skip to Main Content
Are You A Slave To Yourself?

Are you a slave to yourself?

Everyone Thinks Of Changing The World, But No One Thinks Of Changing Himself. Leo Tolstoy

This week I was walking my dog Blaze on the beach, and a jogger got really angry at me because my dog Blaze – who is a very big, exceptionally friendly, 10 month old giant Schnauzer – was wanting to play with the jogger. To my mind, the jogger lost control of his temper and became quite threatening just because I refused to immediately comply with his specific instructions on how to control my dog. However, after a short while he calmed down and we laughed together about the experience, which ended with him saying sorry and admitting that he had an uncontrollable temper. Reflecting later on this, a story came to mind:

A Zen disciple approached his teacher “Master, I have an uncontrollable temper. Can you help me overcome it?”

The teacher said “Hmmm, that’s strange. Can you show it to me?”

The student said “No, not right now.”

“Why not?” said the teacher

“Because it occurs suddenly and it is uncontrollable” said the student.

“Then, it can’t be a part of your true nature,” said the teacher, “because if it was, you wouldn’t have any difficulty in showing it! So my question to you is why do you allow something that isn’t yours take so much control of you ?”

We allow our emotions to control us.  Oscar Wilde once said

I don’t want to be at the mercy of my emotions. I want to use them, to enjoy them, and to dominate them.

Would you describe yourself as emotional? Do you feel like your mood can change instantly according to what happens in your day? Then, you may be a slave to your emotions.

Being an emotional person or leading with the heart can be great qualities. Leaning into our feelings allows us to be more self-aware and helps connect us to others. But, if we allow our emotions to dictate how we live our lives, it can lead to anxiety, depression, and even have a negative impact on our health and relationships, creating silly daily arguments with others.

Yet, one of the major coaching questions I get asked is How can I manage my emotions better and how can I make that change?

Now. change looks different to different people. Some people handle it with ease while for others it is a huge and difficult challenge. Most people live their lives waiting for something to happen. They keep repeating all their yesterdays and expect tomorrow to be different.

They either lack the drive to change their situation for the better, and they sit and wait for their ‘big break’, or they are lazy in their habits and allow their brain and emotion make decisions for them. Others float through years like zombies until one day, if they’re lucky, they retire and get to do everything they ever wanted. Except by that point, 40+ years of their lives have simply gone.

Too often, we think of success or doing what we love as an end – a destination that we have to reach. What so many people fail to realize is that both of those concepts are more an approach to the journey, rather than the end of the journey itself.

You are successful, when you are walking your path, always learning, always growing. You are doing what you love, when you see every moment as an opportunity.

Most people have things we would like to change, from our exercise and diet habits to tendency to procrastinate or quit too easily; all the while, most of aim plan to nurture productivity, patience, mindfulness, de-cluttering, finances, reading and learning so we can do all the things we want to do in life. But that is all easier said than done … change is hard for a reason.

Little Billy is playing in the garden with his good friend Rachael the caterpillar that he has discovered two days before. It’s a beautiful day and Billy is happy. At the end of the day, he says goodbye to Rachael.

The next time he is in the garden, he goes to find his friend and he is shocked to find that Rachael is cocooned in a silky like substance. Billy is shocked and he runs indoors to tell his mum that something terrible has happened to his friend. After checking in on Rachael, Billy’s mum tells him not to worry as something beautiful is about to occur. Rachael is going to turn into a beautiful butterfly. Billy is now so excited for his friend.

Every day Billy goes out to check on his friend Rachael.

One day a small opening appears. He sits and watches as Rachael struggles to force her body through that little hole. Then suddenly she stops making any progress and looks like she is stuck.

Billy decides to help Rachael. He takes a pair of scissors and snips off the remaining bit of the cocoon. Rachael emerges easily, she has changed. She now has a swollen body and small, shrivelled wings.

Billy sits there waiting for the wings to enlarge and support the butterfly. But that doesn’t happen. The butterfly spends the rest of its life unable to fly, crawling around with tiny wings and a swollen body.

What Billy did not understand  is that it’s the struggle we go through that makes us ready for the change.

Our struggles develop our strengths. Without struggles, we never grow and never get stronger, so it’s important for us to tackle challenges on our own, and not be relying on help from others.

Going after the things we want, learning new skills, and chasing our desires is hard, which is why most people don’t bother. But with the right attitude and a little bit of guidance, you can put yourself on a path to becoming who you truly want to be.

You can get off your ass and transform your life into anything you want. Here’s how:

A Year From Now You Will Wish You Had Started Today.  Karen Lamb

1. Unless you’re the lead dog of the sled, the view never changes

If you sit within a pack or follow the herd, you will never find your true identity or travel your own life’s path. When we sit in our comfort, doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result, we will never live to our full potential. Regardless of our hesitation or fear, humans need change to be happy. Try to do something you’ve never done, every single day. Don’t be afraid to try new things and stand in your discomfort zone.

If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.

