True mastery

“The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery – not over nature – but of ourselves.” –Rachel Carson, environmentalist

What is mastery over ourselves? What could that look like?

Ultimately our intent, thoughts, words, actions and responses are the only things that we can control and master. These all involve choice and our own freewill.  It’s the awareness that every moment involves a choice—whether it be on the automatic, unconscious level or with awareness and mastery.

The awareness of those choices in the moments that make up our lives involves a discipline of mind.  Sound like a lot of work?  It is—at first. But that discipline of mind becomes easier and easier, and it is SO worth it!

How is it worth it?  A simple example is when I make a conscious choice to change a thought or a behavior. Maybe it’s a thought that really doesn’t serve any purpose other than making me feel down or defeated. By changing that one thought that has been floating around in my mind all day to one that is more uplifting, I can change the course of my day.

We can also change the world around us by changing that one thought.

Have you ever been around someone who is being critical or negative about almost everything?  It has an effect on those who have contact with them.  The same is true for those who are hopeful, empowered and are taking action that is consistent with hope and empowerment. They draw people to them in a good way like a magnet.

Another example of that mastery is when we look at and consider the effects a choice we make will have on others before it is made. Does insisting that it be our way make us blind to the needs of others?  How many times in the past several years have we seen on a national and global scale the effects of choices that were made (that first started with an individual making a choice or an individual pushing that agenda) that do damage to others?

Masters are everywhere, in all walks of life.  A master can be the person who sees her/his life as a service.  I see mastery in a janitor I know who always has a cheerful greeting and is truly joyful in doing what some people would consider a menial task. Mastery is in the person in the parking garage booth, who recently when I asked “how are you?”  answered with, “I’m blessed!  I have a job where all day long I can greet people and wish them a good evening. What could be better than that?”

I’m humbled by that kind of self mastery.

Mastery is not perfection. Masters make mistakes, and they do encounter difficulties.  Mastery can be working in a process of knowing there’s always more to know. Mastery can be about getting back up again after a fall or mistake, claiming it, apologizing for it (if it affected others), learning from it, dusting oneself off, and moving forward again.

© Mary Claire O’Neal

Mary Claire O’Neal is a communication consultant, speaker, coach and author of the award-winning book, Becoming What You Want to See in the World. For more information:


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