“Finding” Inner Peace

Finding inner peace is not a passive activity. No one will bring it to you. You can’t wish it alive. You must create inner peace. It’s not an easy task nor is it a one-and-done type of deal either. Creating inner peace is an active, conscious and consistent lifetime of living eyes and heart wide open, transparent, honest with yourself and others type of deal.

Everything has its equal and opposite. There is no sweet without bitterness, no gain without effort, no love without hate and no peace without pain. To truly comprehend and appreciate the essence of who you are, a compassionate, loving and divine being here to experience all the bitterness and joy of the human experience, you must fully integrate how you came to be who you are and where you are today, practice daily living honestly and purposefully and take responsibility for your results.

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The three conscious actions of developing self-awareness, practicing personal integrity and taking personal accountability will make you a conscious creator of your life, clearing a path for the fulfillment of your desires and will determine your success as you take inspired and purposeful action.

Let your first actions, while easier said than done, be to let go of expectations, perfectionism and putting everyone else first.

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Healthy Relationship Checklist

These are just some of the things I believe are required to find, create and sustain mature, healthy intimate relationships:

  • Heal from past traumas

  • Practice forgiveness of self and of hurts inflicted upon you

  • Create a safe space for open and honest communication

  • Know your triggers

  • Set and respect clear boundaries

  • Set relationship expectations and intentions

  • Have a shared value system (total opposites may attract but may not be able to be sustained)

  • Be willing to be vulnerable

  • Continue your personal development work

  • Practice self-care

  • Practice active and compassionate listening

  • Understand that what people say, do, think and feel has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them

  • Practice unconditional love

  • Practice self-acceptance

  • Be humble (accept that you don’t know everything and that inherent in relationships is learning and growth)

  • Have a support system outside of the relationship

  • Honor your emotions

  • Commit to empowering your partner to be self-expressed

  • Be willing to understand and appreciate your partner’s perspectives, ideas, and opinions

  • Periodic evaluation of the relationship to ensure you both still both want the same things

  • Separate consciously and lovingly when you are no longer able or willing to fulfill the others’ needs

Expectations are not a source of suffering

There’s a belief floating around that having expectations is a cause of suffering. Well, I disagree and here’s why I think everyone needs to have more expectations.

  • Having expectations means you have a standard for yourself and anything that falls below it will not be accepted.

  • Having expectations means you know yourself well enough to know what you will accept or reject.

  • Having expectations means that you are confident enough in yourself that nothing can sway you from achieving your ideal.

In my opinion, the real cause of suffering is harboring wrong expectations.

What are wrong expectations?

1. Wrong expectations are based on beliefs created from faulty conditioning and programming.

In my transformational coaching work around expanding self-awareness and living with intention, I help people understand themselves better through self-reflection work to find the root causes of the blocks preventing them from having the quality of life they want. Inevitably, these blocks are formed by early conditioning and programming from parents, teachers, media, other environmental factors and emotional trauma.

2. Wrong expectations are those dependent upon other people to fulfill in order for you to be happy.

Many people often harbor expectations of how other people should live, what they should eat, how they should behave or believe, how they should speak or look, where they should live, what kind of car they should drive. It’s common sense that we cannot control others, nor can we always control our external environment, so why do some people insist on making themselves miserable by expecting their external environment to mold to their expectations?

I believe the solution to creating right expectations is really very simple and learning to create or have right expectations is a process; a process that first requires self-reflection on a very deep level.

The kind of self-reflection required is one that exposes our prior conditioning and programming and helps us make the connection between that programming and how we behave, what we believe, and who we are today.

For example, if you struggle with relationships, one thing you can do is reflect on the things you learned about relationships in your past starting with childhood. It’s important to go back to your earliest memories because during childhood is when those emotional connections around what we believe about ourselves and our place in the world were formed.

Learning takes many forms so reflect back on things you heard, witnessed or were expressly taught. Another important step in this reflection process is to also reflect on how what you learned or were taught made you feel. Often, during intense emotional situations, we subconsciously make decisions about what we are experiencing and those decisions determine how we behave or what we believe in our adult life.

Once you’ve reflected back on the things you learned about relationships (replace relationships with whatever you struggle with most in your adult life), next ask yourself how the beliefs you have around relationships or money or food or sex or love are serving you today. If they aren’t serving you, then you must find a way to invalidate them. A very simple way is to ask whether that belief is true or not.

For example, it’s not true that all men are jerks or that all women are emotional.

Attempting to invalidate a belief is one way to bust invalid beliefs. What you may have believed as a child may no longer be a truth for you today and yet it has been those subconscious beliefs created in childhood that have been driving your behavior and causing you to struggle in your relationships (career, finances, health, etc.).

Using hypnotherapy is a great tool to help your subconscious reveal deep-seated beliefs, when they were formed, what experience created them as well as to release them so you can adopt more positive, supportive beliefs. Hypnotherapy is a process of connecting with the subconscious to bring awareness to the most important part of ourselves; the part the drives how and who we be in the world.

