Emotion Regulation 1.17: Build Mastery

Build Mastery

We continue a series on how to effectively manage emotions, so that we can engage more thoughtfully in relationship. All of the skills we discuss are designed to support the ultimate goal of wisdom (see post titled, “Emotion Regulation 1.0”).

For several posts, we looked at various mindfulness (awareness) skills; next we covered several distress tolerance (crisis management/survival) skills; then we looked at a few interpersonal effectiveness (assertiveness) skills. A couple days ago, we began covering four emotion regulations skills. Today’s skill: build mastery. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself and makes you feel in control and confident.


Of course, that means you’ll have to take the time and put in the practice to learn how to do something well. About six months ago, I took my first pottery course. Many of the students were seasoned potters, but what I was spinning out was spinning out of control. But I really wanted to make something I wanted to keep, so I stuck with the process, attending as many open studio sessions as I could. By the time Christmas rolled around, I had improved my skills enough to make at least one gift for everyone that didn’t look like a third grader did it for art class.

Any skill you want to master takes time. I’ll probably never be a master potter. In fact, I’ve attempted several creative endeavors that I’ve enjoyed, only to get to the point where I realize that it’ll take a lot more practice than I have time for to earn the skill level I want, so I allow myself to be satisfied with what I’ve accomplished and move on. I’m content with having tried something and learned that it isn’t impossible.

The Process, Not the Outcome

It’s the process, not the outcome, that matters most. Build mastery. The act of building, of learning, of improving is what increases confidence. The first time I tried, I couldn’t even center a pound of clay on the pottery wheel. Now I don’t even have to think when I center the clay; it almost happens of it’s own accord. But getting to that point took several steps and a lot of botched attempts. As I was learning by trial and error–mostly error–I found out that closing my eyes helped me to center the clay. I had to feel through the process.

Feel Through It

What are you trying to master? Metaphorically speaking, would it help to close your eyes and feel through it? Drop down into your core and see if you can dip into the deep pool of wisdom you have there. Can you listen to what your soul has to say about this thing you want to master?

How about these emotion regulation skills–are you willing to put in the time and effort to master them? How much time are you willing to give yourself until they become your new default? Would the rest of your life be too long? Are you willing to give yourself the gift of patience, kindness and compassion while you learn them? Does the core of wisdom inside you have the energy and intuitive knowing that can help you put them into practice when you need them most?

If you purpose to master these skills, I can guarantee you won’t regret it, and you’ll wear the confidence you build in all your relationships. Your loved ones will want what you have! You can’t fail if you stick with the process and learn from your mistakes.


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