Personal Development can be confusing, stop wasting time. I made the mistakes so you don’t have to. Cut short your development time with this article.
Note: This is part of a 4 part series to cut your personal developments learning curve. The rest can be found at the Urban Monk website (www.urbanmonk.net).
Step Three: Master your emotions.
The objective of most people is to be happy. This might not be expressly stated; for example, in the two steps above you might have identified that you want to improve your relationships, or your career. But what is the outcome of that? Happiness.
That is not to say, discard all your objectives and goals. But unless you master your emotions first, you will not achieve happiness. Stories abound of people who achieve a good career, the perfect body, a great wife or husband, and a big house, but are still unhappy.
Get happy first, is my advice. My family is reasonably well-off, and I had many luxuries as a child. Did that make me happy? It made me comfortable yes, but not happy.
By mastering your emotions, cleaning out resentments and grievances, and changing your old habitual reactions to events, you will achieve happiness no matter what your external circumstances. Start with my Emotional Mastery category at the Urban Monk website. Be happy where you are now, and then work towards where you want to go.
Think of this analogy: You are a diamond in the rough, recently dug up, and still covered with dirt and mud along the years. Before you can begin to polish and shape the diamond, you have to clean the mud off. That is what emotional mastery means to me.
The dirt and mud refer to some events in your past that were painful to you. I dont believe that anybody can come through the journey into adulthood unhurt in all ways. All sorts of abuse, emotional, verbal, and physical, could have happened.
This is an exception to the statement that you should take responsibility for whatever has happened to you, especially if you were young and helpless. I have to make this distinction here or I will get bombed with hate mail.
For example; if you are an adult and were in an abusive relationship (I was in several emotionally abusive ones when I was younger), then you have to take responsibility. This was hard for me to accept too. I thought I did all I could; and I honestly tried my hardest. I gave and gave when she abused me. I kept quiet, tried to keep the calm, I tried to make her happy, make her value me. Its not my fault! I told myself for years as I wallowed in self-pity.
In fact, it was my fault. I could have, and should have, simply stood up for myself and walked away. I could have showed some self-respect instead of being a doormat. I could have simply told her that I did not deserve to be treated in that way, and walked away.
Now if something had happened at a younger age, say emotional abuse from my parents, it would be different. If I was helpless to defend myself, stand up for myself, or walk away from someone who violates me, then I cannot say that I was wrong. There is nothing you could have done in that case.
Many children grow up thinking that they were somehow to blame, that they somehow deserved the trauma that they suffered. That they were bad or just somehow wrong, and they carry these scars for life. Realize there is nothing you could have done, and you are not wrong or bad for suffering like that.
For past events there is one thing you can take responsibility for; and that is your reaction to it.
Do you perpetuate the cycle by doing it to others? Do you hurt other people, knowingly or unknowingly? Are you angry or spiteful? And do you justify it, consciously or unconsciously, by pointing to your suffering? Take responsibility for it; you are in charge of your own actions, regardless of your past. No-one can make you abusive or angry but you.
I went through an arsehole period of several months. I was angry and manipulative I figured if that was what they did to me, so I would do it to others. I mistakenly saw it as the only way to get what I wanted, or to be respected or liked. It was a childish, painful, and hurtful phase of my life. I made the mistake of thinking that anger and rage was power.
Back to the issue of past pain. Do you relive it over and again? Do you live in self-pity or self-doubt? Are you depressed?
Take responsibility for your happiness. Learn to forgive. Clean out your anger, and your sadness. More on these at the Emotional Mastery section at the Urban Monk website.