If you don’t learn to manage yourself, others will manage you.

In my lifelong yearning to learn about self-management, I had to face many occasions and experiences where I have been firmly managed by someone or something outside myself. A very recent experience was on the golf course. I have been playing social and weekend golf for about 5 years now and decided to call on the guidance of a golf coach to help me with my swing. I did not anticipate how challenging it would be to make changes to my swing. I should have known better, knowing that even Tiger Woods in his high days of golf spent hours and months on any change in his golf swing.


My golf swing started to manage me and my behavior on the golf course became an embarrassment for my husband and mostly for me.  I know better, I mean I am a psychologist and people pay me to help them with their self-management. Thus the inspiration to write this blog. I am doing it for me and hopefully, you will gain some insights as well.


What is self-management?


A Google search showed the following explanation:  “management of or by oneself; the taking of responsibility for one’s own behavior and well-being.” I have not shown much of my ability to manage myself on the golf course, trying out my new golf swing. I have not taken care of my behavior nor my well-being. I hung my head in shame, dusted myself off and focused on self-management during my next game. It indeed was a much more pleasurable experience for my friends and for me.


Managing oneself is taking responsibility for one’s behavior and well-being.


5 keys to managing self


  1. Embrace challenges and obstacles.


Life is not supposed to be an easy ride. We all face a fair share of challenges, obstacles, pains, and losses. We often do not have a choice in what life brings to us, but we have a choice of how we wish to react and respond. A self-managed person will incorporate the following mindset in their mental mind models of how to deal with life: When they face a challenge, the following question will pop in their mind: “How is what’s happening to me, helping me and how is it good for me?”.


In my more mindful and self-managed golf game, this question popped in my mind and as I assessed how it was helping me, my whole demeanor changed. I realized I am subconsciously playing out a strategy to get my husband’s attention on the golf course and when I acknowledged it to myself, I realized that I would get his attention much more freely by being more pleasant and fun to be around. Golf swing has no power over me. I have power over my way of reacting to a perceived challenge. I got more out of my self-managed manner than out of my disempowered state.


  1. Disrupt yourself


A man in his early fifties bought a package of consultations from me with the intent to empower himself and to climb the corporate ladder to a leadership role in the international company he is working for. The mentoring sessions were focused on disrupting himself.


Playing small was holding him back from reaching his dreams. He had to show the courage to step out of his comfort zone and become disruptive. Managing self includes stepping out of your comfort zone and facing your fears and insecurities. Disruptive in this sense does not refer to being unruly or undisciplined. It refers to showing new and original thinking and action that causes change. He disrupted his original thinking of how he wishes to lead (internal thinking) to a different mindset – he looked externally to the most compelling needs of the team he would be responsible for leading and his focus shifted to serve their needs of working more in cohesion. He was only able to become more self-managed when he started to focus on a bigger picture in which he could play an impactful role. He managed himself by owning the 5 outstanding traits that will make him the leader he wishes to be to build the most dynamic team working in cohesion for the company he is working for. His self-management includes facing his fears and insecurities and shifting his thinking from internal and self-focused thinking to include external and other-focused thinking as well.


  1. Fight your entitlement

In your life, it’s not what you hope for. It’s not what you think you deserve. It’s what you go and get.

Entitlement is a quick downfall for the person who desires to be more self-managed than being managed by outside forces. If you think you deserve something, you are entitled. A professional woman sought out my guidance. She wanted me to help her change her young adult daughter, age 19 years who, in this mother’s eyes, was far too independent. The woman was also blaming herself and stacking up heaps of guilt for not being connected to her young adult daughter. The opposite of entitlement is contribution. When we shifted the focus for the mom to what she could possibly contribute to having the relationship with her daughter, who is in a natural stage of seeking independence, she started to self-manage. She started to take ownership for creating the relationship with her daughter she desired. She knows her daughter loves spa treatments and invited her 19-year old daughter to a Mom-Daughter 3-day Spa Retreat, which the daughter accepted with a big “yes”. Instead of holding onto the belief that a daughter is supposed to be close to mom (entitlement), Mom took action to create the relationship with her daughter she wished by contributing through offering high-value connections to her daughter. If you don’t receive what you want and you blame the other person for it, you are entitled.

You self manage when you take action through contributing to manifest what you want.


  1. See failure as your motivator


When you succeed you’re on your way down. When you fail you’re on your way up. John Demartini

“I’m so anxious, I feel like I’m having panic attacks”, said a 15-year old girl to me. The last time I saw her, was when she was 6-years old and came to see me for play therapy. “Let’s get to the bottom of your anxiety”, I said to her.


As we unpacked her anxiety, it became clear that she was perceiving herself to be a social failure, alienated from friends and social events. When her mom received my newsletter about my rebranding and taking my former brand name, Bella Vida out of the mothballs, Mom reacted to her daughter’s request to speak to someone. She remembered how play therapy helped her young daughter many years ago at Bella Vida Centre and she promptly made an appointment for her daughter to come and see me.


Through my strategic questions, the teenager realized minute by minute how powerfully she has co-created her social environment and how it is serving her perfectly according to what she values most. She failed in becoming one of the girls who have a  higher priority on socially fitting in and teasing the ones who work hard at school work and she was successful in honoring what is really important to her, which is doing well academically. She has been unaware that she has been masterfully self-managing what is of real importance to her. She has been successful in valuing herself and doing well in her school work. Her belief that she was wrong and failing, made her anxious. When she realized she was honoring herself and what is of importance to her, she felt relief and her anxiety subsided.

Failure is just a perception, but having this perception is a strategy to fuel success.


  1. Develop the habit of gratitude.


Gratitude is a celebration and affirmation and recognition of the good in life. It is not ignoring the negative aspects of life, it is acknowledging the blessings you are receiving. These blessings are to be found in both the positive and the negative experiences in life as the positive experiences make us rest in our growth and the negative experiences make us grow out of our rest. Gratitude is available to everyone, everywhere, anytime and you can practice gratitude any time and everywhere.


The benefits of an attitude of gratitude:


  • Gratefulness increases emotional well-being.
  • Grateful people achieve more.
  • Grateful people get along better with others.
  • Grateful people pay it forward.
  • Grateful people are less depressed.
  • Grateful people are more resilient to trauma.


Gratitude is good medicine:


  • There is a reduction in perceived stress (28%) and depression (16%) in health care practitioners.
  • 23% lower levels of stress hormones, Cortisol.
  • Reduced feelings of hopelessness in 88% of suicidal inpatients.
  • 15-18% more efficient sleep.
  • Improved inflammatory biomarkers in heart failure patients.
  • Reduced risk of depression in patients by 41% over a six-month period.
  • Dietary fat intake reduced by 25%.
  • 15% lower depression in arthritis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome patients.
  • 25-33% increase in physical exercise.


If you keen to incorporate the habit of gratitude in your journey to managing you, follow my Gratitude Club – how to develop the attitude of gratitude in 21 days.


To receive your free e-book:  Gratitude Club – how to develop the attitude of gratitude in 21 days, send your request to info@ilzealberts.com.


I am available for consultations, face-to-face in Johannesburg, South Africa or on Skype virtually. To set up a consultation with me send your request to info@ilzealberts.com or phone e+27607434143