How To Find Inner Peace
By Kevin Sinclair
The path to inner peace is not simple or short. You cannot just wake up one day and decide you are going to have inner peace from that point forward. It is a process, a journey that needs to be appreciated every step of the way. You need to be willing to let go and accept your full spectrum of emotions. You need to be ready to step outside the box you have allowed yourself to be put into and start from scratch, getting to know yourself all over again and be willing to make mistakes. And most importantly, you have to realize that only you have control over your emotional responses and reactions and they can be changed for the better.
No one article or even one book is going to give you the answers to achieving inner peace. What they can do is assist you in initiating change within yourself by bringing light to something you were not previously aware of. Once you become aware of ways you can improve how you live your life, you can begin true transformations. These transformations are paradigm shifts or evolutions of the mind, spirit and soul. Once you really change your ways to be in alignment with your true self, you will never go back, just like a tadpole to a frog or a caterpillar to a butterfly.
Often, people live within a false sense of inner peace. The saying “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what a ship is for!” is an example of this. If you live your life in “the harbor” and never go out of your comfort zones, then you will be misleading yourself into believing you have harmony within. You need to be willing to experience a full range of emotions and face some challenges on the path to getting to know yourself through others and your experiences.
Offloading Your Emotional Baggage
Everyone has a certain amount of emotional baggage they carry with them everywhere. The idea of finding inner peace is to offload this baggage so you can feel light, healthy, vibrant, free and maybe one day even enlightened. What is emotional baggage? It comes in many forms and some examples could be shame for past deeds, judgments towards others, being victimized, being abused, guilt for past mistakes, distorted beliefs about yourself and others, insecurities and body image problems. Every person is unique in their genetics and socialization. Add to that unique experiences through life and we get complex individuals who bounce of each other every which way they turn, sometimes positive, sometimes negative.
The secret to clearing your issues is to take your ship out of the harbor and interact with others. This is a vital part of learning about yourself. If you have ever heard one important thing to remember in your life on this earth, remember this: Anything you see in others, you have in yourself also and any judgment you make towards another, is really about you. This applies to both “good” and “bad” things you recognize.
An example of what this means is if you react in anger towards someone who is crying, having no compassion for their situation, it could be you are angry with yourself when you get sad, seeing it as week and don’t ever allow yourself to cry. When you refuse to accept something in yourself, you also will not accept it in others.
Another example, a teenager comes home from school and tells her mother a crude joke she heard about drug addiction. The mother immediately goes into a rage and yells at her to go to her room and that she is grounded. Mum stands there shaking, and angry that her buttons have been pressed. She had a brother who was a drug addict and they had never told her children about him. She never spoke about him and never dealt with the issues around the subject. When she reacted to her daughter that way, it was all her own anger and issues about the situation and nothing to do with her daughter.
We need to start looking at the way we react to people and to situations. We need to work on smoothing these “buttons” we all have everywhere, because you can’t find inner peace if you are constantly judging yourself and others. This is process of learning and being willing to admit to yourself and others when you are wrong. This is a cure way to learn a lot about yourself very quickly!
Once you open your self to the truth there will be no going back. The idea is simple – if you don’t have the emotion, thought, trait, personality in you that you are seeing in others, you would not recognize it in someone else. We see someone make a face and because we make that face when we eat something sour, we presume they are also experiencing the feeling of eating something sour. This is not the case – this judgment projects from our mind like a movie of our own experiences played on cue for any situation, and we aren’t even aware we’re doing it. Use your interactions to better yourself and grow in your compassion for others through realizing your own faults and problems.
There is more good news - you can also own your admirations. This means all the things you admire or maybe are even jealous of in others, you have in yourself also. Maybe you have always admired the guy next door for his ease on the basketball court, yet he practices every day and disciplines himself. You know deep down if you did that too, you could be just as good. You can choose to realize this is where your jealousy comes from, and use it to change yourself through your new self awareness or sit around in bitterness and jealousy, denying your own undeveloped talents.
Another example is women who make comments about other women’s clothes. Often they are really the most insecure ones of all. Instead of feeling in competition, they need to deal with their own issues as to why they feel a person’s clothes have anything to do with the person themselves. Do they think their clothes make them a better person, and if so, why?
