“No person is free who is not master of themselves.” – Epictetus
The first step in mastering anything is getting a solid understanding of it. The same is true of ourselves. In order to get a good handle on what we do, we need to first have a good handle on why we do it in the first place. There are all kinds of personality trait tests out there that are reasonable guides for starting to understand ourselves. One could also spend time working on seeing ourselves objectively and then figuring our motives from that angle, it would be harder, a lot more work, and would take longer but it would likely yield more satisfying results in the end.
Once we have an understanding of ourselves that gives us better insight into why we do the things we do in the way that we do them, we still have to make an effort to master ourselves in order to become the people we want to be. It does us no good to know for example, that we score low on the conscientiousness trait if we are not prepared to start finding ways to hold ourselves accountable for procrastinating.
Once we have started down the path to self mastery, many of us will be surprised by the number of activities we once enjoyed but will slowly start to hold in contempt.
And we will also start to enjoy the feeling of cutting those things out of our lives on our way to freedom.
virtus fortis vocat