Self-Mastery: Rest, Recharging, Relaxing

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Part of self-mastery is taking care of yourself–your physicality. You need mental, emotional, and physical strength and wherewithal to master yourself. If you are tired and stressed, you’re more apt to take the easy way and knuckle under to your habits.

 

Rest

~Are you getting enough hours of sleep or are you skimping in favor of working later or sitting up at night worrying?

~Is you sleep restful or are you too tense to fully relax into a peaceful sleep?

~Is your sleep restorative or do you wake frequently throughout the night, even if just for a moment?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, take the time to pinpoint what’s going on so you can determine how best to help yourself. Research has shown that sleep is critical to your ongoing health and well-being and skimping on it or having poor quality sleep is very damaging, especially over the long term.

When checking in with yourself, perhaps you discover worry, sadness, or frustrations are bothering you. Ask yourself what you can do to release these so you can get a restful, restorative night’s sleep.

Some suggestions are:

~meditate/pray and connect with God/Source. It’s also great to pray/meditate with someone else because they may be able to pray in a way that your worried, agitated state is preventing you from doing.

~listen to soothing, calming music such as Brahms’ Lullaby, Pachebel’s Canon in D, Satie’s Trois Geyumnopedies, Debussy’s Clair de Lune.

~read uplifting, hopeful passages from inspirational or faith-based writings

~take a warm bath before bedtime.

~Improving your sleep can be something as simple as getting a new pillow, changing the orientation of your bed, opening a window for cool fresh air, adding a light covering so you’re warm enough. Also try changing the style of your pajamas, for instance if you’ve always worn a nightgown, perhaps changing to a pajama set of pants with a matching top.

 

Recharging

When you check in with yourself, pay attention to your nutritional habits–what are they?

~Are you eating high quality, nutritious food or do you reach for what’s handy and quick?

~Are you sitting down to have your meals or are you eating on the go?

~Do you focus on enjoying and savoring your food or do you eat at your desk or while watching TV and just shovel in the food, not paying attention to what you’re eating?

~Do you take a moment to make your food attractive and appetizing or do you eat on paper plates or out of the take-out cartons?

~Do you eat in messy or dirty surroundings?

Some suggestions are:

When reviewing your eating and nutrition habits, you might identify areas where you aren’t properly nurturing yourself. The two biggest things you can do to help yourself in this area are (1) to step away from the junk food, prepared foods, convenience foods, and foods high in sugar and preservatives. Instead buy food that is natural and organic. Yes, these foods cost more right now, but the payoff in the future is immense.

Don’t economize on the quality of your food!

(2) When you eat, step away from your desk, turn off the TV, put away all electronics, and concentrate on your meal. Notice the aroma, the texture, the flavors. Eat sitting down in calm and clean surroundings and use real plates and real flatware.

Take your time and savor each mouthful!

 

Relaxing

~Are you in the rut of sleep-eat-work-sleep-eat-work?

~When was the last time you did something for fun?

~How long has it been since you took time off and just hung out with nothing more to do but relax?

~Have you taken time to enjoy your hobbies?

~Do you regularly spend time with your friends and loved ones?

~Have you developed a regular meditation/contemplation/quiet time practice?

You may feel awkward or guilty getting away from your routine, taking a break and giving yourself breathing room. This is an important part of self-mastery. You can’t get a handle on yourself if you are burned out, a slave to your routines, stuck in a rut, or fed up.

Perhaps your situation right now is such that you don’t have the time or the finances to actually get away, but you can do simple things that will refresh you.

Some suggestions are:

~choose TV programs that are interesting or educational, such as those found on PBS and the science channels–turn off reality TV!

~read a good book–fiction or non-fiction;

~take the scenic route back and forth to work instead of sitting in rush hour traffic;

~pack a picnic lunch and enjoy it in a local park;

~play with your kids, spend time with your spouse or partner; invite friends over for a potluck dinner and a movie.

 

Incorporate some of these suggestions into your life a little at a time–you don’t have to do these all at once! As you do this, over time you will find you’ll become more in control of yourself and your life.

You can do it!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

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Self-Mastery: Actions

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You want to craft a soul-prospering life: Are you pleased with your progress? Ask yourself: what actions am I taking; what actions am I avoiding?

Then ask yourself: Why?

What are your excuses, your reasons, your justifications? What emotions are driving these (we talked about mastery over our emotions yesterday)? Have you paused to uncover the thought patterns driving your emotions (we talked about mastery over our thoughts on Monday)?

Once you have a clear understanding of why you are or are not taking action toward crafting a soul-prospering life, you can do something about it–you can take command rather than being bullied about by circumstances and your moods.