Part one of the solution is exposing false beliefs. Once you have exposed false beliefs, it’s very important to maintain awareness when you are triggered in order to prevent new false beliefs from taking root and you can do that by becoming an observer.

Part two of the solution is becoming the observer. The observer is the impartial you, the unattached you, the questioning you.

Simply defined, an observer watches or notices. As the observer, you are responsible only for watching or noticing your own thoughts and reactions. We have hundreds, even thousands of thoughts and reactions every single day depending on the stimuli we are exposed to.

We get stimulated by our work, in our relationships, by what we see on tv, what we hear in passing and the words we read. Any one of those things can trigger us into feelings of happiness, joy, sadness, anger, frustration, humiliation, disappointment, overwhelm, and the list goes on.

Learning how to observe your thoughts and feelings, rather than detach from them, attach to them or be defined by them is paramount to maintaining self-awareness and creating and having right expectations.

I recommend reading The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer for more on becoming the observer.

What are right expectations?

1. Right expectations are based in self-awareness and self-knowledge.

2. Right expectations are based in self-love.

3. Right expectations are those dependent only upon you fulfilling in order for you to be happy.

The only expectation I have of myself is to grow; to recognize when I’m being triggered, to investigate the root cause of those triggers and to not allow myself to be taken out of a place of peace and right intentions.

I challenge you to take a fresh look at your expectations. Are they based in ego? Are they based on a need to prove something or seek revenge? Do you have expectations dependent on other people or your external environment?

Expecting other people to behave, do, say, live, speak, or look how you think they should rather than focusing on yourself and what will make you happy will only lead to misery because, as we all know, you cannot control other people. When you let go of the need to control your external environment, your life will become much more peaceful and positive.

Healing comes in unexpected packages

How vulnerable do I give myself permission to be? That was the question that opened the floodgates. I was on my ½ hour scheduled call with my wealth coach and I was discussing my next steps around putting myself out there to deliver value to my future clients and the subject of perfectionism came up in the last 15 minutes of our call.

I’ll be 38 in January and never once have I allowed myself to be anything less than capable. I strive for excellence in everything I do. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again has been an unwritten rule I’ve lived by and it’s clearly seen in my work product. Anyone who’s worked with me expects no less than the best possible outcome on any product or project I work on.

So, for the past year, I’ve been confounded by why I haven’t been able to get my coaching business off the ground. I’ve gone through countless training programs and acquired an amazing amount of knowledge and have ample personal experience to support why I’m good enough to help people gain self-awareness, heal from trauma, and create healthy intimate relationships and yet, something was holding me back.

In speaking with my coach, it began to dawn on me that I’d assigned different meaning to my ability to succeed intellectually than emotionally. Success in connecting emotionally, aka, in being vulnerable was alien to me and so I protected myself by building sky high fortresses against attack. Questions like “How would I be seen if this didn’t work out?” and “How would I feel about myself?” and “What would I make that mean about me?” sprung to mind and that’s when through all my mind chatter, I heard my coach ask “How vulnerable do I give myself permission to be?”.

All the air suddenly left my body in a sign of relief and unburdening. I vibrated with the realization that no one had placed any expectations on me and that it was all me and all I needed to do was let go and allow, give myself permission to be vulnerable. I’m stronger than the seven year old little girl who couldn’t fight off her rapist and I’m stronger than the nine year old little girl who desperately needed love and couldn’t say no to her molester and I’m stronger than the fourteen year child who ran from her attacker believing that in order to survive she had to be closed off and watchful, untrusting and afraid.

I built my fortress to shield and protect me but it became my prison, disconnecting me from my essence, a loving, giving, compassionate being, distancing me from experiencing true connection with other loving beings. I believe I stepped outside my prison in that moment and in doing so, the floodgates of pent up sadness, isolation, and burden of unnecessary expectations was opened up and released.

I am a wise and strong woman. I gently and tenderly care for my wounded inner child. I am freedom expressed. In my vulnerability, I find my voice and my strength. I am love calling out to you who are wounded, living in the world in isolation, desperately seeking love and validation and security from others telling you that joy and peace can be had from within.

Wonderful things can happen when someone holds space for you to safely step outside your self-constructed emotional prison. I will hold space for you.

Your Comfort Zone, Friend or Foe

I’ll start off by saying that your comfort zone is neither. It’s neutral. Taking a simplistic stance, your comfort zone is inanimate; therefore, it can neither keep you in it nor kick you out of it. What it can and does do is signal when you are approaching the boundaries of your comfort. Then it’s up to you to decide whether to forge ahead or shrink back.

What makes your comfort zone seem “friendly” is its predictability and unfortunately that’s the very same characteristic that makes it your “foe”. It’s comforting to know exactly what you’re gonna get in life, when you’re gonna get it and who’s gonna give it to you. When you’ve been “getting” something for so long, you start to build certainty around that thing; it starts to sprout roots in your life and over time those roots grow strong and firm, not easily swayed.

