Making Peace Your Power
When was the last time you had a conversation about peace?
Have you seen a motivational speaker or life coach who wants to talk to you about peace lately? Have you considered peace outside of the context of a religious or global relation?
Peace is an ancient conversation, but it should not be dead.
“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” – African Proverb
“For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the Universe.” – Larry Eisenberg
“Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free.” – Dalai Lama
“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” – Peace Pilgrim
Day after day you can peruse social media platforms, and within minutes you come across a solicitation by your local, national or international leader who wants to teach you how to have personal power. But you have to search deep on the internet for conversations about peace. Technology is breaking through physical barriers to bring people closer together. But mental barriers are more resistant.
Meanwhile, current conditions of the world suggest that it may be time to bring internal peace into the limelight. The divorce rate is steadily rising; aggression among youth is increasing; hate crimes are on the rise, and; suicide rates rose 34% from 2000 to 2016. So, this article is not about political actions, or global treaties, but about the wellness of everyday people.
Our cultural overdose on power may be a barrier to peace. Our brains are saturated with images of power. We watch Olivia Pope solve problems with fierce intention, The Avengers use magical powers to save the world, political figures position for power to influence the rules we live by. Even an ordinary web surfer can draw on the heartstrings of millions with a single post to garner power. Books hit the shelf daily to remind us that we can have power too, and how to get it.
Tenants of personal power, identified in Psychology Today, include don’t complain, waste time, blame or worry about what others think. Power built on these tenants can yield peace, and they are, indeed, the characteristics that we see in power icons. However, peace requires more than self-responsibility. Our willingness to see, hear and understand others in a way that reflects value is also required.
The conflict between partners, within families, and among social groups may leave individuals searching for personal power. But, without the consideration of others, power is oppositional to peace. Fear and hurt make people forget that peace between two people has more potential than the dominance and control of one over the other. Personal power becomes a defense instead of a tool for peace.
People who pursue power as a defense rather than seek it for personal growth in building a quality life, are operating in survival mode. Survival is the opposite of personal power.
In survival mode, the goal is to avoid danger and harm. Personal power is tied to winning by any means necessary. One may use fight, flight, or freeze tactics to survive, none of which fosters peace.
Fighting may consist of cheating and manipulating to address the perceived perpetual threat. It is the sense of beating the system that gives a sense of personal power.
Flight may be a pattern of avoiding anything that is not directly related to you. Therefore, you may have no interest in helping any others. You may be more interested in taking instead of giving. You fight to be understood but make no effort to understand others, as you focus on avoiding pain. Where there is no willingness to understand others, peace is impossible. The sense of safety is mistaken for personal power.
Freezing, the failure to respond to dangerous circumstances, may be mistaken for peace because conflict is avoided. However, peace is not a total avoidance of conflict. Peace is the ability to address discord without reliance on destruction or dominance. Survival mode tactics yield little personal power.
Given that personal power is internal, seeking control over another person will not offer peace. Dominance will constantly interrupt peace because maintaining dominance is a consistent effort. If you seek dominance as power will always have an opponent, and life will be conflict driven.
Peace Over Power
When you prioritize peace, personal power centers around self-discipline, including the discipline to not harm. It takes internal confidence to follow as well as you lead, helps instead of criticizing, study instead of giving up, or change instead of complaining. The discipline of the mind, body, and spirit are the ethos of peace.
Peace is an intentional way of living that opens the heart for harmony and cooperation. It requires self-exploration to examine the ideologies, wounding experiences, and separatist beliefs that elicit patterned defensive reactions. In a power-seeking culture, this way of life may be projected as vulnerable. But, it is not, because designing a life of peace takes inner strength and self-assurance.
Peace is heart work; power is hard work. Peace has to do with how we treat people who come into our path. A smile at the waitress, a “thank you” to the bus driver and kindness extended to neighbors feed your heart and mind. You live by personal design rather than by reacting to the world.
In personal relationships of peace, there is space for disappointment without blame because you are not overly attached to the outcome. You seek harmony rather than control. Decisions are made in consideration of all the people involved, not just one person.
You understand that allowing others to stand on your shoulders is not the same as letting them walk on your back. Letting someone stand on your shoulders is sometimes the only way to reach the vision. You reach it with a collaboration of peace.
Peace is the audacity to live without fear as a decision maker. When you design a life of peace you have few enemies. Your protection comes from the collective force of energy that you cultivate in your life by touching the hearts of so many. Jimmy Hendrix advocated, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace.” The world starts with you.
If you are looking for a shift in your life to help you accomplish more, maybe it is time to bring back a focus on peace. Allow the pursuit of peace to simplify your life by releasing what does not cultivate inner harmony. Release what interrupts peace instead of trying to control it.
Peace is a design that cannot be accomplished overnight if you are saturated in a life of power conflict. Choosing peace may have consequences as you begin to redesign your life. Keep choosing peace until your life looks and feels free. It eventually will.
Books like The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz and The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle teach the practice of peace. They teach the mastery of self as power, without the dominance over others. This is real peace. You know you are closer to it when you rest well at night and smile often during the day. People enjoy your presence as safe space. Your mind is free from reaction and you make decisions without positioning for power. Your peace has become your power.