Cultivating inner peace is one way to help us experience happiness in our lives. I think you would agree with me when I say that our fast-paced Western society hasn’t been all that successful at promoting inner peace as a lifestyle choice. For many of us, from the moment we open our eyes in the morning, we are faced with the pressures and stresses of daily life, both personally and professionally. It’s no wonder that this constant bombardment to our psyche robs us of being at peace with ourselves and the world.
When you look up the word peace in the dictionary, you will likely find it to be defined as a state of quiet and calm, freedom from disturbing thoughts, and an agreement to end hostilities. So, if this is the definition of peace, how often do we really have it? It would be logical to presume that, in order to have peace externally, we have to be at peace internally. Yet many times, we have emotions and feelings pent up from events and situations that prevent us from feeling a peaceful state. Did the boss just criticize your work? Did you get into an argument with your spouse about whose turn it was to unload the dishwasher? Did your surly teenager just roll her eyes at you again? Did Fido just do his business on your plush beige carpeting?
It’s hard to feel peaceful when faced with such challenges! But it’s very healthy to be able to release the emotions that prevent us from finding peace in a constructive and healing manner. Here are a couple of steps you can try to help release the tensions and emotions that may be blocking peace from entering your life.
The first thing you need to do is listen to yourself. In order to do this, you have to become aware of your thoughts, and get in touch with your feelings. Most of the time, we fly off the handle in a reactive way because we don’t consciously acknowledge our anger, annoyances or resentments. When you can recognize that you harbor these feelings and think, “yes, I am upset because of (whatever it is)”, you will begin to release these feelings. Suppressed anger is consuming and even dangerous once it is released – it would be like a time bomb waiting to explode.
Your next step is to accept responsibility for your feelings. It’s okay for you to say “Yes I am angry, and I am responsible for my feelings now”. When you start to take responsibility for your feelings, even when they are negative, you are de-powering the source that made you feel that way. When you start to change your thinking to include the idea that no one can make you do anything against your will, then you are taking control of your feelings. This is not an easy step and takes practice. Changing your mindset, and taking charge of your feelings, takes you from being a victim to being someone who takes control of how they want to be treated.
Equally important in attaining inner peace is your ability to let go of the past. You cannot change the painful past that makes you angry, sad, or frustrated. It happened. In the past. You can, however, change the direction you decide your life is going from this moment on. Once you accept yourself and those things you cannot change, let them and their associates thoughts go. Visualize, with your mind’s eye, placing each negative thought into a helium balloon, tying a knot, and watching it float up and away from you. For good. When you rid yourself of the often negative narrative your emotions hold on to, you will no longer stagnate but blossom. You will feel lighter, like a load has been lifted off your shoulders. Until you let go of the past, you cannot move wholeheartedly into a bright, new future.
Lastly, when you accept who you are – flaws, weaknesses and all – don’t forget the good things you have going for you. We all have strengths. We are all loveable in some way. When you can start to accept yourself as a complete, thriving and naturally human person, then you will start to find peace. Remember, no one is perfect. I’ll repeat that for emphasis: no one is perfect! When you begin to feel gratitude for who you are, and count your blessings, peace will start to reign in your life instead of anger.