To many of us, 2016 felt like a very difficult year. Beside our own private struggles, we collectively felt disbelief, grief, fear, and anger as a succession of devastating local, national, and international events unfolded over the last twelve months.
How can we find inner peace and happiness in 2017 - and in the rest of our lives - in the aftermath of such challenging times?
There is no quick answer and there is no quick fix. All the events that happened did in fact happen. Our feelings in response to these events are real and valid. They inform us that we are experiencing something worthy of our attention.
When we feel disbelief, it’s because we feel challenged in our faith, in what we believe to be true.
When we feel grief, it’s because we feel the loss of something that we cherish.
When we feel fear, it’s because we feel threatened in our survival and in the survival of those we care about.
When we feel anger, it’s because we feel a loss of control at what is happening in our life.
Our first reaction tends to be escaping these feelings. They are painful and we are wired to resist feeling pain. Depending on our personality of origin, our resistance shows up as denial, depression, numbness, anxiety, aggression, or escapism through compulsively engaging in coping activities.
Despite being natural, none of these reactions will lead to inner peace and happiness in the long term, and they will not resolve the problems that we face privately and collectively.
Paradoxically, rather than resisting, the first step to inner peace and happiness is to deliberately slowly and fully feel our feelings. Feeling the pain of hopelessness, grief, fear, and anger allows us to honor our experience, get to know ourselves more deeply, and later on transform their energy into meaningful action.
When our core values are challenged, negative feelings are activated. Therefore when we allow ourselves to fully feel these feelings and inquire about their meaning in the present moment, we are brought back to the deep place within ourselves - the root of our authenticity and integrity.
- What are my core values? What do I stand for in my life?
- What values of mine have been challenged?
- How do I tend to react to difficult feelings? Do I withdraw, become numb, depressed, anxious, aggressive, distracted?
- How can I manifest what I stand for in the face of challenges and in the life I currently live?
- Who can support me in this effort?
Fully feeling our feelings, knowing what we stand for, and finding ways to manifest our core values even when they are being challenged by outside forces is essential to find inner peace, happiness, and make positive change along the way.
We can’t control what happens and we can’t control our feelings, but when we are in touch with our deeper self, we can control how we respond to these challenges from a place of authenticity and integrity. We can be the change we wish to see in the world, starting with our inner world and our closest relationships.
Symbolically, today is the possibility of a fresh start. How are you going to bring in the new year what you stand for?