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SELF-MASTERY

Self-mastery is the ability to be in charge of your own life and decide your own course of action. A dynamic component of the MNSTR Method that helps with building mental strength, learning essential skills, and leveling up your awareness through daily challenges. We all have an intrinsic motivation toward growth at any age... "In some adults, we find curious individuals who remain committed to developing their brains and bodies, forging new skills for both work and play.' (Scott Jeffrey). Self-mastery is also about training your mind + body to deal with daily discomfort, the inevitable adversities in life, and build greater self-confidence by pushing you outside your comfort zone (also as seen in self-reliance).  To be the Master of your own self is to fully understand who you really are, it means taking full responsibility for your own life... this accountability can be liberating as you are able to direct your life and thoughts the way you want them, the choices are yours. It's an internal and self-directed journey, whose progress only you can determine. It involves developing some essential skills in the areas of self-awareness, self-discipline, personal development, emotional intelligence, and mental health management.  Devoting your time to developing these skills could help ease you out of the cycle of rumination, worrying about the future, a depressive state, or whatever it is that makes you feel 'stuck' in a certain mental state... bringing you to the present through focus and also empowering you from the acquired knowledge. 

  

From my experience, I have felt powerless and stuck in situations that felt like it was completely out of my hands which were most of my childhood and as a young adult, particularly at a time when I was in my early 20s in the thick of the chronic illness lifestyle living alone for the first time in my life (Singapore), and unable to find a permanent job. After feeling helpless for so long, I decided to seek ways to improve my situation, which led me to the self-mastery path and it was the only way that anything would change. I got healthy eventually on my own terms without the help of doctors or medications, kept persisting on freelance jobs while building new skills, and made Singapore my home by being truly open to new connections.  Self-mastery takes a lot of effort but it's incredibly worth it.

The key to gaining mastery in anything is practice; the more you practice, the more proficient you become. Practice not only describes what you do but also implies regularity. There can be no mastery without practice and dedication... this is true for anything you do in life, including your skating practice, meditation, managing your mental health, and the pursuit of self-improvement. By becoming a master of all the different areas of life itself, you would ultimately gain Self-Mastery. In the second half of the page, I've compiled a series of self-mastery practices that I practice daily, sometimes I can't do them all in a day, but it helps to be specific in your plans (time + place) to make them part of your daily routine so that you stay consistent with them.  But before I get into those practices, please check out the benefits of why building your self-mastery practice is so great for your mental health.
 

MENTAL HEALTH BENEFITS OF BUILDING SELF-MASTERY

Mastery is so beneficial that it’s used in therapy, it's a skill used in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) to improve self-esteem + confidence, both of which are incredibly important for our mental health. It can even be used to treat depression.  Self-mastery practices greatly contribute to your self-reliance mindset and also the following:

 

  1. BOOSTS YOUR MOOD
    Building mastery in a skill you want to develop is a great mood booster. It’s incredibly rewarding to see your progress. You’re doing something you enjoy – and you’re getting better at it. It’s a win-win and provides positive reinforcement to keep you going. 

     

  2. LOWERS STRESS
    When feeling stressed or overwhelmed, carving out some time to do something you enjoy is a way to de-stress. However busy you are, it’s important to set aside some quality time for yourself. Working on mastering a skill is a great option. This is also part of self-care.

     

  3. GREATER CONFIDENCE + SELF ESTEEM
    As you see yourself make progress and improve in a skill, you develop self-confidence and self-reliance. Even small, slow, incremental progress counts. If you lack confidence you may not even bother trying – which means you’ll never reach your goal. The key is to start small and work towards achievable steps. When you feel competent at something, you have a more positive view of yourself. It builds that trust in yourself, your body, and your capabilities.

     

  4. INCREASED CONCENTRATION
    Losing yourself in a task – paying deep and full attention to it – is great for developing your attention span, focus, and mental health. It will help you focus on the present and not be distracted by troubles and anxieties. You may also enter a ‘flow state’ – a rewarding sense of total involvement in a task. Learn more about Flow State.

     

  5. REDUCED ANXIETY
    People who experience anxiety daily may have low self-esteem, low confidence, and poor concentration. Because self-mastery practices help increase all of these, it helps to reduce your anxiety levels.

     

  6. GREATER RESILIENCE
    Because mastery helps you build self-esteem and confidence, you’ll also be more resilient. When adversities happen, or things don’t go the way you’d hoped, you’ll be better able to cope. You'll have positive ways to manage your emotions + thoughts.

     

  7. COMMUNITY AND SOCIAL SUPPORT
    You may choose a solitary activity, but there are also many group activities you might want to take up, from sports to evening classes to hobby groups. These may be face-to-face or online. Either way, they can provide social support, motivation, and accountability – all of which will help you towards achieving mastery. As a skater, you would already experience this benefit greatly
     within the skateboarding community.

