The article below was published on Christmas Eve 2008 as a guest opinion. It was the beginning of the Inner Peace column. George W. Bush ("43") was president at the time. Here is the article, updated for today, nine years later. I want to thank the Tidings for publishing the column and to all of you who have read it and continue to contribute to the shared journey to peace. At this table, everyone is invited and always welcome.

— Sally McKirgan

In this season of love, give yourself the gift of inner peace!

Having inner peace is as simple as changing your mind. Is there someone who causes you to feel discomfort? Sometimes the thought or memory of this person turns your stomach into knots. That is good! This means you are ready to change your mind. Here's one method that can help.

Can you say with complete certainty that you know everything there is to know, including the past and present, about anyone? Do you know every detail of their lives, their fears, hurts, illnesses, challenges or successes? You don't. No one does.

The driver who cut you off in traffic, the talkative lady at the post office or the guy asking for money for food? Everyone is, on some level, suffering. They are fighting their own hard battle. We don't know what their life is like or what lessons they are here to learn.

If you can drop your judgment and consider changing your mind, you are on your way to “choosing peace" in that very instant. To have peace, exclude no one from the compassion, understanding and kindness in your heart.

However, sometimes there are people who continue to annoy. For example, I hate to admit that the 45th President of the United States has been one of those annoyances for me. I realized however, that disliking him does not make me feel peaceful. Every time I see his face, hear about his “tweets” or watch the news, my internal barometer begins to rise. I feel the turmoil and judgments running rampant through my mind like scurrying rats at the county dump. To get to the bottom of it, I need to look within.

I know I am projecting something unrecognized and disliked about myself onto him. What is it I dislike so intently? I start by separating the form of the problem from the content; i.e. the form is hate, viciousness deceit and lies. Have I ever bullied or said what he says, wreaking havoc on people? NO! Have I ever been deceitful or wrongly accused someone or sought to control situations to my advantage? This is where honesty comes in. OK, sure — on occasion I have pushed or manipulated things to “get my way.” I don't like to admit it. That is why it is called projection.

We project outside and onto someone else whatever it is we do not want to recognize within. "To thine own self be true," to quote the Bard! It is not pretty, but next time someone annoys you, look at what it is about — the content of the problem or the annoyance. Then look within (honestly) and see similarities and then you understand projection and how we prefer to place on someone else, something we’d never do! We face the false ego and then see behind it the face of peace. See either love or the call for love. Love for the other is also love for the self.

Guilt is the main result of the ego’s faulty thinking. But now that my mistaken projections have been brought to consciousness — guilt is gone. I let go, I forgive myself and begin to forgive 45 as well. When I withdraw my condemnation of others, I no longer condemn myself — I’m free. I can still work for change while giving up attachment to what happens or results I want.

In the end, judgment always means separation, excluding someone from the comfort and reality of love and yourself as well. Give yourself the gift of inner peace — not only for this season, but for an hour, a day, six months, a year, and then a lifetime. Like the Beatles song says, "All you need is love, da dahh, da da da ... All you need is love, love ... Love is all you need"!

—Sally McKirgan is a life-long student of forgiveness. She facilitates the Tidings Inner Peace column and one of several "A Course In Miracles" study groups in the Rogue Valley. Contact her at innerpeaceforyou@outlookcom.