So, I set off to find it myself - whatever it was.
I can honestly say I thought harder about that than I have ever thought about anything in my entire life. I wrestled with it. I asked those closest to me. I read about it, researched it and not only came up with what inner peace means to me - but how my apparent lack of peace affects my relationships with others.
My first assertion was that if you don't love yourself, you can't have an open, honest, free relationship with anyone. Sure, you'll have good ones - even great ones, but it will not be the same. You will, however, have life-changing relationships with those who truly love themselves. I’m sure this part of the journey doesn't happen for everyone, but this was my first step to finding peace.
The real change came for me a few hours later, once the house was quiet and dark and I was relaxed. So... if you have to love yourself to be truly connected to someone, do I love myself? Do I really?
So, the self-assessment began right then. In exercises led by your friends and family, teachers, counselors or even Human Resources, you'll do a quick overview of yourself and feel satisfied that you appeased whoever asked you to do it. If you're having a down day you may even make a brief list of what you like about yourself and what you think you need to work on. But, in the blackness of your room, when you look deep into the dark, scary reason that has you on this journey for peace, you have to be really, painfully honest - with yourself.
First, I looked at the aspects of my life, personality and character by which, I felt, others would negatively judge me - the things that I am most insecure about. Some of them were even secret things about me that not many people even knew, because I was afraid to tell them. Then, I looked at each of those things individually and tried to decide if those were traits that I liked or wanted to change about myself – was I ashamed? ... and I didn't want to change any of them. So, the light bulb went on in my head: Why am I insecure about those attributes in the first place if I'm not willing to change them? Would I want to be my friend? Would I want to love me? Yes, I would - even for the things that I'm afraid others wouldn't accept. If they don’t, it’s up to me to seek out those who will.
Once I realized that there is nothing about me that I'm ashamed of, it all became so clear - clarity I've never felt before. It became so very clear, it felt peaceful. Peace. The thing that I was looking so hard for. Something I've never felt before, not like this. It's a very powerful and empowering moment. I could literally feel a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I didn’t move – I couldn’t. I was afraid I’d loose that foreign, freeing, beautiful feeling.
I slept soundly that night.
When I woke up and thought how I had worked through finding my own inner peace, I knew nothing could stop me. I had a confidence I had either lost long ago or had earned on this journey and it felt good. It still does. I'm not going to lose it.
Something else that comes with inner peace is clarity. I know it sounds corny, but stay with me on this – it’s happened 3 times. In the weeks since I’ve known this new confidence, I’ve cried, felt hurt, confused and frustrated with my life and love – peace does not grant you a charmed life, free of conflict. And just when I think it can not get any harder to sort out, the answer I need comes to me both mentally and physically. I realize what I have to do and I can feel a weight lifting from my shoulders just as it did the night I found what I was searching for. Maybe it feels the same because the search for answers is the search for peace? I don’t know. But so far, on the 3 occasions I’ve gone forward with the answer that comes to me so clearly, without the distractions of everything else in my head, in my life and in my heart, I haven’t been sorry.