Letting Go of Control
You will have to let go of control to find inner peace. This is control you have over any one in your life and control over life itself. One thing you can’t do if you want peace, is give anyone else power over your feelings. When you try to control someone, ultimately they are controlling you. If you feel you need to monitor someone’s every move, or have them be with you all the time, you are really restricting yourself to the same. You have to develop trust and let go of fear.
If you feel scared, accept it for what it is, a harmless yet uncomfortable emotion. No big deal and when you’ve overcome it a few times, it becomes easy. Never say “You make me feel so angry/sad/frustrated!” because you are choosing to feel those things and what someone else does with their life should not impact on you. It is about developing emotional intelligence and allowing people to live their life without being responsible for your reactions.
Trust those who say they love you and trust every interaction you have. Don’t be trying to read into things, there’s no point. What other people think is none of your business and you will never be guaranteed to work it out, so just let it go. This won’t happen in a day, but keep working on yourself. Any time you catch yourself wondering what someone says or thinks about you when you’re not around, just make a point to change your mind to something else. If you keep doing it, you will re-train your mind, and before you know it, you will be free from the opinions of others.
Fear for some reason has been applied to so many situations in our time. Fear is actually an adrenalin response to a situation we instinctually feel the need to flee from. Anxiety, stress or worry are not fear. You may be worried about going out in crowds, you may be anxious about the promotion interview and you may feel stressed about going by yourself, but you aren’t afraid. Acknowledge these emotions when they arise, let them know they are justified, then continue with your plans.
Rest assured that the more times you continue, regardless of the feelings, they will soon fade away. An example is a lady who hasn’t dated for five years and someone she knows and trusts has set her up on a blind date. Initially she is very excited and as the time draws near, she begins to tell herself she is too afraid and can not go through with it. She ends up phoning her friend for the mans number, lying to her friends, then calling the man to tell him she has become suddenly ill and can't go. If she just said to herself “yes this is difficult and I AM nervous, but I can do it anyway and anyone would be nervous in this situation, it’s just human.” What is the worst that can happen? Maybe she will sound or look nervous, but that’s not bad and no where near as rude as canceling at the last minute.
Denial is like a disease that spreads through the minds of you and your friends. Like attracts like and you can bet your friends are more like you than you realize. So many groups or circles support each other’s denials, which inhibits personal growth. An example is those who work in the wine industry. Many are serious alcoholics and if you ever go to a dinner party with them, you will see they all talk about how much they haven’t been drinking, yet they drink every day. They excuse each other’s binges and quickly try to change the subject if anyone brings up drinking too much. Then there are the ones who openly joke about being alcoholics together, bragging about their experiences. They are all stumbling blocks to each other and they are supporting each other in their denial.
We Can Only Change Ourselves
Why would anyone want to bother with all this inner peace stuff? To end the cycle of ups and downs, emotions popping up when you don’t want them too, interactions with others become diplomatic and helpful and you will be able to experience an inner calm and confidence that words can not describe. You will no longer have petty conversations that are full of gossip and bragging, but will begin to talk about ideas and events that are interesting and positive. What you put out, you really get back in life. So if you think and feel negatively towards others, you will think and feel negative about yourself as well.
The time old saying “Mind your own business” is based in wisdom. We can only change ourselves and it is not for us to judge the way anyone else lives their lives. As we have already discussed, any judgment we make is actually really related to ourselves anyway. Don’t waste precious time or energy on what others are doing with their lives, and learn not to take anything personally.
Whenever someone makes a decision as to how they spend their own time or energy, it is their decision to make, so don’t go sticking your nose in where it isn’t wanted and don’t think it is all about you. There is no way you can know the repercussions of your advice of judgments towards others, so keep your lips sealed even when the urge seems overwhelming to give your opinion. It is not your place, and unless you have been overcome with some phenomenal amount of wisdom and perfectionism straight from the heavens, you don’t have the answers and shouldn’t act like you do.
Meditation and Inner Peace
Meditation is very important part of finding inner peace. Mediation is not only relaxation, it is a way of living. When you meditate as a form of relaxation, you access areas of your mind which are normally hidden behind everyday thoughts and memories. You are able to clear away all the petty thoughts and get to your deeper subconscious mind to deal with what arises. This can help to fast track your road to inner peace, as it relaxes and vitalizes you physically, emotionally and mentally and reconnects you spiritually.
