Sunday, January 15, 2017

Making Peace Within

In order to create peace in our world we must create peace within ourselves. That is easier said than done, of course. We live in a culture of hurry and compete and blame and anger and hate and . . Well you know. The secret, of course, is to identify our needs and how those are being met.

But the first thing we can do is to cultivate compassion for ourselves. We've been raised to be self-critical, to measure our worth against that of others, to please others instead of ourselves. So take some time to listen to your self-talk. That can tell us how we are treating the inner self.

When you come up against your own limitations, do you value yourself less? Do you lose respect for yourself because you aren't "more"? Or can you accept that everyone has limitations, that you can make a mistake and use that as a learning experience? What do you say to yourself - or sometimes to others about yourself - when you make a  mistake? Do you make yourself feel guilt or shame rather than step back and look at the experience objectively? How can you be more compassionate toward yourself? Listen to what you tell yourself and imagine someone saying the same thing to your child to shame them. You don't want them talking to your child that way so don't talk to yourself that way.

How often do you judge yourself as "good" or "bad."? And how do you feel when you do it. Do you ever hear yourself saying "I'm a bad parent/friend/spouse" because of some behavior. Look behind that judgement to discover what need wasn't being met by the behavior. Then you can go to the root of the behavior and change it with something that meets your needs. Maybe you "blew up" at your spouse and decide you did it because you are a bad spouse. Instead, identify the need you had that wasn't being met. Perhaps you need help with some chore and transferred that into hurt, anger, or frustration. Acknowledge your need and let yourself express it more clearly. and with less anger.

So you blew up. You feel bad that you did that. Mourn that regret without blame or guilt. There was a good reason that you did it - your need. You have learned from the experience. Let it go and move on.

Don't should on yourself! The word "should" creates unnecessary pain. If you must make a statement like that, exchange the word "should" for "it would be better if". 

"Let us be glad of the dignity of our privilege to make mistakes,glad of the wisdom that enables us to recognize them, glad of the power that permits us the power to turn their light as a glowing illumination long the pathway of our future. Mistakes are the growing pains of wisdom. Without them there would be no individual growth , no progress, not conquest.
---William Jordan

Above all, make peace with past "failures". Mourn them and let them go. Value them for what you learned. Make room inside you for what is joyful and alive. You may have to clean out all those old hurts and guilt and shame to make room for inner peace. And it is worth doing.

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