Conquer Self

life is one big mind game, if we can win the battle over self we win at life. Our state of mind determines our outcomes, all our speech, feelings and actions begin with thought. To take control of your thought process is to take control of yourself. Like all things worthwhile doing, learning to take control in this way takes practice and work overtime, to develop the skill will require ongoing effort.

Too often we allow our feelings to steer the ship. For me, anger has caused so many problems throughout my life and like many people do, for a long time I believed that our emotions are just something that we have no control over. If someone pissed me off, it was just a natural reaction to something they had said or done. However, this is not the case at all.

How we react to any external factor is entirely within our control. I struggled with this concept at first believing how I felt was a naturally occurring response, regardless of the emotion I was experiencing. Whether that was anger, outrage, jealousy even anxiety.

For example, if you and I were to be approached by someone who insulted the both of us in some way, let’s say for arguments sake this person called us a pair fuckwits. I may respond angrily having been insulted by the comment, whereas you may laugh it off unaffected by the opinion of a stranger. The same comment has affected us both differently. Therefore, the problem doesn’t lie in the comment itself or the person delivering it. The problem lies with the person receiving it, in this instance with me. You however, have no problem because you are unaffected, you have made a choice not to allow the comment to offend you. Being offended, feeling anger at the comment and any reaction to It, is a choice I’ve made whether I realise it or not.

One reason we find it difficult to accept this concept is that it requires taking ownership for behaviour that we would otherwise justify as a reflex response that we have no control over. How many times have you had someone apologise to you after making a hurtful comment followed by “I didn’t mean what I said, I was just angry”? or perhaps you have made the same justification yourself. I have many times over.

By refusing to accept that we have control over our thought process and therefore our emotions, it allows us to make excuses for our emotional outbursts. Now we can avoid having to take ownership for the behaviour as though we are off the hook. It also allows us to avoid having to do the hard work it’s going to take to wrestle back control from our runaway minds.

Anxiety seems to be reaching pandemic levels in society. Never before have we been more stressed with worry. Its seems so many of us get stuck in this flight/fight response state of mind, having lost any ability to take control of our thoughts. Taking back control is possible for those willing to do the work, however most are not preferring to mask the symptoms with medication or worse still, self-medicate with other substances rather than tackle the root cause of the problem.

Just being aware that control is possible is a good start. Many will never come to this realisation and even then for those that do, it will be a minority who are willing to commit to doing the work to improve themselves. The greatest battle you will ever fight will be within yourself, it will be harder to overcome than any adversary but far more worthwhile.

Once you are able to direct your focus inward in this manner, a shift in thinking and perspective begins to take place. Not only can you start to get on top of negative emotions like jealousy and anger. A positive mindset starts to take root allowing progress in other areas. This mindset is one conducive for creativity, goal setting, focus and clarity of mind. no longer are you victim to your runaway thoughts and the emotionally driven decisions and actions that were previously so dominant. You will find yourself generally happier, less stressed and unaffected by the external factors that beat down so many others.

Anything worthwhile doing is hard. Nothing is harder than gazing inward and holding yourself to account, taking ownership for your faults and working on self-betterment. It is a long hard road, along which some of us have more work to do than others on our journey. Regardless of our starting point it is a process that we just have to begin.

This process has no end, it is an unwinnable battle. Unless, like the buddha you manage to reach spiritual enlightenment it is an ongoing process in which gradual and continued improvement is the best outcome we can achieve. The work itself and the enrichment it provides is its own reward. You’ll feel happier and better within yourself, your interactions with people will be more pleasant and you’ll be less susceptible to the negativity of others. You’ll build better relationships and attract better people into your circle. In addition, you will enjoy a positive state of mind providing the framework for success in all areas of your life. You’ll achieve all that you strive for because self-doubt and external negativity will be unable to gain any foothold.

Win the battle over self and win the mind game that is life.

 

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self.”

-Aristotle

Blog by

Scott T.K Keighran

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