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According to the United Nations (UN), nearly one billion people worldwide deal with mental health issues. Experts have tried to pinpoint the reasons, with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) blaming a combination of childhood trauma, medical factors, biological brain imbalances, alcohol or drug use, and emotions.
In layman’s terms, it could all boil down to a lack of inner peace.
The Bible defines inner peace as peace achieved in communion with God through Jesus Christ. To Buddhists, it is “an awakening to an ultimate inseparability between our own well-being and happiness and that of others, which inspires us to make an effort to gratify the basic needs of all and promote our freedom and justice and that of others equally.” For Oprah Winfrey, it’s all about joy.
Regardless, we know we all deserve inner peace, and if you’ve been finding it elusive all this time, maybe change is in order – a change in your thought patterns, habits, and beliefs. After all, if it’s inner peace you’re looking for, it can only come from you. Here are five signs you could be sabotaging your own inner peace, and all the reasons to stop:
You worry too much
Worrying is part of human nature and proof that we set ourselves to specific standards and principles in life. It also keeps us on our toes and helps in our quest for self-improvement. Other times, it simply means we care about our jobs, relationships, health, etc.
Worrying is good in a way, but when we worry too much, we know that something else is happening. Excessive worrying and harboring negative thoughts are stressful, and chronic stress puts a greater demand on our bodies to cope.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health website, chronic stress increases our need for oxygen, energy, and nutrients. It disrupts sleep and even causes central adiposity because of the increased secretion of cortisol, our primary stress hormone that favors belly fat formation.
Worrying takes so much from us, yet it does not change a thing. The resulting frustration, insecurities, and self-doubt can lead us to self-destructive behavior and sap our inner peace.
If you are constantly anxious about things, see if you can do something about them. Actions have a far better chance of improving situations than worrying or engaging in self-criticism can. If the cause of your worry is beyond your control, let go of it. Shun your inner critic, bombard yourself with self-affirmations, and slowly rebuild your inner peace.
You care too much about others’ opinions
More than a decade ago, scientists established the neural basis for our tendency to appreciate the world around us based on other people’s opinions. It’s normal and even healthy for us to listen to others, but when we listen to them to the point of drowning our own voice, we could have a problem.
Remember that self-expression is a fundamental human need. Stifling our ability to be heard for what we really think, not for what others dictate, leads to repressed emotions. Even if you keep pushing your feelings back, they will continue to seek release in other areas of your life, sometimes through self-sabotaging behaviors such as overeating and procrastination.
In simple terms, always putting other people above your own happiness creates disharmony in your inner being and, therefore, your inner peace.
You don’t take care of your body
The connection between mind and body is well-known. The body is also the vessel through which we experience everything. When we care for our vessels, we care for our inner peace.
Caring for the body is a three-pronged approach to achieving inner peace. First, we nourish it through the food we eat. While we usually eat for pleasure or energy, food directly impacts how we think and feel, so we need to be more conscious about what we eat and not just the satisfaction of eating.
Second, we take care of our bodies through regular physical exercise. Time and time again, we hear people saying exercise makes them feel good. This is caused by feel-good hormones such as endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and the rest. Beyond that, exercise keeps our body systems in tip-top shape, including our brain’s limbic system, the seat of our emotions and behavioral responses.
Third, good hygiene is essential to a healthy mental disposition, although this can be your classic chicken-or-egg argument. While we tend to say we feel better after cleaning up – for example, when we shower at night after a long day of work – experts say it could be the other way around.
While not formally listed as a symptom, poor hygiene or self-care is viewed as an indirect effect of depression caused by the person’s lack of energy and motivation. It can also be the first yet most ignored aspect of conversations about this condition.
Apparently, the body doesn’t only affect the mind but is intertwined with it. When there is peace in the body, there is peace in the mind.
You’re always busy
In a 2022 randomized clinical trial, researchers discovered that reducing stress through mindfulness activities was as effective against anxiety disorders as escitalopram, a first-line medication for the mental condition.
If mindfulness works for people with full-blown anxiety disorders, from fear of failure to fear of long words, it can help anyone.
Two common examples of mindfulness practices are meditation and breathing exercises. While these are very easy, busy people rarely have time to connect with themselves, leading to a lack of self-awareness.
If you don’t know yourself well enough, how can you know your needs, much less how to meet them? Your lack of answers to these questions – simply because you’re too preoccupied with other things – can undermine your well-being, personal growth, and, ultimately, your inner peace.
You’re terrified of confrontations
Wise people are careful and avoid trouble; fools are too confident and careless. This proverb may partly explain why many people fear confrontations, especially with loved ones. They may be afraid of a potential breakup with their partner, or they may have a fear of abandonment in the family.
But confrontation can be healthy when it is the only reasonable way to resolve a conflict. On the other hand, habitually avoiding it is self-defeating and can lead to repressed feelings, just as stifled self-expression does. If we must let the world hear our opinions, we must let them feel our emotions too.
After all, nothing hurts our inner peace more than masked feelings, which often lead to overthinking and negative self-talk. It’s important to understand that our emotions are actually there for a reason. Anger, for example, is a defense mechanism that protects us from harm. Anger and fear work as warning signs of potential danger.
Repressing these emotions can erode our inner compass, which plays a vital role in our inner peace. Staying in our comfort zones then becomes a form of self-sabotage in this scenario.
Your Inner Peace, Your Power
Image by Monstera by Pexels
The world is filled with noise, but we always have the power to keep the quiet within us. We will get distracted, but we can take a proactive stance by staying on guard for potential threats to our inner peace.
Whether those threats come from childhood trauma, an abusive partner, or life in general, we all stand a chance at overcoming them and living a life of calm and serenity. All it takes is a conscious decision to love ourselves and never allow anyone or anything to push us off track.
How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.