Most of us seek an increased sense of calmness, serenity and inner peace. We would like less chaos, stress and conflict with people, situations and our selves. At times we may feel restless, irritable and bothered by something we may not actually be able to name.
What is this internal conflict about?
This inner struggle is usually associated with an outer conflict.
At times one is asked to decide amongst two or more paths or choices. This struggle sometimes involves someone overcoming his/her own nature and thus, one hesitates, avoids, and even fears, countering the usual ways.
We live for the most part in a dualistic world – good and bad, right and wrong, always and never. These opposites or polarities challenge our living in peace.
Psychologically, we call this holding the tension of opposites.
A part of us wants to do the usual, the familiar, and what protects Ego; yet, another part may whisper another way – the higher road, the challenging and unfamiliar action, and the one that will be the better choice. This new way, integrates shadow material – counters our old usual ways.
In these moments, we are wrestling with our selves – the antithesis of inner peace! And yet, if we become conscious of the wrestlers, this can lead to inner peace.
As in the biblical story of Jacob wrestling with an angel, he is in fact, wrestling with himself – confronting his own guilt and anxiety for past actions. In the end, he was blessed when he asked for (in order to identity) the name of the part of him that his Ego was psychically struggling with. He could have defended his former (deceptive, trickster) ways, however; ‘blessings’ came when he actually acknowledged his range of human (and often, not so flattering!) traits.
We also may be wrestling with past choices and actions that continue to ‘take up space’ in our minds. These psychic cobwebs need to be cleared out or they will continue to haunt us. They are the baggage in our psychological and emotional attics and cellars. In 12-step programs, Step 4 (Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.)asks one to acknowledge (identify and name, as Jacob did) our resentments, angers, fears and guilts.
If we still hold negative energy around people and situations this influences our current state of mind, how we view others, self, and the world, and contributes in a caustic way to how we behave.
What to do?
- Be mindful of when you are irritable or ‘off’.
- Perhaps there is a decision you are making or have recently (or from the past) made (that is not sitting ‘right’ with you)?
- Identify the parts of self wrestling or at conflict.
- What part has the better (more integral, albeit perhaps challenging) option
- Carry out the decision (see previous article on “Making the Next Best Choice”) or if it is already done, forgive, make amends, etc.
When we choose wisely, we can feel it. We let out a sigh, sit up straighter, get better sleeps, and smile contently to our selves. We did it! We apologized, we held the door open, we got off the couch, and we did what we truly intended to do. Living with integrity helps create inner peace.
Other indicators of inner peace include:
- a tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than on fear-based past experiences
- an unmistakeable ability to enjoy each moment
- a loss of interest in judging other people and interpreting their actions
- a loss of interest in conflict and winning
- a loss of the ability to worry
- frequent overwhelming times of gratitude and appreciation
- frequent smiling
- feelings of connecting with others and nature
- an increasing tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen
- an increasing ability to see others with compassion
What is getting in the way of your inner peace? Identify which of these statements are lacking. What would create the better likelihood of the statement happening? (e.g., more compassion and gratitude, less having to win, etc.). What traits or beliefs in yourself prevent you from being what is asked? What psychic cobwebs need to be cleared?