You have to step out of the pack and get a better view of the path you want to follow, not the one others tell you must follow.

2. CARPE DIEM, BABY!

This moment is all we are guaranteed.

Life is short, time is fast, no replay, no rewind, so enjoy every moment as it comes.

Many times, what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks but a special heart that listens. By living in the moment, you calm your mind and are able to see more clearly.The reason some problems seem so daunting is that our mind is racing so fast that we cannot see things as they truly are. So, we make up a bunch of possible scenarios in our mind, most of which are unlikely to ever come true.

In addition to seeing more clearly, living in the moment will help us think more realistically. Unrealistic thinking is fueled by confusion and uncontrolled emotions. Calming your mind will reduce confusion and calm your emotions.

3. PLAY MORE, WORRY LESS

Worry … It’s what keeps many laying awake at night and is what annoyingly gnaws away at people as they try to work, enjoy life and relax.

The best possible way to prepare for tomorrow is to concentrate with all your intelligence and with all your enthusiasm, on doing today’s work superbly, today. That is the only possible way you can prepare for the future.

As adults, we get caught up in the big adult responsibilities of life and sometimes we forget what it’s like to play. Every day brings something to be excited about if we choose to look for the joy.

4. GRUDGES ARE RIDICULOUS

Resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die, stated once Nelson Mandela, while Mahatma Gandhi taught an eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.

 5. DO IT OR NOT. THERE IS NO TRY

Success requires resilience and effort. Successful people are tenacious, persistent, self-disciplined.

Successful people don’t try. They do. And when they fail, they do again. And again. And again.

Changing your paradigm from one of trying to one of doing isn’t easy to accomplish, but then again, easily obtained things aren’t usually worth much.

6. DON’T FORGET YOUR DREAMS

Successful, satisfied people know the value of dreams and visions, and they’re always working on them. In their eyes, life’s dreams aren’t static, isolated solutions or escape hatches from the here and now. Nor are they fantasy cure-alls or ‘consolation prizes’ that will someday compensate them for otherwise meaningless labors. On the contrary, to people who are actively working on their dreams, the dream is their life.

Like a painter repeatedly drawn back to work on a canvas, a dream-motivated person sees all his or her daily achievements – even mundane ones – as contributing to a larger effort that expresses his or her very essence.

Because that effort is meaningful and rewarding in itself, it propels the person forward – in good times and bad, through successes and setbacks – in a way that no mere carrot or simple material reward could.

7. HUG THE MONSTERS

There’s something that happens to you when you think you may die.  Your life flashes before you and you realize that you have regrets.

And those regrets have little to do with what you’ve tried to achieve – they’re all about those things you didn’t have the guts to do.

Everyone has fears – that doesn’t mean there’s anything seriously wrong. But if your fears prevent you from doing things that you truly want to do, then you have a real problem. And, of course, the more important areas of your life are affected, the more of a problem you have. Fortunately, however big or small, you don’t have to be a victim of your fears.

One thing I learned from my cancer journey is that I’ll regret not going after my dreams more than I’ll regret making some wrong turns while going after them, because I fear not trying more than I fear doing something new, or making mistakes along the way.  I just need to remind myself of this from time to time.

8. THE EXTRA MILE IS A VAST, UNPOPULATED WASTELAND

So many people give up at the point of success.  Why? They don’t believe in themselves enough. And of course, there is most overused but brutally true cliche known to man: the fastest route to abandoning your goals is a lack of self belief.

Mindset is everything, and without an iron clad and positive frame of mind, you will fail. That’s just the cold hard truth of it all. No matter how talented you are, no matter how many opportunities are handed to you on a silver platter, if you lack belief in yourself, you will find a way to squander it all.

9. IT’S JUST A FLESH WOUND

Tis but a scratch!” and “Just a flesh wound!Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Imagine that, right before you drove home from work, someone told you that all of the old traffic laws had changed forever: red no longer meant stop and green no longer meant go. In fact, all of the signs that used to guide you were no longer valid. The old laws were gone but the new laws were yet to be written. How would you feel and what would you think as you set out for home?

We are creatures of habit. Steeped in routine behavior that we repeat autonomously day-in and day-out, our lives become fundamentally hinged on the scripts we replay over and over again. Changing the script feels life self hurt. That might be why it’s so hard to change. It’s part of our comfort zone, which includes our very thoughts, emotions and behaviors. We need to understand it will be challenging but the pain will pass.

THE MENTAL FILTER – 3 questions to ask yourself

  1. Do you want to make this change?
  2. Can you make this change?
  3. When will you make this change?

About Dr Maurice Duffy

Irish. Author, Professor, Coach and Business strategist. The person Australian Captain Steve Smith credited with helping him back from his cricket ban. Coach to two Ashes wins. Coach to CEOs, Politicians and some of the best know international sports starts including Olympians. BBC ‘Thought for the Week’. Coached business leaders and organizations in 80 countries. Works with charities to do with Mental Health. Lives in North East England with his wife and 11-year-old son.