    *THE BENEFITS ABOVE ARE AN EXCERPT FROM AN ARTICLE ON MYONLINETHERAPY.COM. (LINK FOUND IN SOURCES BELOW)

Here are some of my self-mastery practices... you may have already seen a number of them listed on the MNSTR Method page:

JOURNALING

This practice helped me build my self-awareness the most. Acknowledging my thoughts + emotions, reviewing my day objectively as much as possible so that I'm able to address certain things in my day that either bothered or impacted me positively. It's a great practice for self-mastery as you will learn how to figure things out for yourself in whatever areas of your life. Freeform writing is a straightforward way to do a 'brain dump' which is the style of journaling that I want and need to do daily, here you don't have to worry about censoring or correcting your writing, just write for yourself and review the entry afterward for reflection. It's a practice that gives you clarity like no other by making you better acquainted with yourself and  getting thoughts out of your head and onto a document. See more details on the JOURNALING page.

MEDITATION

This practice can also be found in self-care, It's under self-mastery because it helps to train your mind for focus and keeping present yet having an open awareness of your environment. Meditation is not about sitting still in a quiet environment, it's about being steady and present wherever you may be or what you are doing despite the busyness of your environment. It has helped to hone my focus in my skate sessions to get me out of my hypervigilance mode when I'm out skating solo. Focus meditations are extremely helpful with this, training your mind to let thoughts/emotions/distractions like sounds and other sensory fades into the background and stay present.  See more details and some guided meditation links on the MEDITATION page.

INTERMITTENT FASTING
You can be a master of your impulses through this excellent willpower training in the practice of intermittent fasting. I Fast for at least 12hrs or more after the last bite at dinner and I sleep for more than half of the fast. There are so many mental and physical benefits to this practice. I started this for a couple of reasons, to break my addiction to food for comfort and I had chronic inflammation because of a combination of my body's sensitivity due to lupus and the physical effects of my C-PTSD. After a few months of practice, I experienced the benefits both mentally and physically.  The practice allows your gut to rest properly over a prolonged period... with no digestion taking place close to bedtime, the body does its job to optimally repair the body and brain overnight while giving you a truly good night's rest. It helps to improve brain health by increasing BDNF (Brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a protein in your brain that helps produce new nerve cells to fight brain aging and contributes to neuroplasticity. Intermittent fasting is fairly new but the concept of fasting has been used therapeutically since the 5th century bce, when Greek physician Hippocrates recommended abstinence from food or drink for patients who exhibited certain symptoms of illness (Brittanica).  More about IF in this article share which convinced me to start this practice.

HYDROTHERAPY
While this can mean warm or cold water exposure, I've used cold showers specifically in the mornings. Cold showers are any showers with a water temperature below 21°C/70°F, cold water sends many electrical impulses to your brain. It jolts your system to increase alertness, clarity, and energy levels while endorphins (which are sometimes called happiness hormones) are also released. It also improves your blood circulation and helps to push you out of your comfort zone. As a result, our bodies become more resistant to stress which makes your mind more resilient. Water therapy/Hydrotherapy has been used for centuries to take advantage of our body’s tendency to adapt to harsher conditions, I started this practice in the fall of 2021 and did it through the cold winter... I used to have poor circulation and would feel cold often. After a while, I noticed that I'm not affected by the cold anymore and it helped to build my mental strength. It's a pretty solid routine and I've not gone a day without it since I started. Taking a cold shower for 3-5 minutes, 2-3 times per week, was shown to help relieve symptoms of depression in a clinical trial. Give it a try to see where your limits are and with regularity, I hope that you will experience some benefits like I did. Here are some more details in this article.
 

PHYSICAL EXERTION/EXERCISE
There are many benefits to exercise and some of the benefits involve an improvement in our mental health a mood booster, a decrease in feelings of stress, better sleep, and much more (Also part of Self-care). The activities could be something that you enjoy like trekking, cycling, yoga, football… whatever that may be as long as it's something that gets your heart rate up and try to be outside when possible.  Your body releases endorphins when you're doing physical activities...endorphins help relieve pain, reduce stress, and improve your sense of well-being. The physical activities I do are High-intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workouts in the morning, skating, nature walks, and skate-specific workouts that I've found on The Daily Push. Conditioning your body helps you to make you be more physically capable, feel stronger, and improve your coordination which in turn makes you feel more sure of yourself mentally as well. I find that when I have days where I'm unable to exercise or skate, and my mind doesn't feel great. I'm quite dependent on physical movement to manage my mental health well.

