Over two years ago, I wrote that I wanted to have a feeling of peace in my life. I wrote "Peace" down as one of my core desired feelings and discussed it in my post, "The 5 Surprising Words Changing My Life. " Last night, I realized how far I've come.

For most of my twenties, I've chosen to live a life threatened. I've felt threatened by sister-in-laws forming relationships with my mother-in-law. I've felt threatened by new team members at work knowing more than I did. I've even felt threatened by people speaking to my husband. I opted to feel this way because I was unsure of myself and wanted to be the "best" at everything. And anyone who could shake the facade of my perfection was a threat. I lived in fear and anger constantly and while I knew I wanted to be more peaceful, I was trapping myself in a world of bitterness towards others, fear of being found out, and pain from gripping perfection so tightly. 

Since writing that I wanted more peace,  I've had some crazy things happen. I've experienced debilitating loneliness, emotion-numbing addiction, and deep, full spectrum loss emotionally, financially, physically, and even materialistically. I've felt betrayed, confused, and bitter about my career and I had no idea who I was. In short, over the last three years, I've completely lost any facade of "being the best." There is no "best" when you've transitioned to a life of survival. 

Flash forward to now: I'm no longer in threatened or surviving mode... I'm no longer striving for the ultimate perfection. Instead, I strive for the best version of me- which is not threatened by trivial things or situations. The me who looks at new people and experiences as opportunities to learn instead of chances to fight or flight. The me who knows what it is like to lose almost everything and still have to stand up and face every day. 

Which brings me to last night. I heard some news about an acquaintance having an affair. In the past, this news would have really sent me into a tailspin of anger, bitterness, and judgment. In fact, I heard the exact same news about a different acquaintance three years ago and I flew into a fit of anger and resentment towards this person. When I heard the news last night, it was a night and day reaction. And here's why: 

When I was in perfection mode and feeling threatened by everything, the news rocked me because it showed how vulnerable my world truly was. The news made me feel threatened in my own relationships and brought to light some of my biggest fears and past pains. So I went ballistic in condemning and berating this person for their actions.  But as I've shed the shield of perfection, I've been able to see my own faults and fears more plainly. I've been able to be much more secure in my world without the fear of someone else toppling it by their actions. So when I heard the news again last night, I found myself trying to refrain from judgment and doing my best to offer peace and empathy over anger and hate. 

And it was last night in light of this news and these mirrored situations, that I realized how peace has finally found its way in my life. It took a complete demolishment of my external situations for me to realize that peace must come from your internal expectations. It comes from how you view yourself, the love you have for who you are, and the drive to be the best version of you- instead of the ambiguous and vague "best person." Peace comes from looking at how you view the world and having a knowledge of who you are and want to be. When you drop the pressure for perfection in work, relationships, etc., that's when a feeling of peace can rest happily on your shoulders.

So why share all this? Because I would hope that if you are also seeking some semblance of peace in your life, you won't have to lose everything and be torn down like I was. Instead, I believe you can start on a path of peace by doing the following things: 

  1. Look at the areas you feel threatened. What things, situations, or experiences make you angry or bitter regardless of them having anything to do with you? Explore those areas and your emotions to discover and understand your pain points and your areas of weakness. 
  2. Apply empathy. We don't know why some people make the choices they do but the same can be said for us. So when you're examining your pain points, try to apply empathy to the situation, the person who may be igniting your fears, and to yourself. Looking through a lense of kindness can help bring light to the darkest areas of our lives and help us find hope. 
  3. Refrain from judgment. Not just judgment of others but yourself as well. Don't judge your fears or areas of pain. Instead try to explore the reasoning why, how you reached this point, and if you want to change it. 
  4. Take pride out of the equation. Drop the facade of pride and take a hard look at what you are trying to cover up with pride. I agree that you can be proud of yourself and your accomplishments but boastful pride usually means you're hiding an insecurity. Take pride out of the equation to become more aware, open, and humble. 
  5. Forgive. No one purposefully makes life choices to make you miserable. We're all in the same boat, doing our best to live our lives. So when someone has wronged you look at why you've reacted how you have, apply empathy, refrain from judgment, don't let your pride get in the way, and forgive the person, the situation, and yourself.  

Finding peace in our lives can be a long, hard road and it's a constant thing to explore in our lives. When I wrote all those years ago that I wanted peace, I never would have guessed how it would have come to me and the rocky road that lied ahead. But I wouldn't change it for the world. I understand that things may not always be peaceful and I am a work in progress but I'm happy to have found peace, grateful to look at two similar situations to show me just how far I've come, and hopeful that my story can help you find peace in your own life.

You can hear an audio reading of this blog post on Happiness Abound, The Podcast- Episode 63. Subscribe to Happiness Abound, The Podcast on iTunes or GooglePlay and follow us on Facebook or Instagram

Photo by Sebastian Unrau on Unsplash