The Tricky Balance of Self-Mastery

ScalesI’ve been getting advice and guidance from Kirk Duncan, a local teacher and mentor. A principle that I learned from him goes like this – self-accountability + self-forgiveness = self-mastery. I really like that. And the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that this principle is one of the main keys to success for anything in life.

There has to be a balance at all times. If you’re too much on the side of self-forgiveness, you’ll tend to be way too easy on yourself. You’ll just take the attitude that everything is fine and you don’t need to work or improve; that just getting by is all that’s required. In a way, it’s a nice way to be. Less stressful and actually healthier physically and mentally. The problem is that you don’t progress that way. You can’t coast your way to greater success in life. Pretty much anything worthwhile to accomplish in life takes a certain amount of effort, discipline and even sacrifice.

On the other hand, if you’re too much on the side of self-accountability, you’ll be way too hard on yourself. You will have no patience with your faults and weaknesses. If you’re a real go-getter, you may be thinking that you shouldn’t have patience with yourself like that. But it creates a great deal of stress in you that can tear you up inside, destroy health and relationships, and rob you of all happiness. Life is a journey that was meant to be enjoyed. Besides, what I’ve seen in my own life and the lives of others is that without self-forgiveness, you really don’t move forward effectively.

Here’s a little-known secret – success is often the product of joy, not the cause of it! Too many people are pushing themselves harder and harder, making themselves sick and miserable to accomplish their goals, while actually pushing their goals further away. Being sick and miserable does NOT attract success and happiness. Yes, progressing in life and accomplishing goals take effort and sacrifice, but you can do it while feeling joy, not putting off experiencing joy until your goal is accomplished. That’s where self-forgiveness comes in. If you’re really driven to accomplishing great things, you may be prone to beating yourself up every time you fall short of being where you want to be or finishing something you wanted to have done. Feelings of self-worth help to attract greater success. But if you’re constantly beating yourself up every time you make a mistake or don’t accomplish what you wanted to do, you will devalue yourself and put yourself into a place where it’s difficult to think positive and attract good things into your life.

So the key here is balance. If you can maintain accountability for your performance and setting and working toward goals, while forgiving yourself for falling short and for your natural limitations and weaknesses, you can move forward and accomplish great things in your life. It requires a healthy amount of self-honesty and the ability to distinguish reasons from excuses. But even when we fall victim to our own excuses, even the lame ones, we have to understand that we are human and as such, have natural faults and weaknesses. It’s important that we forgive ourselves but then immediately recommit to get back on track and do better next time. Just like a baby learning to walk, there is not a limitation on the number of failed attempts to do better. As long as you commit yourself and keep moving forward, you are a success!

 

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