The Top Enemies of Peace and How to Resolve Inner Conflict
In the physical world we can’t have peace if we’re involved in conflict and war. Violence leaves behind a trail of devastation, from the loss of life to economic ruin.
The same thing applies to our inner world. We can’t feel at peace if we’re experiencing inner conflict and waging wars against our life’s situations, or emotions.
We see negative emotions and habitual limiting behaviors and beliefs as the enemy. We either fight with all we’ve got, or we give up (unconsciously) and allow the old programming to run unabated.
And to complicate the issue, the inner enemies may not be known to us. We feel the conflict but we don’t know where it’s coming from. This is the case when we’re not facing a major life-altering situation but we still feel uneasy.
Let’s start by looking at the major enemies of inner peace.
The top 5 enemies of inner peace
Peacefulness is a state of complete surrender and absence of struggle. If you’re not feeling calm and at ease in this moment, what’s troubling you? What’s stopping you from having peace right now?
The answers will vary because of our unique circumstances. Dealing with an illness, a loss of a loved one, the dissolution of a relationship, or financial difficulties can result in more anxiety and pain. But what about the rest of the time, do we feel more peace or do we find something to stress about?
The struggle we experience on the surface is the result of deeper unconscious beliefs and emotions that run automatically with the sole purpose of keeping us safe.
In my own life the following five are the most frequently experienced behaviors and emotions that create needless struggle.
Resistance is the most common reactive response we have when faced with challenges and/or demands. We’d want to punch life in the face and fight, instead of accepting the situation and dealing with it. It adds to our inner conflict without any benefit.
Resistance manifests in many behaviors and attitudes: procrastination, avoidance, denial, taking on too much and feeling overwhelmed, physical clutter, and arguing with anyone or anything.
Fear is the biggest source of struggle and pain. It runs deep. It’s mostly primitive and unconscious. It’s one of the hardest feelings to tackle since it’s directly linked to our survival.
Fear of losing people we love, fear of not getting approval, fear of being alone, fear of pain, fear of injury, fear of missing out, fear of not being good enough, and much more will contribute to struggle and create more pain.
As strong as fear is, we’ve developed a stronger feeling that makes it worse: resistance. The moment we feel fear, we want to push the feeling away, or judge ourselves for having it, and we compound the pain.
Doubt is the absence of trust or faith. It causes us to question every decision, motivation, and intent. It casts a dark shadow over our abilities, our sense of self worth, and life in general. Doubt feeds fear and fuels resistance.
Feeling guilty keeps us stuck in the past. We feel bad for what we did, or didn’t do. Our actions are driven by our desire to alleviate the guilt. Except, no action is ever enough to absolve us from our sins.
We can’t be at peace when we feel we deserve to be punished over and over without an end in sight.
The state of constant striving and wanting can blind us to the blessings in our lives. We keep going, wanting to achieve more, get more, and do more. And when we get there, we start looking for the next thing.
In between, we might feel momentary happiness because we got what we wanted. But afterwards, we get back into striving mode, and struggle.
Inner conflict resolution
We don’t need to go to war to have peace. Fighting will lead to more unrest and pain.
It’s best to treat the perceived inner enemies with respect and try to find common grounds. So let’s try to resolve the inner conflicts in a calm nonviolent way.
1- Shake hands with the enemy (mentally). Acknowledge the situation and its accompanying emotions and beliefs as a worthy and equal adversary. Welcome them into your conscious awareness and listen to what the feelings and beliefs have to say.
2- Find the tradeoff. Something’s in it for you. Can you see how the pain serves you instead of rejecting it? What keeps you coming back for more? Can you learn from it?
The primary objective of deep beliefs and emotions is to protect us, even if the perceived threat is an imaginary one. We usually get something from repeated feelings and beliefs. What is it that we’re getting?
Everything we consider harmful and painful can be a growth opportunity.
3- Feel as much as possible. The moment you notice the feelings of struggle, stop and pay attention to the thoughts and feelings coursing through you. Follow the physical reactions in the body. Feel the stress and pain. The more you feel, the less you struggle. Feelings come like waves, strong and mighty in the beginning, but over a short period of time they start to subside.
When you allow yourself to feel, you start chipping away at the mountain of emotions that have accumulated over the years. This is one of the best things you can do to reach a calm and peaceful state.
4- Simplify. A lot of the stress and resistance we experience is the result of excess—too much to do, too many commitments, and too many possessions. We can intentionally choose to simplify our lives by doing less, scheduling less, and having less.
When we simplify our work and commitments, and we clear some clutter from our environment, we’ll create space that will foster peace and calm.
5- Practice contentment. Learning to appreciate what we have can offset striving and wanting. Gratitude and appreciation make us feel better. Joy is within us and around us. We just need to stop and look at life for a moment—with openness and curiosity.
When we see the beauty and wonder of life, things tend to get easier and we feel calmer.
We’ve been sold on the notion that struggle is part of the human condition. But upon examination, we realize that struggle is only a symptom of habitual behaviors, beliefs, and emotions that are mostly self-created. If we change the habits, the symptom will disappear.
So instead of going to war with our habits and emotions, we can make peace with them and free ourselves from needless suffering.