of these 5 concepts is that you are likely involved in each of them already. You have beliefs, you have made principled decisions, you know some of the things you put before yourself, you are familiar with religion, and you have used moderation at some point. Be proud of yourself for this and challenge yourself to focus on whats right in front of you, "do I like where I see myself relative to each concept?" If you are wondering how to determine this, you can use the same questioning exercise from "The Makings of Me, And Maybe, You Too" as a starting point. Simply exchange the truths you wanted to explore deeper for one of the 5 concepts above.
Also, you can always feel encouraged to talk to me ;-)
PEACE & LOVE