When life feels awesome, it’s easy to find peace of mind. In fact, you don’t even have to “find” it at all. When your buttons are only being pushed in the “right” ways, you don’t have to think about finding peace of mind at all because it’s just there.
But, uh, what about when life sucks?
Well, that can a bit more challenging and can even feel impossible sometimes.
So, today, my plan is to share six of my favorite tools that will help you find peace of mind, no matter what is happening.
But first, I want to start with a story about one of the most challenging times of my life.
A few years ago, I discovered (by accident) that my family had kept a lifelong secret from me. It was devastating.
I sank into a hole of depression, my health rapidly declined, and I was barely treading water in my business.
To add a little more pain into the mix, I constantly berated myself for not being able to “get over it.”
I was a life coach, for God’s sake, and thought that since people pay me to help them navigate change, I should be able to pull myself out of it.
And, boy did I ever try.
I used every “positive psychology” trick in the book.
I thought maybe that I would find peace of mind by chanting affirmations and platitudes.
But, much to my dismay, that only made things worse.
It was like the more I resisted the pain, the stronger it got.
Eventually, the only thing I could do was surrender into it.
In order to find peace of mind, I had to accept my emotional experience and allow it to unfold naturally.
As a result, I not only found peace of mind but I also found the most genuine feelings of Forgiveness I’ve ever felt.
Along the way, I gathered some wisdom and some tools to help you navigate challenging time and find peace of mind.
But before I jump into the tools, I first want to define what I mean when I use the term peace of mind.
Peace of mind, to me, means being present with what is, without judgment or resistance. It requires recognizing that the mind likes to freak out and activating the Observer Mind instead of falling into a pit of despair when this happens. Then, from this state, continuing to live in accordance with your needs and values.
6 Tools To Help You Find Peace of Mind No Matter What Is Happening
When you are going through a tough time in your life, it’s only natural to try to find peace of mind.
In Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), this is known as psychological flexibility and is comprised of six “core processes.” I have found these core processes to be so much more effective at finding peace of mind than trying to “stop thinking about it” or “think positively.”
(Note: I am not a therapist. I am a life coach who have found these therapy derived tools immensely helpful. If you need therapy, rather than coaching, I do recommend working with a therapist uses ACT.)
Tool # 1: Acceptance
When you fight against the present moment, whether that is an external or an internal experience, that resistance creates MORE suffering, not less.
It is kind of like trying to push a beach ball under water. The harder your push, the higher it flies into the air.
And as contrary as it sounds, that resistance also prohibits you from moving forward and making “positive” changes. This is probably the greatest paradox of personal growth but it’s also the most potent when embraced.
See, a big misconception about acceptance, especially self acceptance, is that it means “giving up” and not going after what you want. But, this is faulty logic because it assumes that acceptance happens in the past or the future. It doesn’t.
True acceptance can only happen in the present moment and it gives you clarity about where you actually want to go.
Acceptance is about coming into the present moment, without judging it as good/bad, right/wrong, and healing any distorted patterns surrounding it (like, say, tribal shame). From that place, you can reconnect with your core needs and values and decide how to move towards those values with integrity.
Tool # 2: Defusion
Recently, I shared this process with a client who was noticing that she was using food as a coping skill. After trying it, she reported back with:
I had to agree with her. It is, in fact, life changing.
Especially if you’ve been trying to think positively or change your “negative” thoughts in order to find peace of mind.
In my experience, and in the experience of the women I’ve worked with, trying to turn negative thoughts into positive ones is futile. That’s because generating thoughts is what the mind does.
We are wired to “look out for” threats, as a matter of survival, which means the mind will interpret almost anything as a threat.
So, trying to change these thoughts into positive ones, before taking action, is a waste of time.
Not only that, it breeds even more shame because you start to blame yourself for not being able to control your thoughts. It starts to push parts of yourself into the shadows.
On the other hand, defusion gives YOU, the Divine Being that YOU are, the power, not your thoughts.
Defusion isn’t about changing your thoughts. It’s about changing your relationship with your thoughts.
Think for a moment about a beautifully rustic reclaimed wood table with gorgeous metal legs. Something that Joanna Gaines would have Clint make on Fixer Upper.
The metal was originally in pieces that were, literally, fused together with welding tools. All of those individual parts become one thing.
When it comes to shadow integration, this is a good thing. You want all of your fractured and rejected parts to become one again. That’s what creates a sense of wholeness and sovereignty in your life.
But, when it comes to how you relate to your thoughts, it only creates more internal struggle and suffering.
When you fuse with your thoughts, you ACT from them.
Defusing gives you a CHOICE between thought and action. It puts you back in the driver seat.
