"If you cannot find peace within yourself, you will never find it anywhere else."
- Marvin Gaye
Ahh … peace … what thoughts does this word bring to mind?
I envision myself outdoors relaxing — perhaps by a lake — comfortably resting with a smile on my face. I may be reading a book, enjoying a drink with my husband, or simply sitting quietly, taking in the amazing views which surround me.
However, this type of peace is not a daily occurrence for most of us. Instead, this is a getaway moment, one where we’re miles away from our reality.
So exactly how do we find peace within our day-to-day life?
Many of us spend our awakened hours going through the motions, furiously checking off the boxes on our “to do” lists as we hurriedly transition from one item to the next. Focused on the day-to-day grind, we proudly accomplish our tasks in a proficient manner. We get it done!
But are we fully living our life? Has our desire for efficiency and productivity trumped our need for harmony? If so, how can we return to a balanced state, doing what is necessary AND being at peace with ourselves?
When we struggle internally to find our equilibrium, it is almost impossible to witness the beauty and grace which surrounds us. Instead, we often revert to a defensive mode, blaming others, not taking responsibility for our own actions, or projecting our own inadequacies onto those around us. This state of mind may cause us to think in less than ways, ultimately lowering our vibration and our ability to shine our light. We begin to react instead of respond. Our ego takes over, and suddenly we believe others’ behavior is directed at us and are because of us.
Maybe some of these phrases sound familiar …
Why did she act that way? What did I do to her?
I can’t believe she didn’t acknowledge me! How rude.
Did you see what he did? He’s crazy!
When we permit ourselves to become distracted by the small stuff and the insignificant dramas, our vision becomes clouded causing us to lose perspective of what’s truly important. We become focused on the minutia, the slights, and the omissions. Our ego takes center stage, demanding attention and throwing tantrums when things do not go our way. We forget that others’ behavior usually has very little to do with us. Rather, we make assumptions and take things personally.
Sound familiar? It does to me. After all, we’re human, and it’s easy to get side-tracked into thinking as our small self, our limited ego. However, if we can identify these moments and reflect upon the impetus, that’s when the learning occurs. Recently, I experienced one of these situations.
For several months I’d been on a good path. Everything seemed to flow. Life felt fulfilling, peaceful. My actions were aligned to my beliefs. And then I took a few steps backwards.
Perhaps it was a switch in environment, knowing I had to make dietary changes, or maybe it was merely the tasks that I needed to confront. Regardless, I shifted, and not in a good way.
I started noticing myself being affected by the small stuff, angry at things that were not mine. I became more judgmental, less tolerant, and somewhat demanding. When I awoke, I was not invigorated, looking forward to the day ahead. Instead, I found myself going through the motions.
Luckily, I quickly realized this change of attitude and was able to pause in order to determine the true cause. No, it wasn’t the rude person in the grocery store parking lot that made me mad. Nor was it the young kid driving too fast when children were nearby. Of course, neither of those situations were positive events, but they were not the reason for my misalignment.
The truth is I had momentarily lost my peace within. A fear had resurfaced, and this emotion magnified the everyday situations around me, causing me to react negatively instead of responding with perspective. My fear – which I thought I had processed — was the inner turmoil that caused me to trigger so quickly, not the external events.
But when I was able to take a step back and see what was truly upsetting me, I could then understand the concern, label the emotions that were surfacing, process these feelings, and let them go.
Isn’t it funny how we think we’ve conquered something, only for it to return as if to say, “Well you aren’t really done with this, are you? You’ve got a bit more work to do.”?
While disconcerting, the beautiful part of these momentary lapses in perspective is that we each have the ability to alter course in order to readjust our outlook. Accepting that there are many layers to the “onions” that lurk inside helps us to comprehend that we rarely instantaneously resolve the deep issues. While we can peel back the skin and outer layers, so often there is more to address. And that is exactly what I did.
In an effort to feel what was bothering me and then release those emotions, I walked in nature, listening to inspirational podcasts. Additionally, I researched the issue which concerned me and became more educated in the topic. Only then did I realize I’d magnified a situation, creating chaos within when it was not necessary. I had allowed an old fear to resurface and trigger a minor situation into something much larger, something it wasn’t.
How often has this happened to you? And if and when this occurs, can you feel the shift within? Do you find yourself off balance, reactive, and overly judgmental?
When we upset our inner peace, we also jostle how we deal with our surroundings, causing ripples of anxiousness, fear, anger, and other emotions to infiltrate our world. Minor issues become huge, and we tend to see the glass as half empty. Needless to say, this is not representative of our best selves. Because whenever we allow our ego to drive the bus, we better expect an extremely bumpy ride.
Taking the time to reflect on internal changes does wonders for the soul. Pausing to observe the root cause to our behavior is how we learn. It’s what propels us on our path, providing a clearer direction and unspoken words of encouragement.
The next time you notice a lack of peace within, search for the trigger. Then permit yourself to feel any corresponding emotions. Yet don’t allow yourself to remain stuck in these sensations. Appreciate the lessons then release them so can you return to equilibrium.
The more we take responsibility for our inner peace, the better we can impact the state of the world around us. Not only is it important to establish this balance in our own life, but it is also critical for the well-being of our family, friends, and community. If we each work on creating a bit more inner peace, no doubt our world will be a better place.