Sometimes I lay awake at night, unable to go back to sleep, feelings of fear and anxiety about the future keep my mind racing—or is it the other way around? Does my mind feed my thoughts which fuel my anxiety? Regardless, how do you quiet the fear and anxiety and find peace?
I used to think, that just on the other side of that fence, the grass was really greener and that other people had it better. If only I had gotten that school loan, if my boss treated me better, if I didn’t get laid off, if my car didn’t break down again, if I didn’t get that speeding ticket or if my partner only behaved differently. My life would actually be better, and consequently, all these other things could work out so that I could finally be happy and at peace—that is, until the next problem.
After a lot of pain and heartache, I’ve come to realize that whatever circumstances surrounding my life situation, however positively or negatively I feel about them and about myself, I can be guaranteed that the universe/god (or whatever label you choose) will keep presenting me with problems or practice opportunities. It won’t end. We will never have control over our life situations, circumstances, people’s actions (or inaction), and a million other things that could happen, have already happened and will continue to happen.
But there is one thing we can do.
Be the guardian of our own inner peace and not let situations, thoughts, emotions, people’s actions and other circumstances blow us about in every direction and dictate our peace and happiness. How do we get there?
Practice acceptance and letting go. Accept yourself, people and events as they are, not as you think they should be. Give up labeling and judging yourself, everyone and everything around you as good or bad. Accept the temporal and relative nature of people, thoughts, feelings and circumstances. Let go of expectations, imprisoning ideas and beliefs, control and the need for security.
Accept the unknown. Make friends with the present.
Recognize when you are glorifying/wallowing in the past or glorifying/worrying about the future. Be where you are now and breathe. Let go of drama and feeling sorry for yourself, and practice being thankful. Become a giver; smile at a stranger and brighten their day—I dare you. You have something to contribute to the world: yourself.
I used to feel utterly alone and that if I was to survive, I would have to completely rely on my own self, because there was no one I could depend on. But the most curious and amazing thing has happened. As I’ve practiced acceptance, letting go, being thankful and being present, I feel more and more connected to and supported by the universe/god, friends and strangers. I don’t feel as alone anymore.
Sometimes I still wake up at night anxious and afraid of the future. But I remember to come back—to continue to come back—to the present. It’s getting easier.