What is Building Mastery and Why is it Important?

Self care is really important. When you consistently put yourself last, your mental health will suffer, and not only will you pay the price, but so will your family and those with whom you interact. Its not frugal or smart to never spend the time and energy to take care of yourself, because eventually you will burn out, and you won't be able to keep up any more. Self care is extremely important.

The thing is, there's more than one type of self care. There's the self care involving bubble baths and relaxing, which is wonderful, and don't get me wrong, I highly recommend that.

But recently I was discussing with my therapist that while I've gotten quite good at doing self care (something I neglected for years), the feeling I get while doing self care only really lasts during the self care, but I'm not able to carry it with me throughout my day to day life. We discussed how I needed to figure out a way to bring the happiness and fulfillment that my self care gives me into my life, because I can't constantly be "self caring" because I also have responsibilities that I need to be doing and a life I need to be living.

As part of some of the therapy I've been doing, there is an aspect that works with emotional regulation, and that comes with a long checklist of things that you can do to help with that. Of those ideas, one of those that really stuck in my mind is the concept of building mastery. Working on a skill and improving it. (Learn more here about how to get therapy if such help sounds important to you.)

There are so many ways to build mastery, whether just from practicing a hobby, or taking online classes, or classes in person, among other ways, but the reason building mastery is encouraged is that when you get better at something, it leaves you feeling good not just during the time you're doing the self care, but leaves you with a good feeling even afterwards.

You might say that you're too busy to learn something new, but I really, really recommend it, to find time. Pick something that interests you, that you're eager to learn more about, and then slowly but surely take little attainable bites, and once you see that you're capable of doing those, and you get better and better at it, you can build mastery in that topic. Here's what another website has to say about the concept of building mastery:

"Building mastery is about the empowerment that comes from achievement, and that in order to achieve something that we deem worthwhile, we need to set a goal and work toward mastering the skills needed to achieve it. The goal could be lofty, and even unattainable, but the act of improving our skills and getting closer to achieving a goal is, in itself, an empowering achievement. For example, think about mastering the guitar. If you play regularly, learn new techniques, and improve your chops, you’re mastering the instrument. If your goal is to become the world’s greatest guitar player, it may be unachievable only because it’s subjective – and even if others consider you to be best, you still may not. The point is that it’s not as much about achieving an ultimate goal as it is about achieving smaller, achievable goals – such as practicing five hours per week or learning a new song.
Building mastery is about committing to something and seeing it through. For the individual in recovery, it may mean reigniting a passion to do something that was abandoned when substance abuse took over. Getting back to a creative endeavor, such as painting, cooking, or writing can be therapeutic and fuel self-esteem. It also could be about trying something new. If you’ve always wanted to learn a new language, try yoga, or go hiking, just finding the courage to begin something new is a form of mastery. If you’ve contemplated doing it and never did, then the act of doing it once, for any length of time is an accomplishment."
For me, I've found that working on building mastery has been the key to bringing the feel good of self care into my daily life. Working on improving a skill leaves me on a high feeling great about myself, proud of my accomplishments, and that feeling good carries over, giving me extra spoons, filling my cup and replenishing my emotional reserves, so that when the trials and tribulations of life come along, I have the resilience to deal with them. I've had times where I've had things happen to me that usually would make me feel like breaking down and cry, but I was able to handle it with grace and equanimity because just that morning I'd had a successful lesson in the topic with which I've been attempting to gain mastery.

If you struggle with feeling good about yourself, pick something that you want to improve in, and get started learning. I want to share what exactly I chose for building mastery, but I wanted to write another post about that. But for now, I wanted to share just how important it is for ones emotional well being to set a goal and work on mastering the skills needed to accomplish it.

You're worth it.

Have you heard of the concept of building mastery in emotional health before? Do you try doing that? What do you do to build mastery? If this concept is new to you, do you think its something worth trying? What would you like to build mastery in?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. First I'm hearing about it. Thanks for sharing. I've been getting an urge to paint again and I think I will. Some part of me needs to create, to feel beneficial and hopefully turn it into a income stream. I have a airbrush set up that I want to use to create murals. Using it for emotional health might be just what saves me in the end. Really appreciate this post. It was eye opening.

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