How to Cultivate Inner Peace When Riding the Wave of Change
March 25, 2019
This post was written by Alex Phillips, Co Founder of Saint Belford.
I felt like a human yo-yo for most of February. The ups and downs were an unpleasant shock to the system and it left me feeling all sorts of crap. The highs were short lived and the lows unleashed a hurricane of emotions.
Just when I thought my tear ducts had dried up, the flood gates would reopen, leaving me physically and mentally dehydrated.
So, what triggered the hurricane?
We were saying goodbye to our Inner city Melbourne apartment (our first home) and moving in with my parents before embarking on a five month adventure around Asia. An unplanned adventure.
For those who know me well, this type of thing goes against every fibre in my body, so one could say I was experiencing enormous amounts of change and taking giants leaps outside my comfort zone.
Because I saw this change as a positive step forward and a challenge I willingly accepted months ago, it didn’t feel right crying about it at first.
I immediately disregarded it as a time-of-month reaction but as it spilled over into the weeks after and continued to resurface without warning, I had no choice but to dig a lot deeper to understand what was going on below the surface, and be okay with the fact that this wasn’t going to be an easy transition.
I’ve written this for you as much as I have for my future self. I hope these reminders facilitate a more mindful transition, provide comfort and reassure you that whatever inner turmoil has erupted, you are not alone and it will pass.
Give yourself permission to feel
The first step is giving up the belief that certain emotions are okay to feel and others aren’t.
I’m a big believer in processing emotions instead of suppressing or denying their existence, even when it’s painful and exhausting.
Remember, it’s okay not to be okay.
Although a luxury escape to denial island is more appealing, we both know it’s only a temporary escape. Sooner or later, your emotions will resurface without warning and demand every bit of your attention.
Let’s be clear though – feeling your emotions without judgment and wallowing in self-pity are two completely different experiences.
The first allows you to connect with your inner wisdom and cultivate a deeper understanding of your needs and boundaries. The second is a less constructive, self-sabotaging form of suffering that promotes a sense of helplessness.
What we need to remember is that every emotion serves a purpose and carries a message that requires us to take some form of action.
Maybe it’s seeking help to resolve some deep-seated issues. Maybe it’s having a difficult conversation with a loved one. Maybe it’s forgiving someone who has wronged you in the past.
Ultimately, letting your emotions be felt, acknowledged and understood is the only way you can let your emotions naturally and harmoniously flow through you. It’s the key to cultivating inner peace and honouring the needs of your mind and body.
Let go of unrealistic expectations of how things should be
Setting emotional expectations is dangerous territory. When reality doesn’t match our expectations of how things should be, our minds tend to respond negatively.
We generally feel a sense of disappointment and frustration which can perpetuate a long, drawn out cycle of self-pity and compromise our ability to adapt to the circumstances.
Instead of being open to the possibility of “gloomy days” before and after my move, I was fixated on howincrediblethe change of scenery would be from a creative standpoint and what a huge, positive step outside my comfort zone this was.
By fixating on a “blue skies, not a cloud in sight” kind of transition, I was denying myself permission to feel and accept my emotions as they surfaced.
I was rejecting every negative emotion because it conflicted with my view of how things should be. I was depriving myself of the release my body desperately needed.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t channel a positive mindset and anticipate positive outcomes. It’s about being realistic and willing to accept whatever unravels, even when it’s uncomfortable. It’s about riding the unexpected wave instead of resisting its powerful force.
Let go of the urge to compare
The stories we hear about how others have dealt with a particular situation can also perpetuate unhelpful comparison thoughts and expectations.
“But they moved overseas and they were fine”
Nobody’s human experience is identical. There are far too many variables at play to ever make a fair comparison between one human and another.
Plus, your perception of someone else’s response is just your perception. It may not be consistent with that person’s reality. Remember, you can’t physically see someone else’s emotional baggage or inner struggles.
Whether we are conscious of them or not, we’re always going to have expectations that stem from past experiences, knowledge, assumptions and stories we hear. It’s how our brain satisfies it’s craving for comfort.
What’s problematic is our attachment to these outcomes because attachment is the root of suffering.
So, what do we do?
We need to detach ourselves from expectations of "how things should be" and learn to acceptwhat isso that we can rationally and mindfully deal with situations as they arise, regardless of whether we like the outcome or not.
This, of course, takes time and patience. It’s a long-term game of choosing to let go, even if it bruises our ego.
Connect with your higher self
If your feelings are a little too raw to verbalise, downloading your thoughts on paper can be a helpful alternative to mentally process what’s going on upstairs and make sense of it all.
It may seem counterintuitive. You’re probably thinking, how can I write about my feelings if I struggle to verbalise them? The reality is, the general fear of judgment associated with baring your soul to another human being isn’t a factor of concern when it comes to journalling.
It’s a safe space for you to explore the emotions that come up and possible reasons for their visit. Not only is it a way of soothing yourself, it can help you move away from "why is this happening to me" to "why is this happening for me and what am I learning?"
When we focus our energy on more empowering questions that add value to our lives, we avoid falling into patterns of hopelessness and helplessness.
Don’t expect the answers to instantly appear before your eyes. It takes time, so be patient with yourself on this journey.
Whether you are moving cities, changing jobs, entering a new relationship or exiting one, the primary message here is to be kind to yourself, stay radically open-minded and ride the wave as it comes.
As tempting as it can be, fostering unrealistic expectations, drawing unfair comparisons and suppressing your emotions will only lock you into a state of suffering.
Let go and give yourself the time and space to feel your emotions as they show up, so that you can cultivate inner peace and acceptance.