To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Living in Balance: Get More From Life—5 Steps to Creating Healthy Boundaries,” by Tasneem Bhatia, M.D., in the April 2013 issue. Article summary: Some of the best massage therapists battle chronic illnesses or have weak immune systems. They are masters at relieving stress and promoting health in others, but not in themselves. Here are some areas to direct your attention as you develop good boundaries.

What do Socrates, William Faulkner, James Allen, Buddha, Napoleon Hill, Copernicus, Henry Ford, Paramahansa Yogananda, Leonardo da Vinci, Jesus, Einstein, Andrew Carnegie and Ralph Waldo Emerson have in common? They were all masters of achievement—in business, intellect, spiritual realization, art and literature. They were also all masters of themselves.

A study of their lives reveals the common thread in their successes: They understood and constructively applied the power of thought. Through self-mastery of their minds, they each developed unique gifts and shared them with the world. That doesn’t mean they did not have challenges; it means they overcame them. By overcoming internal challenges of habit, they overcame all else.

But you say, “I’m no Einstein or da Vinci. How does this apply to me?” The good news is the principles espoused thousands of years ago are still relevant today. Whether you decide to apply them is a choice.

Here are three powerful tools for achieving self-mastery.

1. Self-analysis. First and foremost required is a willingness to look honestly at the aspects of yourself that sabotage goals, relationships, health and peace. Initially, this takes courage, but yields great insight. Looking at your foibles does not mean judging them. It simply means bringing them into awareness in order to release them.

Identify the top three habits that create the most limitation, discord or time wasted in your life. Begin with the one that reaches furthest across multiple life areas. Once it is mastered, move onto the next.

2. The power to choose. It’s ironic the only thing we really have control over is our thoughts. That one thing determines everything! Thoughts trigger feelings, which trigger actions. Since habits of thought become habits of action, you can choose to replace detrimental ones with beneficial ones.

Teach yourself to observe your thoughts and feelings and watch what actions follow. Especially note when you want to escape or go on automatic pilot. Ask, “How is this habit serving me? What do I prefer in its place?”

3. Self-control. Have a preplanned replacement thought or action ready. As soon as you observe the undesired habit, immediately implement its replacement. Willpower is like a muscle: Targeted use builds strength. Repeat the new thought, feeling and action until it becomes the new habit.

The great ones knew self-mastery took effort, yet its rewards are more than commensurate. What gift of yours will self-mastery reveal?

Kathleen Gramzay, L.M.T., N.C.T.M.B., is the developer and continuing education provider of Kinessage® Massage Through Movement and Kinessage® Self-Care for Therapists. She teaches Kinessage® to manual therapists around the country, presents Kinessage® Self-Care to the general public, and is the author of her blog, The Art of Well-Being. Gramzay is the owner of Knead for Balance Inc. (www.kneadforbalance.com), a 13-year-old massage therapy practice in Scottsdale, Arizona.

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