There is often a certain mystique that surrounds the concept of mastery. We speak in awe of famous masters — people who attained a superior command of a field or subject, and who advanced human understanding of what is possible in that domain because they redefined or transformed it in some important way. We have respect for these individuals because their contributions made an impact on human civilization. They made a difference.
So, why is self-care mastery important? Surely it is not as significant as mastering noble fields like art, music, or science! What difference does it make to master ourselves?
Leonardi da Vinci - that great master of art - said: "One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself." Self-mastery is fundamental to living our best lives. As we master ourselves, we nurture our gifts and talents, expressing our vitality and full human potential. When we each realize our unique potential, everyone benefits.
So, how do you become a master of your self-care? In my experience there are five key ingredients:
1) Commitment — For you to develop self-care mastery, you must want to do it and decide that you will. You have to believe that it is important and choose to invest your time and energy in developing yourself in this way. Robert Greene, in his book Mastery, makes the point that mastery is a function of desire and time. Self-care mastery is something everyone can attain, but first you must commit to it.
2) Courage - Self-care mastery requires a willingness to look at yourself with honesty and concern and to say what is true for you. Your needs and dreams are unique, and your path to self-care mastery will be too. Having the courage to seek and speak your truth is a core component of building your self-care muscle.
3) Confidence - Undertaking a path of self-care mastery is an ongoing journey. The journey will present opportunities for growth and development. Not all of them will be comfortable — but all of them will be valuable if you have confidence in the process and allow yourself to glean wisdom from your experiences. Confidence that you are heading in the right direction, and that your investments will produce benefits will help you to stay the course successfully.
4) Curiosity - As you continue your journey to self-care mastery, it is essential that you maintain a sense of wonder and curiosity. When you think you "know" something, you limit what you can learn. Staying open to new learnings creates opportunities for you to deepen your awareness, engage your creativity, and fuel your innovation — all of which advance your mastery.
5) Compassion - Personal growth and development can challenge your understanding of yourself and make you susceptible to frustration or self-judgement. You may forget that the purpose of your journey is the experience itself and who you are becoming as you confront and overcome challenges. George Leonard said it well: "We fail to realize that mastery is not about perfection. It's about a process, a journey. The master is the one who stays on the path day after day, year after year. The master is the one who is willing to try, and fail, and try again, for as long as he or she lives." As you travel, please remember to be compassionate with yourself, and allow yourself to embrace your humanity and imperfections. Treat yourself with the same compassion that you would any dear friend.
What about you? As you consider your own journey towards self-care mastery, what qualities have been most essential? Please comment below and share what you've learned!