EATING WELL
To have a higher awareness of what type of how different types of food make your body feel afterward, raising that awareness makes you more attuned to your body and mind. For me, eating the right foods are nourishing and can be medicinal, it's a long-term commitment to eating well and being informed on the right nutritional information without depriving yourself of the pleasure of eating. I eat healthily about 85% of the time and don't restrict myself from having treats, I just don't crave them as much as I used to as I broke my food addiction with Intermittent fasting. I have some guidelines like trying to eat anti-inflammatory foods that won't aggravate my body as I have a history of lupus and healing from my PMDD where what I eat affects greatly on how I feel. I eat whole foods as much as I can, minimally processed foods/fast food, and vegetables/power foods with every meal.  I proactively learn about nutrition and cooking so that I'm able to take care of myself and my family well. It's all about balance and just having food and drinks in moderation, having too much of anything would make anyone feel sick. This is one self-mastery practice that I practice diligently.

LEARNING + PRACTISING PHILOSOPHY

This self-mastery practice has made a big difference for me. Finding philosophies that I can apply to my life helped me have more self-control over my emotions + impulses, reframe my mindset, and learn new perspectives through daily practice. There are some philosophies that have resonated with me such as Stoicism, the philosophies of Friedrich Nietzsche, and Miyamoto Musashi. See more about my thoughts on philosophy and learning on the SEEKING KNOWLEDGE page. Would love to hear what philosophy you are into, drop me a line.
 

ONE CHALLENGE A DAY
Doing one thing a day pushes me out of my comfort zone. This can be figured out through the journaling practice or you can take notes separately, whatever works for you... where you can figure out the things that make you feel uncomfortable or something that you fear. Note it down with no judgment as it is for your eyes only, and see which ones you can work on to make yourself more comfortable with it or to remove the fear. I learned about exposure therapy early on in my mental health journey, about confronting my discomfort/fear little by little and working up to it. For example, I was afraid of spiders but for no apparent reason (a learned fear from my mother) I got myself to observe the creatures closer and learned more about them, the knowledge gained is more understanding that they are not just useless creepy arachnids and eventually found beauty in the species (and their webs). The fear was removed. The challenge can be anything, doesn't have to be fear-based... just do something different that's out of your comfort zone and see how you feel mentally during and afterward, a great topic for your journaling session.

EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING TASKS + SELF-REGULATION

These are mental processes that enable us to plan, focus attention, remember instructions, and juggle multiple tasks successfully. The brain needs this skill set to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve goals, and control impulses. Executive function and self-regulation skills depend on three types of brain function: working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. These functions are highly interrelated, and the successful application of executive function skills requires them to operate in coordination with each other. This exercises your capability to manage your life with a working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control. Organizing your life with to-do lists (priority lists), using the calendar app to work for you, setting short-term + long-term goals for different areas of your life, etc. All of these need your attention and awareness. Exploring different ways to cope/soothe yourself is a part of self-regulation. Learn more about it in this LINK.

I hope you found some of these suggestions useful for you to implement into your day, feel free to cherry-pick the above and encourage you to add some other self-mastery practices into your life. Would love to hear your thoughts on what self-mastery practices you are already doing, drop me a line.
 

HOW TO BUILD MASTERY STEP BY STEP

Set yourself a challenge that’s based on your capabilities right now. You can gradually make it more challenging over time.
 

  1. PLAN FOR SUCCESS
    Choose something challenging but possible. This will help you succeed rather than set yourself up for failure.
     

  2. START SMALL
    If you want to take up running, for example, don’t start with a marathon... start small (maybe a light jog around the block) and focus on achievable steps rather than your final goal.

     

  3. INCREASE GRADUALLY
    Gradual, steady progress is key. Start with the doable and move on to the more difficult.

     

  4. DO SOMETHING EVERY DAY
    Building mastery is about doing small, challenging things on a regular basis. Do one thing each day that makes you feel good about yourself – even if it’s for just 10 minutes. Think about how you can work mastery into your daily routine.

     

  5. REWARD YOURSELF ALONG THE WAY 
    Seeing your progress will be motivating. But find a way to reward yourself for those milestones along the way too. Taking the time to acknowledge your achievements (for example: in your journaling session) is just as important as the achievement itself.

Those are my thoughts on self-mastery, thanks for making it down this far in reading this page on Self-mastery, I know that I've put more information on this page than the other pages but it's an important component of MMMHM and just want to note the details.  If you have any thoughts or questions about this page, feel free to CONTACT me with the subject line: Self-Mastery.

SOURCES:
Ayalet Pe'er, Michelle Slone, Flora Mor, BMC Psychiatry website<https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-022-04087-8>

*My Online Therapy website, How to build mastery to boost your mental health,  Dec 31 2021, <https://myonlinetherapy.com/how-to-build-mastery-to-boost-your-mental-health>

Jeffrey, Scott The Path to Self-mastery <https://scottjeffrey.com/self-mastery>

The Nietzsche Self Help Experiment website, Oct 21 2018 <https://www.nietzscheselfhelp.com/single-post/2018/10/23/nietzschean-self-mastery-part-3>

Executive Function & Self Regulation, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard Uni website<https://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/key-concepts/executive-function>

How does Cold Therapy work for depression? Ice Barrel Website, <https://icebarrel.com/blog/how-does-cold-therapy-work-for-depression>

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