Peace is something the world is lacking at present. Since the 911 attacks in 2001, it appears the world has gone through a major shift in its resiliency and in its ability to sustain harmony. When the world is off its axis so, too, are our personal worlds–too often we find ourselves struggling to find and maintain the inner peace that helps us create meaning and purpose in our lives.
I remember studying existentialism in my first year of college. Even at that age I realized that my education, intentions, emotional stability, and psychological health were all dependent on maintaining inner peace and harmony. When I was out of sync with myself and the things that were happening in my life, the rest of my world was out of sync, too. I remember asking myself: “where can I go in this big world while ignoring the very essence of my inner being?” That was the moment I started taking my inner peace, faith, spiritual awareness, existential thoughts, and intuition seriously.
Since the mid- to late-19th century, existentialism has concerned itself with the paradoxes of human existence and subjective experience. It has explored the importance of humans having the free will to create the meaning in their lives that is needed to survive and feel “complete” in a world of incompleteness. In our daily lives, we may struggle to find the answers to big and small challenges, cope with the stress of the unknown, and manage the anxiety associated with living up to everyone’s expectations. Having to manage our intrapersonal anxiety and fear of what is coming next can seem like a big task–especially for those who suffer from depression, anxiety, emotional trauma (PTSD), or other mental health conditions. Once we can gain control over our anxiety and fear, however, we can move forward into our future feeling more secure, confident, and in control. This concept is known as interpersonal peace.
Here are a few suggestions I often make to those who see me for psychotherapy, consultations, or teaching assignments. They seem to be helpful for those who seek interpersonal peace and include:
- Identifying what makes you feel alive: Sometimes we are so busy going through the motions of life that we forget that a lot of what makes us feel burdened doesn’t have to stay in our lives.
- Readjusting your boundaries: Adjusting your boundaries should not only happen once in your life; it should be a process that happens repeatedly over time.
- Maintaining realistic expectations: Unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment. Looking at things from both an objective and subjective perspective can help you stay balanced.
- Walking away from limiting relationships: It’s okay to walk away from unhealthy relationships. There is no rule book that says you must stay in harmful relationships.
- Limiting the poison in your life: Consider your life to be like a garden–you don’t want to plant anything that will poison the garden. Seek to plant healthy seeds that are likely to grow.
I am of the firm belief that if we as humans stay connected to and maintain interpersonal and inner peace we can also contribute to international peace. We cannot sow healthy seeds in the larger garden of life until we begin to sow healthy seeds in our own lives.