Do you need some peace?
Updated: Sep 14, 2020
3 Strategies to Strengthen Your Inner Life
There was silence in the meeting. People were absorbing what had just been said.
One person shared how overwhelmed she felt after watching the news the night before. Her husband, a member of the National Guard, had been called up again. Riots were resuming.
Knowing that her husband would be gone again was not the hard part. The hard part, the heaviness, was her emotions and feelings around the unrest in our country. And this was on top of Coronavirus, kids going back to school, election year. It was too much. She needed to find a place of peace, a source of ballast.
When was the last time you’ve been overwhelmed by circumstances around you?
If you’re like most of us, probably not too long ago.
Earlier this week, I talked with someone who’s company was recently sold and the new owners continue to make decisions that overwhelm her. This week it was the new chain of command. Not only was it announced coldly in an email, she no longer had authority that matched her responsibility. She was asking herself, “How can I help those I manage without any authority? What do I tell them when they come to me?”
Then there was the friend who called crying about a dysfunctional relationship. Someone near and dear sent a text with an accusation about her character. My friend was upset about the accusation and the hurt it caused. She replayed the days leading up to it in her mind, wondering what she could have done differently. But there was nothing she thought she could have done differently.
As we processed, the accusation wasn’t the hardest part, rather it was the reality that the “elephant in the room” of their relationship was rearing it’s head. This elephant has been around for a while. Past conversations to talk about it haven’t gone well.
My friend was already stressed about distance learning with her kids, working, starting a business, and trying to find time for herself. Now she was feeling pressure to decide whether to say something to this loved one, or to let it go. Neither seemed like a good option.
Finding Peace Amidst the Challenges
At times, life feels like a series of problems to be solved and obstacles to overcome. Some days we are up for the challenge. Other days, our lives seem to require more than we have to give, and we’d rather stay in bed and escape it all.
Author Hannah Whitall Smith* encourages us to think in terms of our interior and exterior life. She describes the interior life not as a place, but as a condition, a state of being. The exterior being the circumstances of our life.
Her perspective is that the inward (interior) always rules the outward (exterior), “If there is peace within, no outward turmoil can affect the soul.” She goes on to say, “Circumstances make men kings in the outward life, but in this hidden life (interior self), men become kings over circumstances.”
How do we find peace within?
How do we become kings and queens over our circumstances?
How do we have such a strong interior life that no outward turmoil can affect the soul?
Finding peace is likely a process, a journey with a compilation of different strategies. I’d like to offer three.
3 Strategies to Strengthen Your Inner Life
One day this week I woke with bad dreams about a previous experience in my life. I’ve been away from this situation for a long time and I was irritated that it was still nagging in my mind. I knew the thoughts I was having about the situation were not true, nor were they helpful.
First, I called out the untrue thoughts, the tyrants trying to rule my soul.
Then I purposefully focused my thoughts on something else, thoughts that were true about my current situation; thoughts that were true about who I am.
I reminded myself that I have processed that experience. I have allowed it to teach me things about myself. I have become grateful for it. And I have moved on.
2. Own Up
Sometimes we are the cause of our inner turmoil. Our selfish choices, our lack of following through, our fear of what other’s think, or ___________________ (you fill in the blank.)
It takes courage to admit our humanness, our frailty, our imperfections. But, when we don’t, who are we deceiving? Remember, the inward rules the outward.
So, how do we “own it”?
Write out what is weighing on your mind.
· An interaction with a co-worker, your significant other, your child?
· A commitment you didn’t keep?
· A judgmental thought?
· Blame you put on someone else?
· Forgiveness you withheld?
Confess your situation. Seek reconciliation, if possible. Forgive yourself. Choose to respond differently the next time.
3. Intentionally Enrich
In the business of life, it’s easy to forget or deprioritize taking care of ourselves.
A former mentor of mine likes to leave the city when she is overwhelmed or stressed. She calls it “Getting out of Dodge.” Even if it’s only for a short drive in the country, physically getting away helps her enrich her soul.
What enriches your soul? Do you know? Need some ideas? Try this list.
Whatever you choose, schedule it like a non-negotiable meeting.
We don’t have to be tossed and turned by the external circumstances in our lives. I’ve offered three ways to strengthen our inner lives, and a bonus list of ways to enrich our soul. I’m sure there are more.
Let’s help each other out.
What are some additional ways a person can care for their interior life?
What's something that works for you?
Post it in the comments.
*The book is entitled The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life by Hannah Whitall Smith, written in 1885.