It doesn’t take long to check in with yourself and to get back to manning the controls of your life!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Self-Mastery: Emotions

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Yesterday we talked about self-mastery in relation to our thoughts. Another aspect of self-mastery is getting a handle on our emotions.

Most of the time, we are ruled by our emotions. For instance, we awake in the morning feeling tired and glum and this casts a pall over our whole day; we receive an unexpected pleasant note from a friend, and this buoys us during the difficult circumstances we encounter in our day.

We can be–and should be–informed by our emotions, but our goal is to remain in control. I don’t mean that we don’t feel or express our emotions or that we even them out to a monotone, but rather we acknowledge what we’re feeling–that we’re sad or worried– but we don’t get carried away by them. We listen to them for their wisdom but we don’t allow them to waylay us in the pursuit of our soul-prospering life.

As an example, instead of allowing anxiety to ramp up into a full-blown attack, effectively stopping us in our tracks, we can observe that we’re worried or tense or apprehensive and pause a moment to assess what the trigger is for this. We can ask ourselves what is going on around us–what’s our perception of our circumstances–and what thoughts are we thinking regarding this.

Once we have identified our thought pattern, then we can take back control. We can choose to feel the emotion, such as allowing ourselves to experience being fearful or worried, or we can acknowledge the emotion but insist upon moving forward: recognizing that we’re afraid to step out of our comfort zone but we’re going to take a small step anyway.

This pause doesn’t have to be for hours on end. It can be a matter of a minute or two of checking in with ourselves to determine what we’re feeling, what caused us to feel this way, and what thought patterns might be at the core of these feelings.

For instance, I went through a phase where I was unusually tense and apprehensive. A few minutes of reflection helped me pinpoint a thought pattern of this will be a disaster. I realized a difficult situation at work was triggering this thought pattern.

Once I had this information, I was able to prepare myself by closely looking at the statement this will be a disaster and determining the truth of it. I found I was thinking of this situation as being a disaster because I felt so helpless. When I thought it through, I realized that while a large share of the situation remained out of my control, there was a small portion that I could directly influence. This is where I focused my efforts.

Another aspect of thinking that the situation would be a total disaster stemmed from my worry that I wouldn’t always know what to do, how best to handle particular instances as they came up. I reminded myself that I had a wise friend who I could turn to for advice, which I did as I worked my way through the challenging situation.

Because I understood the context of my emotions, I was able to use what they were telling me and move through the challenging situation without being destroyed by it.

The next time you’re in the throes of strong emotions, take a moment to examine what you’re feeling, how and why you came to feel it, and, in light of this feeling, how can you use it to help you move into your soul-prospering life.

You can do it!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Self-Mastery: Thoughts

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At the very bottom of the foundation of our lives are our thoughts–whether they uplift us or discourage us. For this reason, the very first thing we must master if we are to live soul-prospering lives is our thought pattern.

We know this requires mindfulness and we also understand that it involves being positive and optimistic.

But what about the days when it isn’t possible to do this, what do we do then? Perhaps we had a difficult day at work and, to top it off, we had to stay late. Or maybe we’re handling challenging situations in our personal life. It just might be, though, that we’ve been working on moving toward our soul-prospering lives but the progress is tiny, and now we’re plain old discouraged. During times like these, we just don’t have the wherewithal to monitor all our thoughts and when we try to be positive, it feels like we’re being incredibly naïve and foolish.

Mindfulness doesn’t mean ferreting out and hearing every tidbit of a thought that we have and then measuring each one with some sort of positivity scale. It would be an impossible task and, most likely, we’d drive ourselves batty if we tried it.

Also, it isn’t reasonable to expect that every thought is going to be positive. We’re allowed to be discouraged, sad, angry, worried, and the like. Feeling our emotions is what make us human and is what adds depth and richness to our experiences. “Negative” emotions are “bad” only when we find ourselves wallowing in them or when they are the only emotional responses we have.

To get a handle on our thoughts, schedule time to learn what triggers negative thoughts in us. For instance, we know when we’re with certain people we tend to become easily annoyed, or when we’re called on to give a presentation we know we become tense, nervous, and worried. We may discover that when we’re faced with an unfamiliar task, whether in our professional capacity or in our personal lives, we find ourselves thinking I can’t or it’s too hard.

As I said, it’s okay if we find ourselves responding in a knee-jerk fashion with the thoughts we’re accustomed to thinking. As we work with mindfulness and adding more uplifting thoughts into our thought patterns, we’ll lessen these habitual responses.

When we identify our triggers, prepare phrases and words ahead of time that, when you need them, they are handy.

Don’t stress over making these phrases and words positive. Instead, strive to make them as uplifting as possible. They’ll ring truer and be more believable, especially when the circumstances are particularly difficult.

