It’s the last week before the kids go back to school, and admittedly, I couldn’t wait. Things were hectic. I love that summer affords me extra time to spend with my girls, but it does throw a wrench into my already-hectic schedule. Most of the time, they’re good sports about it, content to emerge themselves in my interests and decide what they like and dislike from the experience.

The past few weeks have been a bit more complicated than usual, however. I’ve had more business matters to attend to than I usually do during the summer months. Luckily, there’s always an exciting social engagement to look forward to. Unfortunately, they’ve been tinged with a little heaviness from world events as of late. All the snippets of things I hear and read during the day, when I can’t necessarily devote attention to them, come swirling back to mind at night. Sometimes I find myself in a rabbit hole of thoughts, wondering how to explain some of these heavy topics to my increasingly curious kids. Couple that with thoughts about what I need to do in relation to my business endeavors, what I need to get done for the kids for back-to-school, and what I need to get done around the house, and it can be a firestorm of stress and emotional tension.

It’s in times like these that I need to pump the breaks and take some precious moments for myself. I’m very transparent with the people around me when these situations arise and fortunately, they are understanding. From that point on, I’m free to focus on my inner peace.

Having established that inner peace is an important asset in our self-care toolkit, we must break it down to understand what are goals are and in turn, how we might achieve them.

Understanding Inner Peace

Despite having individualized concepts of what constitutes peace, there are some commonly understood factors that we’ve socially adopted into our understanding of peace: quiet, calm, balance, zen. What we are truly seeking out in our journey for inner peace are the components of clarity and of understanding. Stress and chaos exist to us in the absence of a clear route; of an understanding of a person, a situation, of yourself. However, it is in instances of stress and chaos that we most need these tools that we are striving for. The ultimate goal is to be able to have a reserve of inner peace so to speak, to have a bounty from which we can access when needed most.

Now that we understand what it is we’re looking for, let’s look at what we can do to achieve it.

1. Know what you can and cannot control. Part of what trips us up and leads us down a wrongful path is the idea that we can control everything around us if we just did more of this or less of that. One of the things that many religions and spiritual ideologies have in common is a notion that there are things that are beyond our control. Examine your own life and circumstances and consider areas that you are trying to exercise control. Question yourself on if you’re rightful in the assumption that there’s control for you to assert. The need to control clouds your vision and ushers in the negative emotions that disrupt our ability to reach clarity and understanding.

2. Develop a plan to align body and mind. The key to this is acceptance and understanding of yourself. The interconnectivity of body and mind is well documented. We’ve established that external chaos detracts from internal peace. Listen to your body and mind and decide what you can do for your body that will help you achieve acceptance of it. For example, while many believe that yoga and meditation are essential to aligning the body and mind. For some, that is the case, rendering these practices useful for them. Others attempt these exercises and find themselves frustrated at their inability to hold certain poses or engage their mind’s eye in certain visualization techniques. In criticizing yourself for your perceived shortcomings in these areas, you’re allowing negativity in and disrupting inner peace. It’s important to try different things and find the plan that works best for you.

Photo by Amy Treasure

3. Do not give others the power to detract from your inner peace. While establishing inner peace, learning how to preserve it is equally important. Examine the relationships in your life. Do some stick out as problematic? Toxic relationships are those that force you into a place of resistance, which is energy that can be spent constructively rather than destructively. Learn to let go of the people that feel it their place to define you or dictate your actions in any capacity.

4. Similarly, do not allow yourself to detract from your inner peace. Learning to let go of thoughts and patterns that do not serve you can be equally as challenging as letting go of outside forces that do the same. Still, you have to be mindful of the way you interact with yourself. Consider the ways in which you are not serving your best interests and make a plan to realistically deal with it. In doing this, you have to recognize your strengths and limitations and address them with thoughtfulness rather than further criticism. Gaining this understanding of yourself is crucial to establishing an inner peace that is sustainable.

As you continue to work on building up your inner peace, you will discover a lot about yourself and how you connect with those around you. Feel free to explore all of the areas you open up to yourself. Understand that it’s all within you and the most important thing is that the experience feels natural and intuitive to you. You will be able to build inner peace so strong, no external force can shake it.