The art of self-mastery deals with emotions and the control of these emotions. The catalyst for these emotions is the value which causes a reaction to an event. That is an introduction to self-mastery which we will expand on as we do future entries. We start with three new elements; your values, emotions and events. If you think about events, they are random and largely unpredictable. To start to establish self-mastery, define and understand your values. Once you know who you are you can focus on how you react to events.
Most books on self-mastery start with the idea that behind each person is a set of values or a set of beliefs that will drive their actions. Your values will influence how you are going to conduct your life. The question is, do they work in the real world. Your life is in chaos when you are surrounded by an environment that does not support your values. Every event, big or small, is causing a negative reaction. When you are conflicted you can’t be successful.
If you want to know what your values are just think back to a time when you were really upset. What you are remembering is most likely a time when your values were being violated.
Your values should support a balanced life. Another test of your set of values is to take the five areas of your life (Financial, Relational, Physical, Intellectual and Spiritual) and find out what it takes to address these five areas and how your values apply. These areas must all be addressed but they do not have to be in balance. They must be in harmony. Learning to validate your values means learning to place them in real life situations and start thinking about how strong these values are. Here are some examples:
· I will lead a balanced life with my family. You are asked to stay late at work most nights. You are afraid you will be fired if you do not work long hours. You need the money to pay your bills. Perhaps the solution here is to be more definitive about what your values mean. For example, leading a balanced life with your family may mean that you will carve out time each week that is focused on just family. If you think through this secnario you may also decide that this is not really a value but a policy. With a policy you conditionally apply based on the circumstance.
· I will be respectful of others. You are in the break room and people are gossiping about others at work or expressing anger at people within the firm. Being respectful of others may mean that you will not engage in gossip and you will remove yourself in a polite way from any conversation that is disrespectful.
· I will get satisfaction from my work. I do not like my job but it pays well and I can’t give it up right now. I can’t tell my boss because he will just replace me. When you go around feeling unsettled it is because somewhere something is violating your values. To understand what is going on you have to understand your values not just put words down on the paper. It could be that the business you work for has a conflicting set of values.
As you go about your work, watch the people you work with. Who are the ones you have great respect for? Who are the ones you go the extra mile for? Normally these are people who share your values. When you are at your most joyous, look at what is driving that joy. It is probably a set of circumstances that are supporting you and your beliefs with no inhibitions.