Also see: Meditation Techniques: What to do BEFORE You Meditate
You can also meditate in your every day life. There is an art to being able to live in the moment and there is an old Buddhist saying that you may have heard. It goes “Before enlightenment, carry water, chop wood - after enlightenment, carry water, chop wood”. The difference is the state of mind and inner peace. Before enlightenment, you would do every day tasks with your mind racing through thoughts and memories. You would be thinking about yesterday and tomorrow and be unaware of the beauty of the moment. You could even be annoyed that you have to do the task at hand.
After enlightenment, you would be in the moment, your mind free and peaceful as you are in a consistent state of satisfaction, regardless of where you are and what you are doing. In this way, if you first begin to become aware of the thoughts you have while trying to be in the moment, you will be able to release or confront each issue and continue to work towards a clear mind and relaxed body. The goal is to be totally involved in the task at hand without prejudice.
Self-acceptance is important and you have to remember not to be hard on yourself. We are all here on this earth learning and growing everyday. When you first begin to open your eyes and become more self aware, you may start to feel a newfound sense of shame, embarrassment, defiance or inadequacies. This is a good thing. The first step to healing is to see the problems and issues you have. Then you are in a place where you can work from. Be willing to embrace your faults and realize these are your issues to overcome so you can experience personal growth. Going through life thinking you are perfect is not the way to learn anything and it is through hard times, trials and challenges that you really grow. Be prepared to throw yourself into situations where you will make mistakes, as you will probably learn the most about yourself.
Consider taking the time to write a list of the things you fear most in life. Then seriously consider ways you can work towards confronting and overcoming those fears. You should add to your list as you become more self aware, because you will have more realizations as to who you are and what you can work on overcoming. Some examples might be if you are scared of certain emotions in others, you can not accept compliments, you can’t give compliments, you are uncomfortable with affection, spending time alone, climbing ladders, cats, dogs, etc., etc.
When writing the list, look deeply at your reactions to situations and remember fear isn’t just felt as fear and is often disguised as anger. A perfect example is the mother who can’t find her child for a few minutes. A dread comes over her and when she does find him or her, she reacts in an angry way and yells at him or her for walking away. Its an over reaction and is not a true expression of her emotions. The fear remains suppressed and unacknowledged, so will only be amplified next time a similar situation arises.
You have to be willing to be honest with yourself and others. If you can’t be honest, you will be unable to find synchronicity in your life. Imagine you were studying a night course at college and you were really struggling with an assignment you had due very soon. You were too embarrassed to ask anyone in your class for help and were, instead, struggling to try to make sense of your research. Just by chance, you happen to bump into your lecturer at the supermarket and he asks you how you are doing on your assignment. Because you feel weak and ashamed to admit you need help, you say â€œfine thanksâ€, change the subject and rush off. If you were honest and said you were really struggling with this one, he would probably say come by and see me and we will go over it and see if you can find a way to understand it better. It is so important to always be in your truth and not be ashamed of who you are or what others might think, as it can hold you back in your quest for inner peace.
A Time for Reflection
Give yourself time to reflect on your personal growth. If you never get quiet times to meditate and let what is on your mind come to the surface, your mind will become very busy with thoughts that are yet to be dealt with. Think of it as a regular maintenance for your mind and spirit, whether its an hour a day or a day a week, you have to give yourself that gift to maintain your health.
You need to recognize and constantly remind yourself that material things do not bring true happiness. Any happiness you do get is short lived and superficial. You need to be able to be at peace with yourself with only what you need to survive and see everything else as a bonus, without becoming attached to it. The old saying â€œyou canâ€™t take it with youâ€ is good to remember.
The reason you canâ€™t just decide to have inner peace is that, no matter how hard you try, if you havenâ€™t done the work to clear your baggage and resolve your issues, they will come back to haunt you. You may be able to go a day or a week or even a couple of months feeling as though you are at peace, but your suppressed emotions and thoughts will erupt and probably at a time when you least want them to.
Decide today to let go of your ego, have a good constructive look at yourself and your life and choose to a start learning from others. It is the journey not the destination that is the most enjoyable and valuable. Once you begin to work on the path to inner peace, you will find you want to continue evolving and transforming for the rest of your life.
Also see: Steps to Quiet the Chaotic Mind