I recently was asked to write a forward to a book about peace called #Peace - A New Perspective of Hope. I was honoured to do so because I know inner peace is what we strive for when we enter the therapy context so that we can actually have a good quality of life.
Living without peace is like being a frog put in a pot of cold water atop a hot stove that is unknowingly slowly boiling to death. The frog sits there quite unaware of its fate since it keeps adjusting to the temperature, not fully realizing the impending doom that awaits it. Like the adaptable frog in water, we tend to normalize chaos if that is what we grew up with.
When I think about having inner peace, I think of having the emotional freedom from the enslaving emotions of fear, guilt, shame and rage. These emotions are learned and metabolized as normal often in family-cultures that are dysfunctional. From these, a person is forced to develop a "false self" as a way of surviving and coping.
There are many versions of what the false self may be, but all of them contribute to robbing a person of inner peace. For example (and this is just one example), the family-culture might have taught that it's important to please everybody; placing the self-care instinct way down on the totem pole of priorities. Pleasing everyone else becomes the "disease-to-please" as an instinctual way of being and all boundary setting impulses give way to a kind of zombie like obligation feeling to meet everyone else's needs over your own.
However, when a person lives and operates from the disease-to-please, I observe that the pattern lands the person feeling deep resentment and depression as well as profound lack of inner peace.
There is plenty of evidence showing that living in a constant state of emotional turmoil that is, in a constant state of lack of inner peace, will compromise a person's immune system as well as their mental health.
As a psychotherapist with a holistic sensibility, in private practice since the early '90's, I observe that people living without a sense of inner peace or without a road map to get there are robbed of hope, trust and faith. Which deteriorates their resilience to life's turmoil and tough lessons. They come at life ungrounded and out of touch with what truly makes them happy and peaceful.
I also notice that urban modern living has promoted a type of addiction to activity, chaos, achievement and yes there is that media vetted glorification of drama! For a person to find their inner peace, they need to actually go about the process of dismantling their overly enmeshed relationship to busyness, chaos, future worrying and past obsessing and this requires lots of practice and inner discipline. This is the only way to rewire the deep neural pathways associated with that old way of being.
Many tell me that living in a peaceful state is so foreign to them that they literally begin feeling an overwhelming sensation of boredom, fear, unease and sometimes even depression and anxiety when their life becomes peaceful. It is not uncommon for a client to look at me with a horrified and annoyed expression as I introduce simple mindful slow breathing exercises. Many are also very impacted by their inner FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) battle cry as they begin the journey toward balance and peace!
Yet the road to true joy and happiness begins with having more inner peace. To that end I encourage my clients and readers to deeply observe their pattern of constantly looking for the next shiny thing to keep them stimulated or the next "other person's" problem to keep them in chaos. These are major avoidance tactics from actually dealing with the self.
What I have observed is that finding inner peace involves the pursuit of your self-culture. This is your authentic, instinctive self that brings on a deep sense of self-knowing, self-care and a habit of filling your own cup first and giving to others only from the overflow. Having self-culture brings on a deep self-compassion and self-acceptance.
Through this you are able to breakdown resentment, anger, shame and all the emotional afflictions that rob you of peace. You are also doing your part to stop multi-generational dysfunction dead in its tracks. And let me emphasize, self-culture and inner peace do not come without drawing gentle but clear boundaries, which requires that you know what is OK for you and what is not. This is also the road to peaceful relationships with others. In fact I think the kindest, most compassionate and peaceful people are those that are in touch with what is OK for them and what is not.
The true and profound richness of life begins when you stop long enough to slow your breathing down so you can experience a "felt" sense of peacefulness which then makes your deep, inner, authentic voice (your self-culture) louder in your mind than all other voices in the mix.
The planet needs the real you, and it is time that you began that journey! The pursuit of self-culture is a hard one for many of us in the face of what we may have learned from our family-cultures, and I have unlimited compassion for those who embark on this path.
I want to emphasize that the quest for your self-culture is not a narcissistic, selfish, futile, self-indulgent pursuit. It is vital to your well-being as well as the planet's, due to the peace that emerges from that pursuit. You can only serve those you love and the planet better when you know who you are and are at peace with yourself.
The journey to peace is a profound, and at times arduous, look within. The result will be an emerging self that you will treasure, savour and protect and the planet will gain a being that is loving, compassionate and generous. These are the elixirs for true peace and the alchemy to maintain ongoing peace .
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