Thoughts on Self-Mastery

The happiness of a man in this life does not consist in the absence but in the mastery of his passions. – Alfred Lord Tennyson

Self- Mastery, also known as temperance or self-control is a subject that is not commonly talked about unless someone is clearly out of control…

Let’s take it from the definition:

The original 1828 version of Webster’s Dictionary, states the definition of Temperance like this:

TEMPERANCE, noun [Latin temperantia, from tempero.]

1. Moderation; particularly, habitual moderation in regard to the indulgence of the natural appetites and passions; restrained or moderate indulgence; as temperance in eating and drinking; temperance in the indulgence of joy or mirth. temperance in eating and drinking is opposed to gluttony and drunkenness, and in other indulgences, to excess. 

2. Patience; calmness; sedateness; moderation of passion.

The most recent definition in the modern Webster’s Dictionary says:

1. Moderation in action thought, or feeling: restraint
a. Habitual moderation in the indulgence of the appetites or passions
b. moderation in or abstinence from the use of alcoholic beverages

The definition has clearly changed a bit over time. The original definition implies balance in every sense, but the second seems a little more restrictive and practice oriented. In this article, we define “Temperance” more in line with the earlier definition. In this sense, the person isn’t overindulging or ‘gorging’ if you will on any one thing. In fact, a person who has a good grasp on the principle of ‘self-mastery’ is the person has a very balanced life.

In order to be a ‘master’ of yourself, you need to have good discipline, work ethic and organisation, but you also must control your thoughts and emotions. Even too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Also, every action in business or any other arena has a consequence. For example, if a person comes into a large inheritance without having someone to help manage the wealth and understand good financial principals, that person will manage their wealth poorly.

In the modern Western world, patience is NOT valued. In fact, people prefer instant gratification and instant results to slow and steady growth. However, this ‘fast food’ mentality leads to many pitfalls, especially when people become entitled and addicted to convenience and quick solutions. Creativity and innovation take time and effort, and few hasty decisions lead to positive ends.

Self-control and temperance are excellent leadership skills and can lead to improved care for patients, team members and clients. A calm, patient, emotionally stable employee, administrator, or caregiver makes fewer mistakes and often has more compassion for their patients and co-workers. There are a variety of ways to improve self-mastery on the physical and emotional level.

A few ways to have more self-mastery are controlled eating, exercise, meditation, and taking the time to think through problems before acting. There are more advanced ways to have self- mastery, but we will have to save that for another article. In summary, the temperate person leads a balanced life, and is able to control his/her responses to life’s challenges and circumstances.

©Allison J. Weaver Consulting, LLC 2017


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