Inner peace does not refer to the absence of conflicts around us or to a state of happiness or euphoria within us, but to a state of restfulness and a sense of fulfilment within us. When you are peaceful within, you are calm and strong in the face of adversity. You are able to bear stress and restore equilibrium after the storm has passed.
Same situation, different reactions
Many situations—political, social, interpersonal, financial and natural—impose problems of various levels on each of us. We all react to these situations with a lot of emotions, though in our own unique way. While some of us respond with great anxiety, stress and negativity to a problem, others remain calm, composed and positive in the same situation. When unexpected guests arrive, for instance, some women storm into the kitchen and feel stressed while wasting more than half the time in deciding the menu and crockery. On the other hand, some women think on their feet and dish out a good spread without feeling so anxious.
Why we react differently
We all have a predisposition of an emotional state within us, which makes us respond to situations in a particular way. This predisposition is a precipitate of our past experiences with people and situations around us. It decides how we feel about ourselves and how we rate ourselves with respect to others. It determines our level of inner peace to a great extent.
Our childhood experiences too play a great role in how stable we become as grown ups. If our upbringing has been healthy on the whole, we develop a solid combination of basic trust, self-esteem and love at the core of our psyche. We are then able to sail through adversities with our peace of mind intact and not fall apart. On the other hand, if we have faced intense negative experiences, whether imagined, exaggerated or real, in our growing up years, we lack the positively healthy psyche. We then always fear, experience criticism, loneliness and doubts. Such frailty of our internal world makes us very anxious in the face of adversities and we tend to lose our cool easily.
Enemies of peace
It is very difficult for human beings to cope with a loss of any kind—a person, someone’s love or trust, our identity or security, or simply the harmony around us. Loss of control over something important and loss of approval from an important person may shatter our world. Materialistic losses too put a whirlpool into our stable life.
Guiltmdash;conscious or unconscious—is more commonly present in our psyche than we could imagine. It is, most of the times, exaggerated and inappropriate. And we end up paying a heavy price for harbouring it. A lot of people operate on give and take of guilt. They always, either
feel guilty for something, or make others feel guilty about something. Feeling unnecessary guilt generally helps them feel at the centre of the issue, important and in-charge of the situation. Inducing unnecessary guilt in others help them feel that others are in their control.
In many cases, we lose our inner peace to some illogical beliefs we harbour. Our psychological make-up leads us into believing things that are beyond any logic. Someone might unconsciously believe that nothing bad can happen to him or her.
So, if such a person meets with an accident, besides the trauma of accident, s/he has to cope with the shattered belief—how come such a bad thing happened to me! Instead of focusing on the real issue, s/he may focus on the loss of belief. This could disturb the natural process of healing and affect inner balance for a long time.
Loss of inner peace shows
When our inner peace is disrupted, it shows. The symptoms vary from person to person. Some get depressed while others withdraw into a shell. They impose restrictions on their own happiness, success and health, and work in a very self-limiting way.
Sometimes the inner disturbance is so intense that we lack rational thinking and our potential gets consumed by the worries. People facing inner wars also suffer from vastly changed appetite and/or sleep. Sometimes it shows as excessive competitiveness, inferiority complex, phobias, mood swings, psychosomatic disorders or other personality problems.
Getting to the root
We meditate, attend talks on finding inner peace and read self-help books. They soothe us, calm us down, and make us feel good. However, in most cases, this restoration is temporary, and you find yourself struggling with self—stressed and tired. What happens to the restoration of peace? It fades away because the cause of the stress is still there.
We tend to focus on obtaining inner peace, but ignore the reason behind its loss. Perhaps, we avoid it because digging into our psyche can be painful. It is unpleasant to recall the hurts, fears or emotions that we have so conveniently suppressed.
Yes, it takes a lot of hard work, will power and honesty, and it may aggravate the stress for sometime. But there is no other way of restoring inner peace than to dig deep enough and focus on the root cause of our certain behaviour or thoughts that disturb us.
Reclaiming inner peace
Instead of focusing on “how to be happy”, we need to focus on “what keeps me from being happy”. Instead of focusing on “how dare he insult me like this”, we need to focus on “what is it about this insults that’s bothering me most”. Instead of focusing on “how to cure my stage fright”, we need to focus on “I am not my presentation. It’s ok to make mistakes”.
More often than not, venting out helps. You can also jot down what’s haunting your mind on paper or talk to someone about it [even to yourself in front of mirror]. Catharsis often prevents building up of stress. It helps you listen to your own thoughts, sort out the ways to go ahead and finally reclaim your inner peace.