I’m reading a book right now entitled Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow by Karen Casey. I grabbed it out of the library last week while my girls were picking out their books for the week. It’s a little bit Zen, a little bit 12-step, a little bit coaching. In other words, right up my alley. This morning as I stole a few minutes to read a couple of pages, I came across this sentence:
“If having a peaceful life is our goal, then we must give up unpeaceful behaviors.”
Of course. This makes sense right? I thought about the more obvious sorts of unpeaceful behaviors (for the sake of continuity, we’re all going to pretend that unpeaceful is a word, okay?) For example, bombing a neighboring country is not a way to bring about true peace. Neither is creating inflammatory websites, television shows or books. Honking the horn and giving the finger to someone on the highway? Nope, not gonna help either.
And then I started to think about it on a personal level. My sometimes short temper when somebody leaves their glass in the sink instead of putting it in the dishwasher – not terribly peaceful. The way I sometimes reprimand my children when I am the one who is tired or cranky and they are just acting like kids do – definitely a prime example of unpeaceful behavior right there. Now to be fair, I think about my actions quite a bit and I work hard at changing those behaviors. I’m not perfect but I am definitely seeing myself as a more peaceful person. It’s definitely hard work letting go of those unpeaceful behaviors we all have. AND the effort is worth it – not only because of how it changes how we interact with other people, it changes us. How would it feel to spend less time frustrated about how you respond to your children? How would it feel to get to work after driving to work less concerned with who cut you off and how closely you followed the car ahead of you? What if you didn’t fire off a snarky comment online to an article or a blog you disagreed with?
So all of that, still in the realm of something I am comfortable with examining on a pretty regular basis. Then a sinking feeling hit me. There is still one more level on which to look at this. The most important and hardest level for most of us.
We must give up unpeaceful behaviors we enact against ourselves.
These can be the most insidious behaviors of all. Sometimes we don’t even realize the wars we are waging in our hearts and in our heads against ourselves on a nearly constant basis. How many of these unpeaceful statements have you said:
- I’m fat.
- I’m lazy.
- I’m stupid.
- I feel guilty about…
- I always screw up.
- I can’t manage money.
- I hate the way I look.
- I hate the way I act.
- I’m wasting my life.
- I’m a terrible person.
Once you determine how you demonstrate unpeaceful behaviors towards yourself, it’s time to start changing them. Awareness is the first step. From there, meditation is always a good next step. So is journalling and creating a plan of how to rework the neural pathways when you find yourself using old thought patterns (the good old standby of wearing a rubber band and snapping it when you catch yourself in the old patterns come to mind.) My point is, there are lots of ways to change the behavior, but the first step is to take a good hard look at what goes on in your head when nobody is looking. What messages do you reinforce about yourself over and over again while you are chopping vegetables or driving home Are they honestly true or are they unpeaceful thoughts that don’t serve you?
I think most of us aspire to live a more peaceful life. The good news is that it’s usually within our control. The hardest and most important place to enact change is in yourself. Even if you never get any further than working there, I assure you, you will live a more peaceful life and so will those who come in contact with you.