In order to defuse, you will need to begin my recognizing that thinking thoughts is the mind’s job and that those thoughts only have the meaning YOU give them. And then, practicing being the observer of your thoughts.
Simply notice them in your mind and decide if they are helpful in moving you in a core needs and valued direction. If not, you can let them play in the background, like a radio, and STILL take actions towards what you want.
Practicing meditation can definitely help with this but you don’t “have to” meditate. Instead, you can start by taking “noticing” breaks.
For example, you could set a timer on your phone to go off every hour. When the timer goes off, simply notice what you are thinking and, more importantly, that YOU are the one watching your thoughts. And, that you can ACT anyway you want, not matter what the thoughts are doing.
Like my client said, life changing.
Tool # 3: Presence
As you’ve probably already started to gather, in order to practice the processes of acceptance and defusion, you have to be present. A lot of time, our minds drag us off to the past or the future and we forget to engage this right now moment.
Judging the right now moment as “wrong” or “bad” or “unacceptable” also takes us out of the present moment. It creates more fusion with our thoughts and takes our power to decide away.
If you are judging right now as wrong, the choices you will make from that perspective are very few. But, if you choose to engage in the present moment without that judgment, your choices of how to move forward become infinite.
Again, meditation can help but you don’t have to meditate in order to engage the present moment. You can simply take a moment to notice what you are feeling in your body or even just notice your external environment. If the mind starts ruminating on stories about how the feelings or your environment are wrong, bad, or otherwise unacceptable, gently bring yourself back and observe.
Kind of like a scientist. A scientist is going to make note of what is happening without making it wrong or bad, it just is what it is. Not as an act of complacency, but as a place of powerful choice about how to proceed.
Tool # 4: Self As Context
I’ll admit, self as context can be a little hard to wrap your mind around because our “selves” are, most often, how we relate to the world. Who are we if we aren’t ourselves? That is the question, no?
Well, in a nutshell, you are everything. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, lol.
The process of self as context is about recognizing that language is a barrier to knowing one’s whole self. When we identify with “I”, we limit our perspective on who we truly are. Even if what follows the “I” is “positive.”
In The Dark Side of the Light Chasers, Debbie Ford writes:
Once we accept the fact that each of us embodies all the traits in the Universe, we can stop pretending that we are not everything.
This is potent magic, my friend. The best way to actually practice this concept is to do shadow work.
Notice what this “negative” experience is bringing up inside of you. What parts of your shadow is it revealing and how you can integrate those parts for more peace of mind?
Tool # 5: Core Values
While the other processes are a bit less tangible, these next two are more concrete. (Balance, my friends!)
The reason we feel pain, at least from a “being human” perspective, is because we are out of integrity with our core needs and values.
Our needs are universal. They are: Safety, Sustenance, Love, Belonging, Rest, Autonomy, Integrity, Reverence, Play, Growth, Celebration, and Contribution.
Whereas, our values are an individual prioritization and expression of those needs.
For example, you might prioritize your need for Safety by seeking holistic health while someone else might prioritize by seeking wealth and someone else might seek both. Neither of these ways are right or wrong. They are very personal and can be a playground of unsurpassed growth and wholeness.
If you aren’t sure what your values are, you can download a free copy of my values workbook here:
All that to say, when you are going through a rough patch in life, it is important to reconnect with your needs and values so that you can take consistent action towards them. This will help you find peace of mind no matter what is going on.
Tool # 6: Committed Action
And, well, we have finally arrived at the last process, committed action.
Committed action is exactly what it sounds like: committing to taking action.
All of the previous processes are ways to navigate the “stuff” that shows up.
So, let’s say for example that life has thrown you a massive curve ball that will take up a lot of your time. Say a loved one needs round the clock care and you have decided that you will be the one to do it.
If you have a value around holistic well being, as I do, and you put taking care of this loved one above your own well-being, you will start to feel worn out, drained, and resentful. This, of course, is not going to feel like peace of mind. It’s going to feel like the opposite.
Committed action doesn’t mean that you ditch your loved one in order to take a bubble bath. It means you get creative about how to take care of yourself AND your loved one. And in some cases, it might even mean that you consciously choose to put the loved one first. This type of conscious choice will help you find peace of mind, too.
Oh, and please remember: committed action doesn’t mean you will be perfect. You are human and humans are delightfully imperfect.
In the end, I think that the ability to find peace of mind is about knowing where you stand, where you want to go, and having the right tools for bringing yourself back when things go haywire.
By practicing these six process, I know, first hand, that you can find more peace of mind, even in the midst of chaos. This doesn’t mean you won’t feel uncomfortable emotions but it does mean that you will tap into your own personal power and the richness of the human experience.
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