We all have dreams, both public and private. These dreams shape our desires and aspirations. However, as life and the “school of hard knocks” progresses, we often set aside those dreams for various reasons.
Society and cultural influences may make us feel selfish for dreaming big, or we may suppress our authentic selves in favor of an “easier way.” Sometimes, the harsh inner critic overtakes us with criticism and doubt, “who do you think you are to dream?”
Conversely, dreams can be the birthplace for growth and transformation. Dreams can be the portal for change and self-mastery. Additionally, developing a robust set of life skills can facilitate the logistics of positive change.
Here are some super simple self-mastery techniques to help uncover our true potential, support self-growth, and the realization of our dreams:
Thomas Paine, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, once said, “I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.”
These words remind us that personal reflection leads to self-growth. And when we face adversity, it’s constructive to ask ourselves powerful open-ended questions like “What has this experience taught me about myself, about life?” allowing us to examine the silver lining of any situation. By doing so, we can overcome challenges by reframing our judgments and perceptions to gain mastery of ourselves.
This demands a level of ordinary bravery to embrace life’s ups and downs while not being derailed by the roller coaster.
In order to thrive and flourish, we must recognize and accept the interconnectedness and interdependence of all things.
As individuals, we may lead independent lives. However, we perform better and can achieve more when we work with others. By working together, we can better problem-solve, create, and attain more success collectively than when working alone. In fact, research shows that good and productive social connection leads to happiness.
The concept of interconnectivity extends beyond individuals to communities in order to achieve purpose-driven goals for the greater good.
By embracing interdependence, we promote the idea of a healthier planet where all species and the ecosystem, including humanity, are interconnected and reliant upon the sum of its parts for existence.
As humans, we are governed by the desire for safety and control of our environments. This false sense of control of our base makes us feel as though we can control all outcomes in our lives.
We cannot control others. We cannot control the weather. We cannot control politics.
The only person we can control is ourselves. We can learn to control our attitudes and our actions. This is a key ingredient of self-mastery.
We can replace the need for control with more constructive universal operating principles for a better life. Positive character strengths such as honesty, vulnerability, forgiveness, inspiration, integrity, empathy, passion, compassion, and authenticity are the calling cards of self-mastery and attributes of self-growth.
The words “good life” and “happiness” mean different things to different people. However, there are aspects of both that most people can agree upon such as being comfortable, enjoying a sense of well-being, engagement in meaningful work and activities with purpose, as well as having loving and connected relationships.
How do we cultivate these principles in service to enhancing self-growth and self-mastery?
Imagine your life as an old-fashioned balance scale. In order to achieve balance in the middle, both sides must be weighted equally.
Work on improving balance in the four main domains of life: mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical. Actively engage in activities and practices that strengthen wellness in these areas. Proactive lifestyle management will support self-growth, self-mastery, and yield higher life-satisfaction.
Focus on letting go of thoughts, judgments, and behaviors that do not positively serve the highest good.
Identify aspects of life that feel as though they need to be controlled, and replace that need with letting go by practicing positive actions and attitudes towards the self and others. This will create a more measured reaction to life on life’s terms.
Practice present awareness by journaling your daily feelings and interests. Learn to live more fully in this moment rather than regretting the past or worrying about the future.
Express past regrets and future fears, then symbolically let them go by safely burning or immersing them in water. Creating a ritual to help “let go” of unwanted and unnecessary stressors to help create stability and balance here and now.
Create reminders to prevent ruminating in the past or future-fantasizing. Post a favorite affirmation, quote, or image in a visible place that will serve as a regular reminder of the empowered person we wish to be.
Regular exercise helps physical and mental health. Engaging in physical activities, even short bursts of 20-minutes, can help relieve stress, improve physical fitness, boost mood, and improve our sense of overall well-being.
Exercise can help us connect with our bodies, ground ourselves in the present, and connect with others socially. If the gym isn’t your scene or available, get outside and move! Movement comes in many forms–from gardening to yoga–from walking to dancing–from swimming to cycling.
A healthy body supports a healthy mind. And a healthy mind and body help to boost self-mastery and self-control.
Self-mastery is a lifelong journey that involves personal accountability and responsibility of thoughts, feelings, and actions. By following these suggested steps, personal growth can be fostered and life skills will be enhanced. By embracing bravery, interconnectivity, and letting go of non-essential control, we can be more free and available to pursue our dreams.
Lisa Cypers Kamen is a lifestyle management consultant who explores the art and science of happiness in her work as a speaker, author, and happiness expert. Through her globally syndicated positive psychology podcast, books, media appearances, and documentary film, Kamen has impacted millions of people around the world.
Our communications do not constitute mental health treatment nor is it indicative of a private therapeutic relationship.
Individuals seeking help for trauma related issues or other psychological concerns should seek out a mental health professional.
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