August 17, 2020 Blog No Comments

I’m on a summer writing break and re-posting articles that are relevant now. This one from Nov. 2015  is pertinent to countering our sense of things being out of control.

My focus on self-mastery is self-serving.  I find it difficult to be in situations where people feel like a chess pawn, moved around and victimized by circumstances they believe are beyond their control. I usually see numerous options that could make it better.

This is one of the motivations for the work I am doing now. I want to help people recognize their personal power and their ability to chart their own course, including moving from a bad situation into something much better.

Lately I wrote about how the people in the Bahama’s have joyously learned to ride the waves of tourism to make it work to their advantage. The changes to their island culture could have just as easily created despair.  And recently, we saw the closing of our favorite music club where my husband played regularly and where we met. It is closing because changing factors in the music and restaurant industry are affecting the club’s ability to succeed.

All of these factors are related to the Law of Cause and Effect. Let’s look at our role in either being affected by circumstances around us, like the pawn or being the one to cause things to happen.

We know this – everything that happens has a cause and every cause creates an effect. There are no accidents. We say something was random or happened by chance when we don’t see or understand the cause. But step way back; you’ll see the full sequence of events and the choices that put you in the path of every event that affects you.

How do you perceive things for yourself? The closer you are to creating your own forward movement, rather than simply reacting to events, the more you have control over the results. Conversely, the further away you are from the decisions that impact your life, the more you may feel like a pawn.

We have a choice in this and can easily learn to be more of a creator than a pawn in our life events.  Here are some of the skills you can develop to obtain this self-mastery.


We choose what we think – it’s a no-brainer, right? The problem is our patterns of thinking. Most people think like this: When something good is going on, they are quick to give themselves or those close to them credit for why it’s happening. When things get bad, they tend to become blind to their role in it, externalizing the blame to forces outside of their sphere of influence. Often this also includes not seeing their ability to change it.

The process of developing self-mastery includes learning to take more personal responsibility. The faster we see our own culpability in any situation that we want changed, the faster we’ll figure out what to do to improve the situation.

Changing our perspective to look for ways to take personal responsibility puts us on the fast track to create changes that generate a life of greater personal empowerment.


We get to choose who we include in our life. We forget this one. It’s often the people closest to us that make us feel victimized. The demanding boss, the pessimistic friend, the competitive co-worker can make life situations unnecessarily complicated and negatively charged.  When you don’t have the power to change these people, the stress it creates is real and damaging.

But there are things you can do. When you control how much attention and credence you give the people who create negativity and chaos in your life, you immediately change the power dynamic. When you get bold enough to literally change who you include in your inner circle, you restore your sense of balance.

Putting yourself in the role of deciding who you include in your sphere of influence creates more locus of control in your life


Everything around us stays in flux. The rhythms of our life are like the weather, the tides, the sun and the moon. There are phases and extremes at both ends.  When we learn to look at things from the highest perspective, we can see the swings and learn to trust that over time, things level out.  Like the pendulum swinging from one end to another, everything has a natural base line. When we learn to keep ourselves grounded in this place, we avoid the swings in reactions.

Keeping our expectations for our life at the highest level helps us change our focus. Notice what you give attention to. When you are looking for the evidence of the abundance and joyousness of your life you will notice those lovely details vs what you don’t like or causes stress. This is a form of thought control that helps you maintain mindful focus on your most positive expectations.

Controlling where you focus your thoughts helps you manage your reactions, stabilizes and improves your mood, and becomes one of the greatest gifts of self-mastery.


The more responsibility you consciously take to make things better in your life, the more you will recognize that being a pawn in negative situations is often a choice. Of course, there are always things you cannot avoid. But as we learn from the law of averages, it’s easier to accept negative things when you have a sense of personal control over other aspects of your life.

When you’re flowing with the events ofy our life and something negative happens, you learn to follow the stream around it, rather than having it block you. When you blame others, it creates resistance that will be an anchor that keeps you stuck.

By looking for the best possible outcome and doing what you can to affect it, you stay in the creator role. The sense of personal mastery is always greater in that place.

Let me know if you would like to explore these issues for yourself. My Transformational Life Coaching and Counseling addresses this concept in depth. Reach out at and use my Free Consultation link to reach me.  I’d love to help you in a journey of self-mastery!


Written by Connie Milligan, LCSW
If there is anything I’ve expressed that speaks to you, I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at my email, connie [at] conniemilligan [dot] com