The Myth of Self-Mastery

Excerpt from poem, Measure of Your Moments:

We each may be destined
to be a cog in a greater wheel,
but I will know my spirit.
I will claim my soul.
I will turn in my own time
and at my own pace.”

It is often said that the one thing you can control is yourself. Actually, this may be an exaggeration that promotes the illusory goal of self-mastery. It's enticing to believe that we can find our way free from the dream of the planet and the drives of the world. Self knowledge is both a necessity and an impossibility. It is a necessity in order to fully be our self and express our uniqueness in the world. It is an impossibility because we are inescapably shaped by the social and physical environment.  Our lives are lived in a great dance between fate and free will. In actual fact, we are not the lead in this dance. Forces greater than us sweep us along the way. Even our conscious self is nested in a larger Self that is largely outside of our awareness.

I suggest changing the focus from self-mastery to self-mystery. Self-mastery implies a relationship of dominance over oneself in which we batter or coax our “self” into submission.  Self-mystery opens us to a genuine relationship with our Self. This view invites us to discover our self anew, as wholly "other," as a real presence with purpose and intelligence of its own. It creates curiosity about our own unknown potential. We claim our spirit and our soul as partners, not as loyal subjects. We find our own rhythm and our own pace in the dance with the greater Self, who is, by the way, a master dancer. We enter into genuine intimacy with our Self once we learn when and how to dance with our self, both leading and following, both flowing and halting, sometimes in sync and sometimes syncopated.

To me, this view turns life into an adventure and offers the opportunity that I may surprise myself in everyday life. It helps me to recognize how often I repeat my life and my self back into old forms and how easily I fall back on an outdated presence. Instead, it opens the door for something new to come through me. This is the great treasure hunt which can bring the riches of oneself to life!

© Nick LeForce
All Rights Reserved

To read the full poem, Measure of Your Moments, click here!

This is part of a series of entries on The Work Of Being Your Self, which is the title of my latest book of poetry, a compilation of poems with questions to ponder and writing prompts to help you define yourself by exploring your response to five dynamic dilemmas in life. To learn more: