Peace of Mind Hard to Find?Doug Scavezze
Most of us are familiar with “peace of mind” and share this aspirational phrase as part of the human experience. We want to live in peace and have a fulfilling life. We can even go to great lengths to create it, whether moving to places where we believe it exists or cutting ties with people who we believe don’t support our personal peace.
Given the current state of the world and the war in Ukraine, it may feel like finding personal peace is somehow selfish or delusional. The reality is that conflict has always been part of the human experience, whether it’s with others or within us. By creating personal peace, we allow it to take root within ourselves and grow as we share it with others. In order for peace to exist, we must practice and live it consistently.
How can I create personal peace? What’s the process?
The truth is it’s different for each of us. The conflicts that exist within us are uniquely our own and the way to inner peace is through a distinctively personal journey.
In an article from Psychology Today, mental health expert Dr. Gregory L. Jantz outlines some things we can do to experience inner peace. Among these are: Making an inner peace plan, creating goals to aid in this process, and giving ourselves Mental Health days along the way.
As with many aspects of life we seek to change or improve, creating peace begins with the individual.
In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz talks about how just keeping the first two agreements (1- Be Impeccable With Your Word, 2- Don’t Take Anything Personally) can break the majority of the negative agreements we have with ourselves, holding us back from living a peaceful and fulfilling life. When talking about the second agreement, he states:
If you keep this agreement, you can travel around the world with your heart completely open and no one can hurt you. You can say, “I love you,” without fear of being ridiculed or rejected. You can ask for what you need. You can say yes or you can say no – whatever you choose – without guilt or self-judgment. You can choose to follow your heart always. Then you can be in the middle of hell and still experience inner peace and happiness. You can stay in your state of bliss, and hell will not affect you at all.
The agreements he is talking about is the information passed to us by our influencers and the outside world as children. They become our beliefs when we agree to them. These beliefs influence how we perceive and interact with the world. They impact our thoughts and how we process information. If we change these agreements, we change the way we think and, as a result, how we act. All of this impacts the level of personal peace we experience.
Our beliefs can influence us in many ways and our thoughts about these beliefs create our behaviors. To change our beliefs and behaviors we must be willing to change how we think too. This requires us to make a choice to become aware and open as we process, and think about, the information we receive.
So, what do we think about and why do we think the way we think?
Do you ever stop to ponder this and then go deeper into it?
(I didn’t want to say “think” again because that’s just too much thinking.)
It’s interesting how we can learn a piece of information from a source we trust, then hear something negative about the source, or even the person – if it’s a person, and then change our opinion of the information once we have this new information. We can definitely do this. Or, we can keep the same opinion, depending on our beliefs and perceptions. Sometimes, we react differently as we learn new information too. Look at what the website “The Oatmeal” has to say about this below…
Check out this to see how: https://theoatmeal.com/comics/believe
(Warning: This contains some profanity and mature content)
This is part of the challenge we experience in our world today. We hear a piece of information and then start to question the source, especially, if it contradicts our current beliefs and perceptions. The fact we question it isn’t inherently bad. We should question things and challenge their validity. We must avoid “group thinking” or blindly accepting information as true or real. We also must be willing to question why we think they way we think. Enter the term metacognition.
Metacognition is essentially: Thinking about how, why, and what we think. Nancy Chick, CFT Assistant Director at Vanderbilt University, states metacognition is:
More precisely, it refers to the processes used to plan, monitor, and assess one’s understanding and performance. Metacognition includes a critical awareness of a) one’s thinking and learning and b) oneself as a thinker and learner.
As we move through life, inevitably, we will encounter new information along the way. How we think and respond to it is based on who we are, or think we are, at the time we receive it. One of the challenges we run into is a term called cognitive dissonance. This is what we experience when we try to hold two opposing beliefs at the same time. For example, if I’m a smoker who knows smoking is bad for my health, or I lie to someone but believe I’m an honest person.
The struggle and possible resulting pain of experiencing cognitive dissonance can cause us to respond in many ways to new information. We may get very emotional, whether it’s anger or sadness or any other strong emotion. We may discount the information and be dismissive of it right away. We can dig in deeper, becoming more convinced of what we already believed. We may also, if we’re open and willing to objectively look at it, be willing to listen and see if there is something to learn from it.
Through practicing metacognition we can learn to step back and objectively look at new information, digest it, do our own research, and formulate our own insights. We learn how to learn and be open to learning. We let go of being afraid or “triggered” by what we experience and embrace what it can teach us about ourselves.
Considering the fact we have new information and choices coming at us, repeatedly, each day, why not try to understand and learn what we can from it in the process. Approaching it this way allows us to foster the idea of becoming expansive and growth-minded. As opposed to allowing fear or judgment to block us from experiencing someone or something that can have a profound positive impact on our life.
Approaching life like a scientist and being naturally curious or inquisitive opens up the space for life to be an educational and enlightening journey. As we encounter cognitive dissonance, through metacognition, we can better observe, understand, and acknowledge the internal struggle that is happening within us. We can adjust and make changes as needed to create our new form of normal as we evolve. This process will become perpetual and repeat as we grow throughout our lives. Each of us can learn and grow in profound ways, if we choose to allow life to teach us.
A major part of creating inner peace is allowing ourselves to surrender to this process. The path to peace will inevitably encounter conflict and challenges along the way. Life is meant to be lived. It will require us to feel uncomfortable, at times, and that’s also how we learn, grow, and truly live!
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. – Neale Donald Walsch