Throughout history, stories both fictional and real, are replete with the concept of mastery. How do we achieve it?
A recurrent theme is of people given powers that they are not capable of handling. Or of learning a secret they should not be privy to, because they do not have the psychological capabilities to utilise it justly.* Those stories are not necessarily restricted to children or adolescents either.
The child you once were, went on to become king or queen of your realm but when younger you’re in the position above exactly; one of naivety in how to handle your own mind, in wonder of your powers and powerlessness, investigating the world to establish the possibilities.
Children are incapable through lack of experience to rule, while at the same time they are manipulated by those with unfairly advantageous life experience by comparison: often for self interested reasons, and just to confuse thing, not always consciously.
Once a semblance of independence was established you became ready to serve the republic of you. A belated congratulations!
But who you serve… well – that’s not necessarily a choice you could make initially. Because you have to disentangle your self from the self of others and be selfish without any of the negative connotations of that word.
RD Laing and Jung called this process individuation, when you begin to wrestle against the net of ideas and concepts that others and society have created in order to discover your true self.
All of your theories, ideas, experiences and what you know of the universe have led you to that point. Self actualisation may occur, but is often never reached which is where life coaching and therapy can play key roles.
Now, assume that you serve your self and are master of your castle.
So life should be easy. Right? It’s what we strive for as youngsters. But how you treat your self is paramount to how the castle runs. And how you have been treated will also have a (not always) rational, but alarming influence.
When serving your own interests in a healthy way, you have self compassion and respect your self as you are, as well as mirroring those attributes in others that deserve it.
When you are not serving your self in a healthy way, and many aren’t, you leave your castle open to manipulation. And you may be unaware of manipulations that are ingoing as they can be insidious, relics of our formative years when we were programmed (yes programmed) by our care givers and people of influence.
It’s like to build your castle on a haunted ground (strictly illustrative), on a network of tunnels that you didn’t even know existed which are the subconscious part of our self: which can launch attacks seemingly without leaving a trace, like treasonous secret agents.
One of the first tasks – even if you think you’ve been a rolling independent empire for some time – is to look deeper. Unfurl a cartoonishly large unwieldy blueprint of your life on your grand desk and have a look.
Are you really in charge of your own mind and future? If being honest, you might find you were not really in charge, or were/are not in charge as much as you assumed. Actually, you may even have been tricked into thinking you were independent regardless of your current age.
At this stage a critical reassessment is needed and if you’re brave enough to do it, it may produce a destabilising effect, your castle experiencing some earthquakes and tremors.
While life coaching does not typically delve into elements requiring the attention of a therapist, there is inevitable crossover at times.
In order to strengthen boundaries some examination of the self is needed in order to grow and to establish what the weak boundaries are. Only then can you know how to fortify them.
When we feel secure in our self, and cultivate a mindset of liking our self, then we can more easily identify and kick out unwelcome visitors, ideas, beliefs, and serve our self with respect.
Your castle can become a place of peaceful tranquillity. Acceptance becomes security, while self rejection destabilises and creates a domain of chaos with unfavourable ramifications not just for ourselves but for others too.
How you get rid of your unwelcome guests is up to you. Maybe they can walk freely out the main entrance with a good bye, or perhaps an ‘accidental’ fall-from-the-castle policy is more fitting…
While self serve in a super market is not ideal, in your territory, your castle, it is the only way to achieve lasting fulfilment and no bags are needed.
Many are raised with the idea that thinking of our self is selfish, or wrong, something to be guilty for. It’s actually the opposite. People with strong boundaries, serving their self are more content and do not seek to destroy others. Those with weak boundaries have inner turmoil that damages them internally and exhibits in negative behaviours and actions towards others.
Don’t be overly attentive, but do run passport checks on people and ideas and see if they are helpful to your kingdom and what you wish to build now and into the future.
A final note: it is easy to confuse serving the self with a notion of a despotic toddler hell bent on doing as they please due to the bad rap that the word selfish has. Healthily acting in your best interests is not about hedonism or acting with impunity.
*A common test is that of several siblings who must go on a quest to prove they are worthy of becoming a king/queen, or of marriage, or a unique gift. Typically, the fairest and most virtuous succeeds where others have failed in a common tale of morality. I suggest you read or reread some children’s stories particularly ones that have not been modified to pacify, nor cleansed versions of old classics. Don’t dismiss stories for children easily, they can teach us a lot in adulthood too and even remind us of simple concepts we’d forgotten.