Here are some thoughts that uplifted me when I felt foolish using positive statements:

~I’ll figure it out somehow. I don’t need all the answers right now; I just need one bit of information at a time;

~I only need to take one tiny little step–just do what seems to be the next best thing;

~I can call or I can ask my mentor/friend/librarian/colleague;

~Right here, right now, I am okay;

~Universe, I put this in Your Hands to work out because I have no clue what to do next. Show me what I need to do and make it very clear!

~Universe, I have no idea how You’re going to work this out because it seems impossible to me. I trust that You have it all figured out and that You’ll let me know when it’s my turn to do what I can.

 

Let me know if any of these helped you. Also, let me know what uplifting thoughts you use. Thanks!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Self Mastery: The True Source of Willpower – A Baker’s Dozen of Inspiring Quotes

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This week we’ll be talking about self-mastery, the true source of willpower, and the solid foundation upon which all lasting change is built.

Here are a baker’s dozen–thirteen–quotes to contemplate today. Jot down the ones that ring true to you and keep them handy. Throughout your week, read them often, think about them deeply, and do your best to apply their wise counsel.

You CAN do it; I’m so sure of it!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,
Lauren

PS Let me know which quotation(s) resonated with you!

 

 

We each have only one life to live. How terrible it would be to come to the end of your life and realize you did not live up to your fullest God-given potential. — Garold N. Larson

My will shall shape my future. Whether I fail or succeed shall be no man’s doing but my own. I am the force; I can clear any obstacle before me or I can be lost in the maze. My choice; my responsibility; win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny. — Elaine Maxwell

It seems to me that the term ‘free will’ is one of the most manipulated and exploited terms. The real explanation of free will is not that you have free will but that your will can eventually make you free, that will can liberate you, that will can release you from slavery. — Torkom Saraydarian

The cyclone derives its powers from a calm center. So does a person. — Norman Vincent Peale

Who contains himself goes seldom wrong. — Confucious

It will hurt. It will take time. It will require dedication. It will require willpower. You will need to make healthy decisions. It requires sacrifice. You will need to push your body to its max. There will be temptation. But, I promise you, when you reach your goal, it’s worth it. — Unknown

A man who governs his passions is a master of the world. We must either command them, or be enslaved by them. It is better to be a hammer than an anvil. — St. Dominic

I am, indeed, a king, because I know how to rule myself. — Pietro Aretino

Being a warrior is not about the act of fighting, it’s about being so prepared to face a challenge and believing so strongly in a cause that you are fighting for that you refuse to quit. — Richard J. Machowicz

Freedom is born of self-discipline. No individual, no nation, can achieve or maintain liberty without self-control. The undisciplined man is a slave to his own weaknesses. — Alan Valentine

Be master OF mind rather than mastered BY mind — Zen Saying

The height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure, by his self-abandonment. There is no other limitation in either direction. And this law is the expression of eternal justice. He who cannot establish a dominion over himself will have no dominion over others. He who masters himself shall be king. — Unknown

A man has to learn that he cannot command things, but that he can command himself; that he cannot coerce the wills of others, but that he can mold and master his own will: and things serve him who serves Truth; people seek guidance of him who is master of himself. — James Allen

Your Own Two Feet: Because You CAN do it!

 

Stand on your own two feet because you are valuable;

Stand on your own two feet because you matter;

Stand on your own two feet because the world needs your unique view of Life;

Stand on your own two feet because there are people in the world who you may not know and whom you may never meet who are in desperate need of what you have to offer–the whisperings of your heart and the urgings of your soul;

Stand on your own two feet because if you don’t this world will be that much colder, darker, monochromatic, and that much less hopeful;

Stand on your own two feet because you DO have what it takes and you CAN figure it out.

Stand on your own two feet because you CAN do it!

I believe in you!

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren

Your Own Two Feet: The One Most Important Factor

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The surest, sure-fire way to stand on your own two feet is to be unshakable and rock-solid in your core life values–knowing and understand which ones are deeply meaningful to you. Equally important is knowing and understanding why these are so significant to you.

These are not necessarily exactly like the morals and values your Sunday school teacher or parents or coaches tried to instill in you. Your life values may have their roots in the teachings you received as a child but as you matured into an adult, you tweaked them and put your own unique spin on them.

What kind of a spin have you put on them?

Do you profess to be honest and truthful yet you cut corners at work? Do you claim to be a champion of the underdog yet you pretend not to see when you witness a friend bullying someone, especially when they justify it by saying they’re just joking and the other person has a thin skin?

It’s time to thoroughly check out your moral and ethical compass and make sure it’s pointing unerringly at your True North.

Your Friend and Pep Pal,

Lauren