If your tree bears a lot of fruit, you may think “I’ve got everything I need right here, I don’t have to try different fruit.” If your tree is barren but it provides a lot of shade, then you may think “At least I’ve got shade, some people don’t have any.” The point here being is that you can find lots of reasons to stay exactly where you are and as long as you’re okay with it and aren’t wishing you had more variety or maybe got a tan once in a while, then, by all means, stay there.

It’s when you get bored or tired of your predictability or maybe your predictability abuses you or doesn’t pay you enough, that your comfort zone begins to appear more like a foe and all you want to do is escape it.

Here’s the thing, you can’t escape your comfort zone. It’s always going to be with you and believe it or not, it’s necessary for your survival. Yes, you can get used to accepting certain realities, some of which may not be in your best interest but your comfort zone also serves as protection. It sends out warning signals when you’re in unfamiliar territory, like when you’re walking alone in a deserted park late at night or driving in icy conditions.

You’ve heard it all said before. Gone are the days of when you needed to look out for saber tooth tigers when you were out hunting but your early warning system, i.e. your fight or flight response, hasn’t changed with the times. Striking up a conversation with your crush causes just the same amount of heart pounding palpitations and dry mouth as would being confronted by a regular old tiger.

So while you can’t escape your comfort zone, there is something you can do to begin to live in harmony with it. You can practice expanding your context. I like to think of context as something similar to perspective. Your context is a container. Everyone’s container is different, a different size and shape. Your container is created when you’re born and it gets filled up first by the perspectives of your caretakers, then your teachers and friends, the media and then by your unique experiences, feelings, and beliefs. Over time, your container gets really full, so you’re unable to accept new ideas and new perspectives and when that happens, the boundaries of your comfort zone stop expanding and you stop expanding. If a new idea tries to find its way into your container, it just bounces off because there’s no space for it to fit into.

Click here for a free guide on expanding your comfort zone.

Now let’s say that your context contains the belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman. All your experiences and people in your life support this world view so you’ve never felt any discord with this belief. Then, someone you love very much, an uncle maybe, announces that he’s in love with another man and you enter a complete state of confusion because you now have two perspectives that exist in your context in complete opposition to each other.

One the one hand, you can’t accept that your uncle is Gay and on the other hand you love him dearly but you can’t live in a state of discord so you have to decide which idea to hold on to. If you decide to hold onto the belief that marriage is only between a man and a woman, then you must discard your love for your uncle, thereby shrinking your context. On the other hand, if you decide to love your uncle and accept him for being Gay, then, your context expands because not only have you made space in your context by discarding that old belief, it expands even more to accommodate new perspectives about the GLBT spectrum.

The more you expand your context, the more your comfort zone expands, allowing you to try new varieties of fruit and step into the sun. As you expand your comfort zone, you teach your early warning system when to detect real danger and when it should take a nap.

I received a rude awakening to the limits of my comfort zone six months ago as I sat on the edge of my bed having a good cry. I was crying because I was broke, very broke. Having -$400 in your checking account is not fun, especially when your monthly expenses exceed your monthly salary. My business expenses totaled approximately $45,000 in 2015, about $40,000 more than I actually had in the bank. I’d say they were all legitimate expenses but the spending was actually a cop out.

You see, I had a dream of becoming an entrepreneur and yet I was so scared of stepping outside the boundaries of my comfort zone, I did everything I could to not become an entrepreneur, namely, I spent more and more money getting “ready”. I bought courses, some of which to this day, I have yet to begin. I paid for coaching, sometimes only to be told what I already knew and then there were the weekend trips to attend self-improvement seminars which were all worth it.

I beat myself up for a while, analyzed my budget spreadsheet, and realized I had absolutely no more wriggle room. I had painted myself into a corner and my only options were to shrink or expand. Shrinking was out of the question. I had a support network around me that would not allow that to happen and I’m so grateful for the unconditional love that surrounds me. I did not want to look back on my life and admit that I didn’t even take advantage of the amazing opportunity that I had worked so diligently to manifest.

So I dug deep and came to understand that my dreams would not come true without taking some risks and one of the risks I had been trying to avoid taking was being seen and standing firm and true for what I’m passionate about. As soon as I made the decision to be seen, I discarded a ton of beliefs about my worth and value, making space for new perspectives and expanding my context at the same time.

Your comfort zone is merely an indicator for what you don’t know and haven’t yet experienced. Most people have a valid fear of the unknown because it might be dangerous but more often than not, the fear is irrational and could lead to personal freedom, a better relationship, a new job or a clear mind. If you’re afraid of the unknown, I have a tip for you, acknowledge it, get to know it, and seek support. Perhaps there’s someone you know who is very familiar with what you’re afraid of and can help guide you through it.

My new mantra is I REFUSE TO SHRINK and that begins with sharing my knowledge and walking my talk. What do you need to discard in order to make space in your context?

Want to learn how to expand your comfort zone? Click here for your free guide.

“The pain of every change is forgotten when the benefits of that change are realized.” –Tom Hopkins