Conflict of every kind has always been a plague that has ravaged our lives since the dawn of time. If we are not fighting against others, we are fighting against ourselves. If we are not fighting against ourselves we are fighting for an unattainable ideal, an unrealistic belief, or a toxic dogma. And so continues the eternal cycle of chaos in our lives.
Like me, you might have found that chaos comes in many shapes and forms; some obvious, some more lethal and subtle, some habitual, some gradual. But no matter what pain you are dealing with in life, know that the source of that pain comes from within you.
It took me a long time to own up to taking responsibility of myself; of the way I thought, felt and reacted to the world. Now, although I still struggle to keep perspective at times, I have got myself into the habit of letting go of these 10 things to regain my peace and tranquility. I hope you can be inspired to identify these sources of self-imposed chaos in your life as well.
1. THE NEED TO CONTROL EVERYTHING
I’m a self-confessed control freak. I need to feel stable, secure and in charge of the steering wheel of life to feel a temporary sense of respite from my fear of everything. However, despite my need to control everything, I have managed through my journey of spiritual awakening to accept unpredictability, instability and even helpless a lot more than before. I still slip back into old habits but I am getting there, and on the way rediscovering the wonderful calmness of inner quiet. Control is a product of fear, of distrust towards yourself and your ability to handle whatever life throws at you. Once you come to see the innate resilience and strength of your spirit, you will start to trust yourself and therefore you will open to life.
2. NEEDING TO BE “PERFECT”
Perfectionism promotes chronic stress and burnout. I’ve spent a lot of my life wanting to do everything perfectly, say everything perfectly, and essentially be the perfect person. What a waste of time! We intellectually know that no one can be perfect, but yet somehow we still tend to get stuck in these kinds of negative cycles, usually unconsciously. If you are never quite happy with what you do or who you are, chances are you are a perfectionist. Once upon a time I was such a perfectionist that it took me 6 hours to write one article (not joking). Eventually I learned that there really is no such thing as perfection in life as life is about growth and change. Perfection, on the other hand is an unchanging state, a state of death, a state that is not possible in life for us to achieve.
3. GIVING AWAY YOUR POWER TO OTHER PEOPLE
We give away our power to others when we allow them to define our worth, to dictate our feelings and to control our perceptions. How often have you allowed what another person says about you, or how they treat you, to impact the tone of your entire day? How often have you felt completely miserable with no end because someone ignored, rejected or criticized you? This is known as giving away your power to other people, because you are giving them permission to control the way you feel about yourself. The truth is that you don’t have to give this power to others, and any time you choose you can take back this power and define the way you see yourself.
4. DWELLING IN THE PAST
I recently wrote about this topic and the way it impacts our relationships with others. There are many reasons why we choose to live in the past, but all of them are pointless. Living in the past is living in death because we dwell in what was rather than what is, right now. The more we are stuck in the past, the less we can truly live our lives to the fullest in the present.
5. SURROUNDING YOURSELF WITH TOXIC PEOPLE
Sometimes the toxic people that surround us are our parents and siblings, other times they are our friends or lovers. In every case, it can be extremely difficult to let go of people in our lives who are toxic to our psychological and emotional well-being, especially when we have grown up with them, or formed tight bonds with them. Personally, I had to make the hard choice of severing ties with my family because of the consistently negative impact they had on my life. You can tell that it’s time to make the courageous but tough choice of cutting away toxic people when they constantly bring you down, hold you back or generate endless drama in your life.
6. HOLDING ON TO BITTERNESS
Anger is a very seductive emotion. It makes us feel self-righteous, justified and protected against the vulnerability of getting hurt again. The truth is that holding on to anger is an act of cowardice, not strength. Bitterness eats you from the inside out and closes you off to the many beautiful opportunities that life presents to you to heal, grow and expand. The cure to bitterness is learning forgiveness and learning to understand that all unkind, unjust and unloving behavior is a result of pain – pain that people try to release in many misguided ways.
7. BEATING YOURSELF UP FOR MAKING MISTAKES
Bitterness doesn’t just end with people; it also involves the way we treat ourselves as well. When we refuse to forgive ourselves, we enter into never-ending cycles of self-hatred, pain and regret. For a long time I was absolutely shattered by the mistakes I made, which caused me great anxiety and ceaseless unhappiness. Eventually I learned to change my perspective towards mistakes seeing them as opportunities to learn and grow. This approach might sound nauseating (it did to me at first), but it truly is the healthiest way to approach mistake making. We all make mistakes, no matter how smart, attractive or wealthy we are. Remember that!
8. THE NEED TO BE RIGHT
I grew up in a religious family that always felt the need to protect their sense of being “right,” even to the point of constantly arguing and viciously debating among themselves and other people of different perspectives. It wasn’t long before I adopted the habit as well. It is absolutely exhausting trying to protect your need to feel “right” and superior to others. So I’m happy to say that I dropped the habit a long time ago through the practice of open-mindedness, empathy and a pinch of humility. We are not always right, and that is OK. You learn a lot of things from being wrong.
9. LETTING YOUR EGO CONTROL YOU
Our ego is that part of us that feels the need to protect our identity. It’s that powerful force within us that makes us feel separate from others, causes us to become defensive and angry when someone criticizes us, becomes crushed when a lover leaves us and fuels our thirst to become “bigger and better.” When we are controlled by our ego’s we always experience suffering and chaos because that is the nature of wanting to keep ourselves separate from other people. The reality is that on a spiritual, emotional and even atomical level, we are all part of One, and once we all this higher understanding (or Higher Self) guide us, we make decisions that are grounded in love, compassion and patience.
10. THE NEED TO HAVE EVERYONE LIKE YOU
So many of us sensitive types suffer from the people pleasing gene. We invest so much time and effort into making everyone happy and being likable people that we lose touch with our authentic selves. Eventually we are so tense and so anxious of what people think of us that we become sick and exhausted. Has this ever happened to you? It’s taken me a LONG time to realize that not everyone will like me. But the truth is that I don’t like everyone either. That is just the nature of being human; sometimes we warm to people, sometimes we are repelled by people. Source your self-worth from the inside and you won’t have to worry about being liked all the time.
We all struggle with these forms of self-imposed chaos. But once we accept that it is our responsibility to learn, grow and evolve, we experience more and more peace in our everyday lives.
How do you find or rediscover your inner peace?