By Brianna Wiest
Having “inner peace” does not mean you aren’t able to feel, grieve, fight, win, think or be. It does not mean to maintain a placid emotional state for the rest of your life. All it means is that you are fully present for whatever it is you experience. When you cease to be resistant, you no longer disassociate from your emotions or, of course, aspects of yourself. You still have your full range of emotional capacity, with the exception of the suffering that resistance and unawareness breeds.
We believe to be at peace is for everything to just be “okay.” We see “peaceful people” as boring. We fail to distinguish that peace is not just feeling alright. Peace is not an emotion, it is a state of being.
There are many emotional states we can experience, but there are only two states of being, and they are “awareness” or “unawareness.” Peace is, of course, awareness. It is presence. It is full consciousness. What we wrongly confuse for being a supplement for our emotional lives is actually just a state of thinking and perceiving that facilitates them in a healthy way.
When we imagine peaceful, mature, self-aware people, we can recognize that they aren’t reactive, they aren’t overzealous in their confidence, and they don’t sway too far from their emotional center (they don’t become overwhelmed with joy or pain). We reject these things because until we find what they have, we need them. We need that cocky confidence to supplement for our lack of validation. We need the promise of joy to justify pain.
In reality, to have “inner peace” is not to be without joy or confidence or validation, but rather, to have it so intrinsically that we’re no longer seeking it in unhealthy or external ways. We are no longer suffering at the whim of our emotions, we are simply living through them, and being guided by them before they go into panic mode or we act out because they’ve been repressed.
While peace is not necessarily synonymous with just “okayness,” it is certainly synonymous with “love.” Understanding this is crucial. To commit to loving ourselves is to promise to show up for ourselves. It is to promise not to reject, deny, avoid or suppress aspects of who we are. In doing this, we treat ourselves with unconditional acceptance, and we find peace. In doing this we are embodying the highest form of self-love. In doing this we are creating a state of being that is not resistant, fearful or needy.
The point, of course, is that to fully experience all of the emotions you claim to reject inner peace in favor of, you must have inner peace first. The ironic part is that once you have that inner peace, you desire goodness in your life, but you don’t want it or need it. (To want is to inherently feel as though you are ‘without.’ To need is to feel as though you cannot give it to yourself.)
Not your happiness, nor your personality, nor your fun and informative and crucial emotions are replaced by inner peace. Inner peace facilitates them.
You will still feel pain when you feel loss, but you will no longer suffer over it because you will be present for it, and it will pass. You will still feel joy when something wonderful happens, but you won’t lose it the moment another worrying thought pops into your mind. You will still dislike what you dislike, take issue with what you disagree with, yet they will not control nor will they consume you. You’ll be able to stand up for yourself with ease, or speak about your opinions in effective ways.
Inner peace is not boring because it does not remove or replace or shift or change your personality. It just allows you to accept it.