It does not seem possible that we can be calm and at peace for very long in this world. Something outside us always seems to steal our peace of mind. It can be the neighbor's dog barking all night, or the children breaking an antique vase, or a flat tire when we are in a hurry, or worries about finances or a war or pollution. How we could we possibly remain at peace?
As long as we think that we are victims of forces outside of ourselves, we will not have lasting peace of mind. But you ask yourself, aren't we the victims of the world outside us? If we think that, then we will be. As victims of the world we will have anxiety, fear, and depression. There is no doubt about that. How could it be otherwise?
We have given away our power. Someone can hurt our feelings. Someone else can be responsible for our happiness or our sadness. It might be a spouse or relative or friend or even a stranger. Yes, we let someone else or some circumstance be responsible for our feelings. That is giving away our power. Who is in control of our own thinking and feelings? We have given that away. Am I in control of my own thoughts and feelings or have I given that over to someone or something?
If someone hurts our feelings, it is because we either think there is some truth in what they say or we want to be in control of what others think of us. We can never be in control of what others think of us no matter how hard we try. We can bend over backwards trying to please others and some will still not think highly of us. Some will always think we could have or should have done more or done it differently! That includes spouses, and parents and neighbors.
Who is in control of our own thoughts and feelings if not ourselves? It is me who decides who and what can disturb my peace of mind. If a stranger calls me an idiot, I can decide it does not bother me one bit. If a parent calls me an idiot for doing the exact same thing, I decide whether it bothers me or not. Yes, I decide. Who else is in charge of my own thoughts? It is I who decides who or what bothers me. I decide whether a stranger's remarks or a friend's remarks can hurt my feelings.
It is when we take responsibility for our own thoughts and feelings, that we regain power. We regain power over our own lives. What someone else thinks of me is none of my business unless I want to make it my business. If I make it my business to worry about what others think of me, I am setting myself up for disappointment and depression. If I make it my business to worry about what others think of me, then I am the one responsible for setting myself up for disappointment. Accept this responsibility gladly. For if I take responsibility for my own thoughts and feelings, then I am in charge and can change thoughts and feelings that I don't like.
It is so much easier to make some circumstance or someone else responsible for my happiness or unhappiness. The blame game — how easy it is to blame something or someone for my pain. It is much more difficult to take responsibility for one's own thoughts and feelings and life. Yet, there is such power and joy and freedom in finally taking control of one's own life.
I can choose to be at peace even when there seems to be chaos all around me.
I am responsible for the interpretation of what I see.
I choose the feelings I experience, and I decide upon the goal I would achieve.
I will deceive myself no longer that I am helpless in the face of what is done to me.
(based on a quote from A Course in Miracles)
Jim Meissner lives in Ashland.
Send 600 to 700 word inner peace articles to Sally McKirgan email@example.com.